The Pittsburgh Steelers lost star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a knee injury in the second half Sunday, but they didn’t lose the game as they defeated the St. Louis Rams 12-6.
The Steelers’ defense held the Rams (1-2) out of the end zone, but also took advantage of seven Rams penalties for 97 yards, an interception and a late overturned call by the officials that took away an apparent first-down catch by Kenny Britt.
A fire on the field near the 3-yard line during pregame introductions was closer to the end zone than the Rams got all day. The cleanup effort got the field ready after a 28-minute delay, but now it will take another crew to clean up the Rams’ inconsistency.
“Six points isn’t going to win you a whole lot of games and we’re averaging eight points a game the last two weeks,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said after his team fell to 1-2. “That’s not going to get it done for you. That’s my biggest area of concern.”
Roethlisberger was hot before leaving with a left knee injury on a diving sack by Rams safety Mark Barron with 5:22 remaining in the third quarter. “Big Ben” completed 20-of-24 passes for 192 yards, including 11 receptions by Antonio Brown for 108 yards.
The Rams had only one fewer total yard than the Steelers (259-258) but failed to reach the end zone. The Rams have scored only 16 points the last two weeks as an inability to generate any kind of consistent offense again proved costly.
So did dropped passes by tight ends Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook, costly penalties near the goal line and would-be interceptions that were dropped.
“We’ve go to minimize our mistakes and our penalties,” Britt said. “That’s been killing us for the last two weeks. We’ll get a drive going and we’ve got a mistake somewhere or a penalty somewhere that kills our drive. Then we have to punt and put our defense back out there after having a long drive and getting them tired.”
Britt felt his catch, which would have continued the Rams’ final drive, was good for a first down as he landed awkwardly on his arm while trying to hang on. Instead, it was reverse by the officials following a video review.
“I definitely feel like I had it,” said Britt, who had seven catches for 102 yards. “Do I think it was a legal catch? I caught it, so yeah. It’s not my call. I made the catch and they decide is it a ctach or not.
“I think it was a beautiful catch in my mind, to tell you the truth. Every catch to a receiver’s a beautiful catch.”
MISTAKES PROVE COSTLY
Trailing 9-3 early in the fourth quarter, the Rams seemed headed for a potential go-ahead touchdown.
Aided by a pass interference call and a 24-yard run by receiver Chris Givens, the Rams had first-and-goal at the Steelers 7.
A running play to Tre Mason lost two yards, tight end Jared Cook was called for a false start and on third down there was another false start on left tackle Greg Robinson. The Rams settled for a 27-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein and never got close again.
The extremely loud crowd of several thousand Steeler fans at the dome may have helped lead to the false starts with their noise.
“It is tough, but for us that can’t be an excuse,” Kendricks saId. “We’ve got to be able to go on (silent) cadence, we practice it all the time so there shouldn’t be any reason that we false start.
“Those little details, we’ve got to work on those.”
Like holding on to the football. Early in the second half, Kendricks was the target of a deep pass from quarterback Nick Foles, similar to the play on which Kendricks scored a touchdown in the opener against Seattle.
This time, the ball deflected off Kendricks and the Rams had to punt.
“It (stinks) because you lose it in the lights, but you’ve still got to come down with it,” Kendricks said. “It’s no excuse but it’s a tough play. I saw the ball go up, I couldn’t see it coming down at all, literally, until it hit me in the face. I’ve just got to track it better.”
Kendricks was the target on another deep ball from Foles that resulted in an interception by Steelers safety Will Allen with 2:51 remaining.
Kendricks had the linebacker beat that was covering him, but Allen was all over the ball.
“It was just a bad decision,” said Foles, who had spoken with Kendricks about looking for a blitz and trying to go deep. “It was something that I’d seen throughout the day and I was just trying to take advantage of a middle of the field shot.”
After the interception, the Steelers had the ball at teh Rams 31 and got a 41`-yard field goal from Josh Scobee to make it 12-6.
It was another day of missed opportunities, something recent Rams teams seem to find quite often.
“Quite frankly, we’ve got to find a way to get another turnover,” Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “They fumbled on a sack. We dropped a couple of other picks. You’ve got to make those plays, especially against a really good (offense).
“I thought we played really well, minus really early in the game, the first quarter. That’s a very talented team.”