PITTSBURGH — Reserve Weegie Thompson not only got a rare start for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he almost single-handedly finished off the Green Bay Packers. Thompson caught three touchdown passes from Mark Malone Sunday, and the Steelers turned two Packer fumbles into 10 points in the first four minutes of a 27-3 victory over Green Bay.
Thompson, who had 8 catches and a touchdown in the Steelers' first 8 games, subbed for the injured Louis Lipps and made 6 catches for 78 yards.
"It's a lot easier to start than it is to come off the bench and try to get something going when you're cold and you don't have a feel for the game," Thompson said. "It's a lot easier to get into the flow of the game."
Green Bay's Gary Ellerson fumbled twice in the opening minutes, allowing the Steelers (3-6) to open a 10-0 lead on Gary Anderson's 25-yard field goal and an 18-yard scoring pass from Malone to Thompson.
Thompson, in his third year from Florida State, also caught a nine-yard touchdown pass in the third-period and a six-yarder in the fourth quarter after Mike Merriweather intercepted a pass by Green Bay's Randy Wright.
"The passes we completed were the ones we had worked on all week, the ones we thought would work against their defense," Thompson said.
Malone, whose quarterback rating of 48.5 entering the game was one of the lowest in the league, completed 20 of 31 passes for 195 yards and did not throw an interception. He has thrown seven touchdown passes in his past three starts.
"With their defense, they try to force you to throw the ball underneath their zone coverage and that's exactly what we did," Malone said. "We didn't make mistakes and we didn't try to get greedy and throw the ball long, like we did earlier in the season. We were content to complete the quick slant passes and the screens."
The Steelers' consecutive victories are their first since they won three in a row last November.
Pittsburgh's defense has not allowed a touchdown in its last two games.
Green Bay (1-8), trailing 13-3, squandered its best scoring opportunity after Wright connected with Walter Stanley on a 55-yard completion to the Steelers' 25 early in the third quarter.
The Packers lost a yard on a running play, and Wright threw two incomplete passes before Al Del Greco missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt. Del Greco's 34-yard field goal four seconds before halftime gave the Packers their only points.
Wright finished 15 of 31 for 180 yards and an interception before being replaced in the fourth quarter by former USFL quarterback Chuck Fusina.
Fusina was 3 of 5 for 17 yards and threw an interception after Green Bay advanced inside the Pittsburgh 25-yard line in the final minutes.