Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

Quarterback Tommy Maddox continues to decline, and it's not all the fault of a makeshift offensive line. <br><br> Maddox had his second-worst passer rating of the season, a 45.7, while throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions against St. Louis on Sunday. He has dropped to a 71.2 passer rating and has fallen under 60 percent completions for the first time.

Maddox threw two touchdown passes to Hines Ward on Sunday. He also threw three interceptions and his passes fluttered. His receivers also had several drops. Maddox was only 12 of 28 for 159 yards. The good news: He was only sacked twice.

The Steelers were 1-for-10 on third-down conversions and also missed their lone try on fourth down.

Charlie Batch lingers behind Maddox, but there's no evidence coach Bill Cowher is about to change quarterbacks. Maddox leads the AFC with 11 interceptions and is just one from tying for the league lead.

The running game also had another abysmal day. It's not that they ran poorly, the Steelers just stopped trying. Jerome Bettis got his first start of the season and ran only 12 times for 42 yards. Of their 94 yards on 18 carries, 32 yards came on one play in which wide receiver Antwaan Randle El took a direct snap and took off.

The Steelers offence continues to have an identity crisis and doesn't seem to know what they want to do. They wanted to run, but they didn't stick with it in a close game.

"Right now, it seems like every bounce that cannot go our way is not going our way," Maddox said. "That is the frustrating thing about it. Sometimes, you feel like you need one to fall our way and kind of get us going. But it just hasn't happened."

Defensive woes
The Rams' Marc Bulger, a Pittsburgh native, threw for 375 yards, the second-most by an opponent this season in Pittsburgh. He could have thrown for 500 yards if they didn't stop passing in the fourth quarter and finished the game with a 102.9 passer rating. Bugler threw just one touchdown pass, but also was not intercepted and averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt. The Steelers rarely blitzed Bulger even though he was picking them apart when they dropped eight men into coverage. Their safeties are dropping so far back they're going to be in the stands soon. Steelers rookie safety Troy Polamalu allowed a ball to slip right through his hands for a reception.

The Steelers rush defence's numbers for the game are misleading. The Rams gained just 89 yards on 37 carries. But third-string back Arlen Harris, an undrafted rookie, ran 34 times and rushed for three touchdowns, two from nine yards out. The Rams got the yards on the ground when they had to get them.

Quick Hits

  • WR Hines Ward ranks second in the AFC with 46 receptions and also is second with five touchdown catches. Despite the team's struggles recently in the passing game, Ward is on pace to catch 105 this season.
  • LB Clark Haggans emerged from the sidelines to spell Jason Gildon at left rush end Sunday and he could be in for more playing time there. Gildon has just one sack in seven games.
  • LB James Farrior was returned to the middle LB spot in the dime passing defense, a job he held for the first three games before turning it back over to a healthy Joey Porter. Sunday, Porter moved to right rush end in the dime, replacing an ineffective Kendrell Bell.
  • OT Todd Fordham returned to start on the right side and gave up one of the Rams' two sacks, to Leonard Little. Fordham has been a weak link in the Steelers' line all season.
  • Antwaan Randle El had the longest punt return for a touchdown in Steelers history, 84 yards to tie the game 7-7 in the first quarter. The previous record was 80 yards by Rod Woodson and Roy Jefferson.
  • It was the best day of the season for Pittsburgh's special teams. In addition to Randle El's punt return, Ike Taylor had a 42-yard kickoff return. The Rams returned four punts for only eight yards and they also missed a field goal. The Steelers held the Rams to an 18.3-yard average on kickoff returns.

Quote to Note
"I'm not having any trouble getting open, that's evident. I don't feel one player can really just walk up to the line of scrimmage and take me out of a football game. If he can do that, I want to see him." - WR Plaxico Burress after catching one pass for six yards Sunday.


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