Steelers get what they need

Mike Prisuta covered the Steelers' win in Buffalo and enthused about the final score.

BUFFALO -- To their credit, they apologized for nothing.

Not that they weren't well aware of how close they came to having to play for survival this coming Sunday night in Baltimore rather than for first place in the AFC North Division.

"I thought it was done," Ryan Clark said of that gorgeous pass Steve Johnson dropped in the end zone in OT. "Great pass, great route to a guy who's been extremely hot.

"God was just on our side with that one, man, I don't know. I can't even explain the feeling of going from ‘I just knew he caught it,' to seeing him drop the ball."

"I was just like you, ready to walk to the locker room," James Farrior said of seeing Johnson run past Ike Taylor, away from Clark and under what should have been the game-winning TD.

It should have been over right then and there.

Then again, it had looked to be just as decided at the conclusion of a first half in which the Steelers had piled up an 18-4 edge in first downs, amassed 225 total net yards to Buffalo's 51 and held the ball for 23:55 to the Bills' 6:05.

It was only 13-0 after two quarters, but it was over.

Right up until the point when it wasn't.

That's the NFL for you these days. And as much as you'd like them to be, the Steelers are not above such inexplicable absurdity.

For long stretches at Ralph Wilson Stadium they looked like the team you wanted them to be heading into the Inner Harbor, the one that had rediscovered itself against Oakland and was ready to build on the momentum that had been generated and the confidence that had been re-gained by smashing the Raiders.

In the end all they were was the team you needed them to be.

And to be that they needed, in no particular order, Chan Gailey to opt for a field goal with a first down a little more than the length of the football away, Troy Polamalu to periodically turn into Superman, Ben Roethlisberger to become Michael Vick on third-and-17 midway through the fourth quarter, and Daniel Sepulveda to launch a 55-yard punt (64 net) from the very back of the end zone in OT.

"Our backs were literally against the wall in that situation in overtime," Sepulveda said.

Kinda feels like that's been the case in one form or another all season long, doesn't it?

James Harrison's back might not be against the wall but he continues to get backed into a corner by officiating crews, apparently for hitting quarterbacks too hard.

This time Harrison said members of the Bills' offensive line were telling him the flag he drew for roughing the passer in the third quarter was a bad call.

"Four of 'em," Harrison said. "I ain't never had that one, that's a first."

Can't wait to see what this coming Sunday brings.

It'll be billed as a battle for AFC North supremacy between the 8-3 Steelers and the 8-3 Ravens.

It could just as easily be billed as a battle for first place between two teams that couldn't beat the 2-9 Bills in regulation.

All the Steelers care about is that it'll be a battle for first place.

If Steve Johnson catches that ball we're talking about how the offensive line sucks and the defense can't defend against the pass and, I'm sure in some warped corners of Steeler Nation, how awful the play-calling was once again.

But he didn't and we're not.

Bring on the Ravens.

"When he dropped the ball I kinda knew it was fate for us to win that ballgame," Hines Ward insisted.

That's an explanation that sums up what transpired in Buffalo as well as any.


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