Bye week update

The Steelers hobble into their bye week with a skip in their step after they came from behind to defeat Jacksonville 26-21 Sunday night.

They did so without five injured starters, and they were without their top three running backs and two-thirds of their defensive line.

"I really don't want to use the excuse of being hurt," linebacker James Harrison said. "All I have to say is we came out here and did what we were trying to do, and that's win the game whether it's with all our starters playing or half our starters playing."

Harrison, meanwhile, was fined $20,000 by the league for his comments after the game concerning an awful roughing-the-passer call on the Steelers' linebacker in the fourth quarter of Monday's game. After the poor call by Ron Winter's crew, Harrison legitimately questioned whether the official had money on the game.

The good news for Pittsburgh is it is 4-1 and has a nice lead over 2-2 Baltimore in the AFC North Division. The Steelers now have the off week, and many of the injured starters are likely to return when they resume play Oct. 19 against winless Cincinnati.

Among those expected to return to play in that game are halfback Willie Parker, fullback Carey Davis and defensive linemen Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel.

"Thankfully we get a week off. It's much needed," coach Mike Tomlin said.

Among those who need it is Ben Roethlisberger. He's been sacked 18 times in five games and did not practice most of last week after he received an injection in his sore right shoulder, which was injured in the opener.

"It's going to feel good to get some time off," Roethlisberger said.


--DE Brett Keisel made it back to practice Tuesday after missing three games with a calf injury, and the Steelers expect many of his injured teammates to follow by the time they play their next game in Cincinnati on Oct. 19.

--WR Hines Ward redeemed himself when he caught the winning touchdown on an 8-yard fade pass from QB Ben Roethlisberger with 1:53 to go Sunday night. Earlier, he dropped a pass in the end zone, and the Steelers had to settle for a field goal.

"I was just not really concentrating," Ward said of the drop. "I tried to drag my feet before I caught the ball. It happens."

--RB Mewelde Moore had touched the ball just once through three games with the Steelers, even though he had four 100-yard games previously with the Vikings. Sunday night, he ran 17 times for 99 yards in his first start.

"He delivered for this football team and probably endeared himself to some guys in the locker room," coach Mike Tomlin said. "You know how it is when you're the new guy, you have to earn your stripes, particularly on a team built through the draft the way we are. I think he did that a little bit; he has some new friends in there."

--The Steelers played two of their most physical opponents in a span of six days, Baltimore at home on a Monday night followed by Jacksonville on Sunday night.

"Coming off a short week with Baltimore Monday night, coming down here, two back-to-back physical games, it takes a toll on your body," Ward said. "The bye week couldn't come at a better time for us."


--OT Marvel Smith left the game with cramps in the fourth quarter, but he should be ready when the Steelers resume play Oct. 19.

--OT Trai Essex and not $7 million man Max Starks replaced Smith at left tackle for the rest of the game in Jacksonville.

--QB Ben Roethlisberger, who did not top 200 yards in his first four games, had 309 yards passing.

--K Jeff Reed left the game with a left calf injury. More will be known about that injury later in the week.

--LB LaMarr Woodley's two sacks give him 5.5 on the season in his first as a starter.


PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Ben Roethlisberger had his best game of the season. With the Jaguars expecting him to pass, he accommodated them. He completed 26 of 41 for a season-high 309 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked three times and threw one interception that was returned for a 72-yard touchdown when Santonio Holmes fell down. Roethlisberger lobbed a perfect 8-yard fade pass to Hines Ward for the game-winner with 1:53 left.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Against a defense traditionally tough against the run, the Steelers were without their top two running backs and their starting fullback. No problem. Mewelde Moore started and ran 17 times for 99 yards as part of the Steelers' 129-yard rushing night in which they averaged an even 5 yards a try.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- David Garrard was sacked three times, and while he did not throw an interception, he was under plenty of pressure all night. He completed 18 of 32 for 200 yards with one touchdown. He also did not escape for long gains, as four scrambles produced just 12 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Humiliated by what Jacksonville did to them in two games last season, the Steelers slammed the Jaguars running duo of Fred Taylor (10 for 19 yards) and Maurice Jones-Drew (5-7) as they held the Jaguars to 38 yards rushing. They did this even though they were missing two of their three starting defensive linemen.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Jacksonville's rookie return man extraordinaire, Brian Witherspoon, was stopped dead in his tracks. He fielded two punts for no yards and four kickoffs for an average of 25.3, getting tackled once by K Jeff Reed. Reed also made both of his field-goal tries, and Mitch Berger averaged 49.5 yards on four punts.

COACHING: B-plus -- With five starters out and having lost another when LT Marvel Smith left in the fourth quarter, Mike Tomlin's team had an attitude about it in Jacksonville. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has been criticized lately for his play-calling, but it could not have been better Sunday. He used a good mix of runs and passes.

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