Steelers streaking, peaking at the right time

Should Walt Coleman have ruled Santonio Holmes' catch a touchdown? Would Mike Tomlin have gone for the touchdown and win from the two-inch line if Coleman hadn't? Will the Pittsburgh Steelers lose again this season?

I'll answer all of these burning questions and more in this week's post-game wrap of the Steelers' 13-9 victory over the Baltimore Ravens:

© When Holmes' reception with 43 seconds occurred, I initially didn't think it was a touchdown. It appeared that Holmes had both feet in the end zone, but had to come out to make the catch.

But when I saw the replay from the overhead camera, it appeared that the ball did cross the front of the end zone line.

I'm sure Ravens' fans don't see it that way. But Coleman obviously saw something that made him rule that a touchdown.

Remember, the ball doesn't have cross into the end zone, it only has to touch the line.

When Holmes first catches the ball, the ball was over or at the very least touching the line.

© Tomlin wouldn't say whether or not he would have gone for it had Coleman ruled it wasn't a score, but he would have.

The Steelers never took their offense off the field and several defensive players I spoke to after the game said that the team had damn sure better have gone for it.

As Herm Edwards once famously said, you play to win the game. And you definitely play to win the game on the road in that situation.

But, as Tomlin said, we'll never know for sure what he was going to do because he didn't have to make the decision.

© You have to like the way this team is playing heading down the stretch.

People talk all the time about teams peaking at the right moment and the Steelers definitely appear to be doing that.

Some of the other contenders in the AFC – Tennessee and the Jets, for example – look to have peaked at least a month ago.

The Steelers? They're playing their best football at just the right time.

They're been far from perfect this season. But they just keep finding ways to win games.

A lot of that is because Ben Roethlisberger refuses to let them lose.

Roethlisberger is a winner, period. A number of players in that locker room said they had no doubt that the Steelers were scoring on their final drive, despite the fact they were starting from their own 8.



This team believes in him and he's shown them time and again over the course of his five-year career that he's capable of producing in those situations.

It's not always pretty. He's not always going to have gaudy numbers. But he's the closest thing to John Elway playing in the NFL today.

© The Ravens played this one largely not to lose - limiting quarterback Joe Flacco's downfield throwing.

We heard all week long was how much better Flacco was playing now than earlier in the season. He sure looked like a rookie to me.

All that running with a few throws mixed in may work when you're playing the Cincinnati Bengals. But the Steelers' defense outplayed Baltimore's all day long.

© Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called a pretty good game Sunday with one notable exception.

What the heck was that passing play on third-and-one from the Baltimore 24 on the first play of the fourth quarter?

The Steelers had Mewelde Moore in the backfield instead of Gary Russell, so it was pretty obvious that they weren't going to try to run it.

Russell had barely picked up a third-and-one in the first half – and there was plenty of question about that – but in that situation, why not run the ball and kick a field goal if you don't get it to cut the score to 9-6?

Had they done that and then kicked a field goal on their possession as they did, the score would have been tied at 9-9 and they wouldn't have needed Roethlisberger's heroics or Coleman's call to win it.

© We saw a lot more two-back running sets in this one and the Steelers actually generated something on the ground against a good Baltimore defense.

In fact, that was one of the better rushing days – 91 yards on 27 carries – the Steelers have had against the Ravens.

Roethlisberger accounted for 21 of that on four scrambles, but the Steelers got enough on the ground to keep the Ravens guessing.

© As I was waiting to get onto the plane at the airport, I looked ahead of me on the stairway and saw that rookie linebacker Patrick Bailey was standing in front of me.

Bailey had three tackles on special teams, including a tackle on Yamon Figures in the fourth quarter where he nearly took his head off.

I told Bailey he had probably locked up the team's rookie of the year award with that performance and he couldn't believe it.

Believe it.

The Steelers had a couple of miscues on special teams Sunday, but the coverage units have been every bit as dominant as the defense has this season. And Bailey has been a big part of that.

He told me, by the way, that the look on Figures' face when he turned and saw Bailey ready to take his head off was priceless.

© Going into their final five games, I said the Steelers needed to go 3-2 to win the division. They've gone 3-0 so far, outscoring their three opponents – New England, Dallas and Baltimore – 37-0 in the fourth quarter in those games.

© It's a good thing the Steelers won this one or Holmes would have been one of the biggest goats in Pittsburgh sports history.

© Nate Washington has caught six passes in the game-winning or tying drives the past two weeks. He's making himself some money somewhere and the Steelers are going to have a tough time replacing that if he does leave after this season.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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