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Steelers start fast, hold on

October 05, 2009|Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger's throwing got fast-starting Pittsburgh going on its first two drives, Rashard Mendenhall surpassed his previous career total with 165 yards rushing and two scores and the Steelers opened a 28-point lead, then held on to beat the San Diego Chargers, 38-28, on Sunday night.

The Chargers (2-2), outgained nearly four to one until late in the third quarter, made an apparent blowout close as Philip Rivers threw touchdown passes of 30 yards to Antonio Gates and 13 yards to Chris Chambers and Jacob Hester scored on a 41-yard fumble return, all in the fourth quarter.

Running back Mewelde Moore caught a touchdown pass and threw for another to Heath Miller on a goal-line play as the Steelers (2-2), beaten in the closing seconds by Chicago and Cincinnati the previous two weeks, built such a big lead that they withstood another bad fourth quarter. Jeff Reed finished it off with a 46-yard field goal in the final minute.

The first three plays showed how the AFC playoff rematch from a year ago would play out. Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward for 15 yards each and rookie Mike Wallace for 35, and Mendenhall -- subbing for the injured Willie Parker -- needed three carries to cover the final 14 yards for his first career touchdown with only 3:11 gone.

Roethlisberger finished 26 for 33 passing for 333 yards and Ward had eight catches for 113 yards.

"We had to answer the bell," Roethlisberger said. "We did it all night long on offense. [Mendenhall] did a great job running the ball. The offensive line did a great job opening up holes."

After San Diego went three and out, the Steelers put together a 75-yard drive that began with three Mendenhall runs but ended with Roethlisberger finding Ward for 15, Holmes for 11 and Moore twice for 23 yards, with the touchdown covering 19 yards.

Mendenhall began the game with 103 yards rushing in his career. He had 100 yards by late in the third quarter and added a 32-yard run in the fourth.

"I wanted people to see me and who I am," Mendenhall said. "This was a time that I was able to do that, play a full game for the first time in my career. The offensive line did a great job as a unit."

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