- Associated Press - Monday, September 26, 2011

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Hines Ward watched teammate Mike Wallace streaking toward the end zone in the first quarter against Indianapolis on Sunday night and the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver figured the rout was on.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing darts all over Lucas Oil Stadium. Wallace continuing his ascension as one of the game’s most dynamic players. A quick 10 points before the game was 12 minutes old and a proud defense still smarting from a week one loss to Baltimore only too happy to take some of its anger out on aging and ineffective Kerry Collins.

Time for the defending AFC champions to start playing like it, right?

Not exactly.

“It looked like it was going to be a blowout,” Ward said, “but then we let their team back in.”

And kept right on doing it all the way until the end.

The Steelers (2-1) escaped with a 23-20 victory thanks to Shaun Suisham’s 38-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining. They’ll take it, of course, even if their sloppy play over the last three quarters raised more questions than it answered.

“As long as we come out ahead at the end with more points than the other team, I don’t care how it is,” linebacker James Harrison said. “We aren’t looking for style points here.”

Good, because there weren’t many to go around.

While Roethlisberger passed for 364 yards, he also fumbled twice and added an interception. The three turnovers led to 13 points that allowed the Colts to take an unlikely halftime lead.

Even though Roethlisberger spent much of the night under siege by Indianapolis defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis _ who combined for three sacks and two forced fumbles _ the Steelers were forced to rely on their quarterback to make plays thanks to a running game that continues to be stuck in neutral.

Rashard Mendenhall managed just 37 yards on 18 carries despite facing a unit that came into the game near the bottom in the league against the run. Mendenhall found himself on the sideline during Pittsburgh’s game-winning drive, giving way to reserves Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman.

Coach Mike Tomlin downplayed the substitution as a lack of faith in Mendenhall, who has posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

“We were just in two-minute football,” Tomlin said. “Of course we’ve got a great deal of comfort in what Mewelde is capable of doing and you saw what he’s capable of doing.”

The Steelers would like to see it more often, though it may be difficult if the offensive line remains ineffective getting any push at the line of scrimmage.

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