By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com Rookie defensive end Ziggy Hood was called upon to step up against the Ravens and he answered.
Hood, the team's 2009 first-round pick, saw more playing time with Brett Keisel sidelined because of a stinger. He responded with his first NFL sack and recovered a fumble to end the Ravens' final drive of the game.
"He made a few plays for us," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "He's a young guy kind of taking advantage of opportunities. He made a few timely plays for us. He's a quality young player, he's going to be a good player, not soon enough for us, not soon enough for him but we're seeing strides week in and week out. We're excited about what he could be. He helped us which is good."
Another rookie who continues to impress is wide receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace had three receptions for 83 yards, including a key 45-yard reception on a third-and-two that eventually led to Santonio Holmes touchdown reception.
"He's done a great job every week," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "He keeps impressing. He keeps getting better, and like I said the sky is the limit for him."
For the first time in team history the Steelers have two 1,000-yard receivers, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 4,000-yard passer.
Hines Ward currently has 1,106 receiving yards, while Santonio Holmes has 1,243 yards. Rashard Mendenhall passed the 1,000-yard mark against the Ravens, with 1,014 on the season. Ben Roethlisberger became the first Steelers quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards, with 4,108 to date.
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The Steelers close out the regular season when they play the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. at Land Shark Stadium in Miami on Sunday, Jan. 3.
Playoff hopes remain alive for the Steelers, though. According to the NFL, the Steelers would clinch a playoff spot one of three ways: Steelers win and Houston and New York lose or tie; Steelers win and Houston and Baltimore lose or tie; and Steelers win and Jets, Baltimore and Denver lose or tie.