Lolley: Maybe they can run it

I'll admit when I'm wrong and in this case, I was wrong. Maybe the Pittsburgh Steelers can run the football. It just took a rainy day for them to figure it out.

In the first half of Sunday's 33-10 victory here at Gillette Stadium, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 19 times while the Steelers attempted 14 running plays.

The result of that was a 10-10 tie.

In the second half, the Steelers were more intent on establishing that rushing attack, running it on seven of their first 11 plays, gashing the Patriots for 37 yards on those seven rushing attempts.

They finished the second half with 20 rushing attempts for 113 yards as they ran for 161 yards in a game that called for that kind of commitment to the ground.

Some credit has to be given to the much-maligned offensive line. Not only did they beat the Patriots up front, they also allowed just one sack and that came because of a corner blitz.

Had Roethlisberger seen the blitz coming earlier, he could have gotten the ball out to Nate Washington in the flat for at least a 10-yard gain.

© Willie Parker told me he didn't know he and Mewelde Moore would be alternating possessions in the backfield until it happened.

But Parker was OK with it because he's still not 100 percent - though he looked pretty close to being there Sunday.

© James Harrison is the NFL's defensive player of the year. In fact, he might be the league's MVP.

Think about that and tell me who's playing better football or made a bigger impact on a very good football team?

Harrison seemingly makes a game-changing play in every game.

That was the highly overrated Matt Light he was beating like a drum Sunday. Light has been named to the Pro Bowl a few times and is a decent left tackle. But he's not great.

Harrison proved that Sunday.

© I'll give Lawrence Timmons a pass on running out of gas on his 89-yard interception return.

Timmons started in the middle of the field and sprinted out to come underneath Kevin Faulk and catch that ball in the flat. He then sprinted the next 60 or so yards before running out of gas and slowing down.

All told, he probably covered 110 yards on that play.

© That wasn't the memory of Timmons I'll take away from this game. He blitzed Matt Cassel from the outside in the second half and drove the New England quarterback into the ground just after he released the ball.

Cassel spun around as if to figure out how somebody got there so fast coming from his front side.

© Even that may not be the Timmons memory I take away from this one.

On the plane ride back to Pittsburgh, we ran into quite a bit of rough weather and Timmons got caught out of his seat heading for the restroom when we hit a particularly nasty patch.

The linebacker dropped to the floor and crawled on his hands and knees back to his seat. Classic.

© Ryan Clark's hit on Wes Welker was every bit as hard as any I've seen this season - and I've seen some very hard ones for sure.

Clark will probably be fined because he left his feet on the play. But the hit itself was clean. He led with his shoulder.

© The Steelers coverage teams have been outstanding all season and maybe the return game is starting to catch up.

Santonio Holmes' 29-yard punt return in the first quarter gave them a nice spark and changed field position, while the Patriots obviously respected Gary Russell enough that they kicked away from him the first two times they kicked off.

The Steelers fixed that, however, by having Russell and Carey Davis start next to each other and break apart just as the ball was being kicked off. The Patriots kicked the ball to the left where Davis had been the first two times, only Russell was there instead and he rumbled 31 yards on the return.

© I don't know if you noticed at home, but Chris Hoke saw some time at defensive end in the second half.

Here's betting Hoke didn't figure he'd get a chance to tackle Randy Moss as he did in the second half - for a loss.

© Don't make Casey Hampton angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

© Don't look now, but the Steelers have an outside shot at claiming the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

How can that happen?

Well, first off, the Steelers need to win out. That would give them a win over the Titans in a few weeks.

The Titans then close out the regular season at Indianapolis.

They could certainly lose both of those games.

That said, the Jets' loss on Sunday more than likely will be fighting for the No. 2 seed.

Heading into this current four-game stretch, I felt they needed to go 2-2 to have a shot at winning the division.

Sunday's win was a big one since it was a conference victory.

But a win in either of their next two games would be huge - particularly one over the Ravens in Baltimore.

Baltimore still has to travel to Dallas for a Saturday game after playing the Steelers. The Ravens won't beat the Cowboys in Dallas.

The Jets, meanwhile, have a tough trip to San Francisco this week, go back home to play Buffalo, before heading to Seattle. Those aren't very good teams, but that's a lot of travel. They'll lose at least one of those games.


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