New pass catchers featured

PITTSBURGH – Without his starting wide receivers, Ben Roethlisberger leaned on his tight ends and they responded with the game's only touchdowns in a 20-3 Steelers win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With the tight ends running amok, no doubt the Steelers back in the playoff race. It's tight end mania in Pittsburgh once again.

"I don't know about that," said Heath Miller. "Those were plays we call often. It just worked out good for the tight ends today."

Jerame Tuman caught his first touchdown pass in two years to put the Steelers ahead, 7-0. Out of a running formation with no receivers in the game, Roethlisberger faked a handoff to Willie Parker on third-and-two and threw to the wide-open Tuman in the back of the end zone.

The Steelers cashed again on the first play of the fourth quarter. With only one wide receiver on the field on first down, Miller ran a post but Roethlisberger was forced to scramble away from pressure. Miller saw his quarterback in trouble and drifted to the corner, where Roethlisberger hit him with a 16-yard scoring pass to put the game away.

"It's a feel we work on in practice," Miller said. "Ben's one of the best in the league at getting out of the pocket and finding guys downfield."

Cedrick Wilson was that man downfield early in Sunday's game. He caught two passes to convert third downs, but sprained his ankle on the second catch and left the game. He should miss Thursday night's game against Cleveland and would leave the Steelers without both of their starting wide receivers. Steelers coach Bill Cowher was asked if he might use Miller more in multi-receiver packages.

"He gives you that option," Cowher said. "We went down that road before when we lost Hines. Other times we've had some packages where we had Heath out there on third downs. We may expand on that a little bit, but I feel good about Sean Morey. You know, Walter Young's here. We're not going to get rid of everything. We're still going to spread it out because that's what Ben feels comfortable with."

Roethlisberger completed only 12 of 25 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He had four passes dropped and also had two interceptions dropped. Of his 12 completions, only six went to wide receivers.

After Wilson left with the injury, the Steelers played the rest of the game – three-and-a-half quarters – with Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes as their starting wide receivers.

Holmes, with two drops and one catch, didn't fare as well as Washington, who caught three passes for a career-high 78 yards.

As a central figure in the win, Washington must've felt good, considering his inconsistent season thus far. But he wasn't sure.

"I don't know," he said. "It could've been better. I could've done a little more blocking. I don't know. I don't consider this to be my best game. I don't know."

Obviously, his confidence isn't yet peaking, but with Wilson and Ward expected to miss Thursday's game with injuries, Washington, in his second NFL season, has the experience edge on the rookie Holmes. So is Washington now the leader of the wideouts?

"No," he said. "The only true leader we look to is Hines. Other than that, we don't look for any leaders. We play off each other. There are times I don't know things that Santonio might know, even though he's younger than me. We all play off each other."

Roethlisberger has been a big supporter of Washington all season, and Sunday that confidence paid off in the form of his two longest passes of the game. Roethlisberger hit Washington for 24 and 36 yards.

"When guys go down, we've always had guys who step up and play big," said Roethlisberger. "They did a great job of that and filling in for the guys that were down. I would expect them to continue to do that as long as we have guys down."


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