By Teresa Varley
After not seeing the field on offense against the Bengals a week ago because of poor preparation leading up to the game, Rashard Mendenhall wanted a chance to show it was a fluke. He wanted to prove to his coaches, his teammates and fans what he was capable of doing and what happened during that week wasn't the norm.
He got that chance on Sunday night against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field. And he proved a lot. He showed his resiliency, his drive and he what he can do when given the ball.
Mendenhall started the game with Willie Parker sidelined with a turf toe and responded to all of the challenges with 29 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
"All I wanted was a chance to be out there and to play and for people to see me and who I am because people haven't seen me play too much to this point," said Mendenhall. "It's frustrating being a player, a competitor, from last year being hurt and last week not being able to play. To finally get a chance you got to take advantage of any opportunities you get."
Coach Mike Tomlin chose not to play Mendenhall against the Bengals for what he said was a lack of attention to detail. A few days after the game, Tomlin said it was behind them and Mendenhall just had to go out and do what the coach knew all along he was capable of.
"I don't lack confidence in Rashard, even prior to tonight," said Tomlin after the game. "I think I've said that several times. He's a very talented young man, a good guy. He went through what some guys go through. He addressed it and moved forward and tonight he showed what he's capable of doing. He needs to continue to do that and build off of that as we move forward. I'm sure that's his mindset, but more importantly we're going to make sure that our actions match our mentality.
"He played a good game. He had a good weeks practice. I'm not going to take any credit to that. I didn't rush for a yard tonight. He did a nice job."
Mendenhall made an impact early, carrying the ball three times on the opening drive, including a one-yard touchdown run. He was called upon time and time again, and each time responded.
"Rashard definitely proved himself," said tackle Max Starks. "He was toting the rock with authority."
And for the second-year running back, that is just what he wanted. He knew he could get the job done, he is just happy he had the opportunity to show others the same.
"I've never had doubts in myself," said Mendenhall. "I've been confident and calm and waiting on a chance and an opportunity. For me to get knocked down and have to regroup and come back, this is all I've been working towards."