STEELERS 27, RAMS 0
Steelers' record: 11-4
One year ago: 11-4
Series record (including playoffs): Rams lead, 17-8-2
Their fate was no longer within their control, but the Steelers entered the game against the Rams with a chance to win the AFC North Division, to get a first-round bye in the playoffs, even to be the No. 1 seed in the conference. And even as remote a possibility as that might be, it would be even more of a long-shot if the Steelers didn't take care of business and defeat the Rams.
It was a four-play sequence midway through the second quarter of a game in which there had been very little dynamic offense by either team to that point. But after taking possession at their own 25-yard line following a Rams punt, the Steelers went to their ground attack. Rashard Mendenhall gained 13 yards on two carries before bursting up the middle for 52 on the next play to put the ball at the Rams 10-yard line. John Clay scored on the next play, another run, and the Steelers had a 10-0 lead, which proved to be all the cushion they would need this afternoon.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
By going over 1,000 yards receiving on the season, Antonio Brown joined Mike Wallace in breaking that plateau this season. The last time the Steelers had two receivers go over 1,000 yards was in 2009 when Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes did it.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* The Rams were faced with a third-and-2 at the Steelers 48-yard line on the game's opening possession, when Kellen Clemens threw a quick slant pass to Brandon Lloyd. After diving for the ball, Lloyd was able to get up and complete a 22-yard catch-and-run. Coach Mike Tomlin challenged whether Lloyd trapped the ball, and upon review the call was reversed and the Rams punted.
- Even though the Steelers had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham for another failure in the red zone, Rashard Mendenhall made a considerable contribution to the 76-yard drive that led to the field goal. Mendenhall carried four times for 23 yards and also caught a short pass that he turned into a 35-yard gain.
- On a fourth-and-10, the Rams tried a fake punt. Donnie Jones took the snap and first looked like he was going to try to pass, but then he started to run around the right side. Jones got around the corner thanks to a hold by Bryan Kehl on Isaac Redman that went uncalled, but Antonio Brown came all the way up from his spot as the returner to make the tackle on Jones 1 yard short of the sticks.
- On a third-and-short near midfield early in the third quarter, Rams running back Steven Jackson ran a wheel route out of the backfield, and thanks to a bit of a pick from WR Brandon Lloyd he was running free only to have Kellen Clemens overthrow him.
- After rushing for 46 yards on seven carries to be the driving force on a Rams possession that reached the Steelers 12-yard line, Steven Jackson was dumped for a 3-yard loss on third-and-short when Troy Polamalu read the play and shot a gap to make the tackle in the backfield. After the loss, Josh Brown missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.
- This is how you flip field position. From the Steelers 32-yard line, Jeremy Kapinos got off a 55-yard punt, and Cortez Allen dumped the return guy for no gain. Then because of an illegal block penalty on the Rams, the St. Louis offensive possession began at the 6-yard line. When the Steelers defense pitched a three-and-out, their offense got the ball back at their own 49-yard line.
- Antonio Brown set a franchise record with 2,048 all-purpose yards, a total that includes rushing, receiving and return yards. Brown broke the record set by Barry Foster in 1992 when he accumulated 2,034 all-purpose yards.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* Two plays into their opening offensive possession of the game, Doug Legursky left with an injury to his left arm. With Maurkice Pouncey inactive with a high ankle sprain, that left Trai Essex as the only guy in uniform with what could be called experience at center.
- On a second-and-6 from the Rams 30-yard line, Charlie Batch slipped as he planted his back foot on a pass attempt, and in the process of coming back for the ball Antonio Brown slipped as well. Josh Gordy took advantage to make the interception.
- Marcus Gilbert was not injured, but he also didn't start at right tackle in the game against the Rams. The first inking anyone had of this was when the Steelers starting offense was announced to the Heinz Field crowd, and Jonathan Scott was at right tackle. Scott played the entire game at right tackle, while Gilbert was limited to blocking for field goals and extra points. "He was less than professional in preparation this week," said Coach Mike Tomlin. There is precedent for this kind of a decision by Tomlin. He did the same thing with Rashard Mendenhall leading up to a 2009 game against the Bengals.