Coming off a Week 15 loss in which not much went right, the Pittsburgh Steelers bounced back in the second to last weekend of the 2011 season with a 24-0 shutout victory over the St. Louis Rams. Pittsburgh entered the week allowing 15.57 points per game, the second fewest in the league. Sunday's shutout, the second of the season (Week 3 vs. SEA), lowered that total to 14.3. A few quick notes on the solid win:
- Dick LeBeau's defense allowed just 232 yards despite being on the field for 67 plays. 3.7 yards per play allowed is a winning figure.
- Offensively, the Steelers were balanced and efficient, picking up 169 yards rushing and 208 yards passing for a total of 377 for the afternoon. Rashard Mendenhall eclipsed the 100-yard plateau for just the second time this season. He finished with 116 yards and 1 TD on 18 carries. Isaac Redman (8 att. 35 yards) and John Clay (1 att. 10 yards) also found the endzone. Congratulations to Clay on his first career touchdown. Called up from the practice squad this week, the Wisconsin native scored on his very first regular season NFL touch from 10 yards out.
- Hats off to Rams RB Steven Jackson for his performance on Sunday and for keeping a quietly remarkable streak alive. Jackson rushed for 103 yards on 24 carries, his fourth game this year with 100 or more ticks on the ground. Jackson needed just 36 yards to reach 1,000 for the sixth consecutive season. He surpassed the milestone and then some in the losing effort.
- We can thank Josh Brown for the shutout. The Rams' kicker missed from 52 and 33 yards out. Shuan Suisham, meanwhile, rebounded from his crucial miss last week to connect from 49 to put Pittsburgh up by 13 early in the third quarter. Suisham also was true from 21 yards for the game's first points.
- Welcome back James Harrison. This defense is so much better when he's playing. Harrison registered his ninth sack of the season and finished with four total tackles.
Lawrence Timmons was everywhere, taking down Rams a total of ten times, seven unassisted. He also had his first sack of the season. That's four straight games with at least eight tackles for the standout inside linebacker.
- I guess that's why Mike Tomlin gives Charlie Batch the nod in the rare week that Ben Roethlisberger can't or is not allowed to play. Batch lived up to his cliched reputation as a suitable game manager by 15-of-22 passes for 208 yards. He did not throw a TD pass, but he came awful close late in the game when he connected with Mike Wallace for a 49-yard completion that was initially called a touchdown, but ultimately reversed and spotted down at the 1 yard line. Batch did make one mistake with his pick, but all in all, a job well done by the veteran.
More soon from the rest of the day's action. Go Steelers!