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Key Third Down Sparks Final Drive

Posted Oct 7, 2012

PITTSBURGH -- It looked like the Eagles defense was on the verge of working its late-game magic once again.

However, a key third down conversion by the Steelers kept the final drive of the game alive as Shaun Suisham's 34-yard field goal as time expired lifted Pittsburgh to a 16-14 win on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.

The Steelers offense entered the game first in the league in third down conversions with a 56 percent success rate. The Eagles defense boasted the third-best third-down defense with opponents enjoying just a 26 percent success rate.

After the Eagles took the lead on tight end Brent Celek's 2-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Michael Vick, the Steelers were quickly faced with a third-and-12 from their own 18-yard line.

The Steelers lined up with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the shotgun. They lined up three receivers - Mike Wallace to the left, Emmanuel Sanders in the slot to the left and Antonio Brown to the right side of the formation. Rookie Brandon Boykin was lined up across from Sanders in the slot in off coverage, while cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was on Brown and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Wallace. Brown ran a wide route and was able to get behind Boykin in the Eagles' zone coverage and Roethlisberger found him for a 20-yard gain.

"We had to make that play," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said, knowing while that wasn't the play that decided the game it was a crucial moment.

Pittsburgh continued to march to the Eagles' 16-yard line while running out the clock to set up Suisham for the game-winning score.

"They're going to catch balls. We still had a chance even though that happened," Boykin said. "It went all the way to the last play."

Boykin was put in the spotlight during the week leading up to the game as Brown called the rookie a "candy bar," saying whomever was matched up against him would eat him up.

The Steelers had one other third down prior to the game-winning field goal. On a third-and-4 from the Eagles' 38-yard line, Roethlisberger hit Sanders on an out route against Boykin for a gain of 7 and the first down. Boykin explained that the Steelers attacked the weakness of the coverage and executed the play well.

The Eagles' three wins this season have been a combined four points. Each of them needed a fourth-quarter comeback and final stand by the defense. The Eagles defense had made key third downs in previous weeks, but it just didn't happen when it needed to Sunday.

"We've had them, it's just being more consistent with them," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said.

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