The Steelers combined their still-flawless new quarterback with
a touch of the old -- a Jerome Bettis of yesteryear and a defense
that was Steel Curtain-tough -- to dominate the Philadelphia Eagles
27-3 Sunday and leave the NFL without an undefeated team.
The Steelers (7-1) ended the Eagles' seven-game winning streak a
week after halting New England's record 21-game winning streak with
an equally impressive 34-20 victory. Pittsburgh is the only team in
NFL history to stop unbeaten teams in consecutive weeks after each
had won at least six games.
"Nobody ever thought we'd do this," said Hines Ward, who
scored the first two touchdowns. "We're giving defensive
coordinators heck trying to figure out what we're going to do, with
weapons all over the field and a quarterback who just keeps getting
How much better can Big Ben get than this? Roethlisberger is 6-0
as a starter -- the first rookie since the 1970 merger to do that
since Pittsburgh's Mike Kruczek filled in for an injured Terry
Bradshaw in 1976.
Here's the difference: Kruczek didn't throw a TD pass all season
on a team that won behind the Steel Curtain; Roethlisberger (11 of
18, 183 yards, two touchdowns) has thrown for 11 touchdowns while
playing with the polish and growing confidence of a much more
"He's remarkable," Eagles linebacker Mark Simoneau said.
"Look at him on the field and he doesn't look like a rookie, he
looks like a guy who's been around four or five years. Give the guy
credit, he made plays all day long."
Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to a 21-0 lead on their first
three possessions with the help of Bettis' 149 yards, his 55th
career 100-yard game. The 1978 Steelers were the only other team in
franchise history to start 7-1, en route to a 14-2 record and a
Super Bowl title.
Ward scored on the first two drives, a 16-yard reverse and a
20-yard reception, then playfully mocked the Eagles (7-1) and star
receiver Terrell Owens by flapping his arms Owens-like in the end
zone each time.
Owens found Ward's end-zone celebrations amusing. "It was fun," Owens said.
Owens, coming off five consecutive 100-yard games, didn't
catch his first pass until Pittsburgh led 21-0 and could be seen
yelling at quarterback Donovan McNabb on the sidelines.
Owens ended with seven catches for 53 yards, and a heavily
pressured McNabb was 15 of 24 for 109 yards and an interception.
"That just wasn't our offense out there, but it happens,"
McNabb said. "We're not the first team undefeated that lost."
McNabb and Owens downplayed the shouting incident, with both
saying Owens was only trying to encourage the quarterback.
"When things aren't happening, you get frustrated," McNabb
said. "He was there telling me to be positive about everything.
I'm usually the guy to provide confidence, but today he was that
The Steelers didn't miss injured running back Duce Staley
(hamstring), the former 1,000-yard Eagles rusher, as their
offensive line opened holes big enough for, well, a Bus to run
through. Bettis, the No. 6 rusher in NFL history, gained only 129
yards in Pittsburgh's first seven games and was barely averaging a
yard per carry until getting 65 yards against New England.
"Everybody assumed Jerome Bettis couldn't get it done any
longer," said Bettis, a backup most of the last two seasons who
had his best game since gaining 163 yards against Cleveland in
2001. "People were asking, `Why is he still here?' I'm still here
for a reason."
Ward said, "We have confidence in Jerome Bettis -- he is the
A week after outrushing New England 221-5, the Steelers outran
the Eagles 252-23 and outgained them 420-111 to end Philadelphia's
nine-game road winning streak.
The 28 combined rushing yards allowed are the lowest totals allowed by the Steelers in consecutive games in their history.
Maybe it was appropriate that many members of the 1979 Super
Bowl champion Steelers were in attendance, because this was exactly
the kind of commanding performance on both sides of the ball those
Steelers were known for.
Just like the New England game, this one was decided early. The
Steelers came out running right at the Eagles, partly to negate
Philadelphia's blitz, and Roethlisberger passed only two times on
an 11-play, 80-drive finished off by Roethlisberger's 16-yard
scramble on third-and-13 and Ward's first career scoring run.
Roethlisberger threw TD passes on the next two drives.
Owens said he apologized to Ray Lewis earlier this week for the uproar that stemmed from Owens' imitation dance last Sunday. Owens said he apologized to Lewis because "I owed him that." ... The Steelers chose to not try to score after reaching the
Eagles' 8 with 2½ minutes left. ... The crowd of 64,975 at
64,350-seat Heinz Field was a Steelers record, surpassing the
64,737 for the Patriots. ... Roethlisberger has won his last 19
starts, including his last 13 at Miami of Ohio last season. ...
Philadelphia failed to become the seventh NFL team ever to win 10
consecutive road games. ... The Eagles were 0-for-8 on third downs
and are 12-for-54 in their last five.
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN Research was used in this report.
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