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Banged-up Steelers lose Parker in win at Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Troy Polamalu called himself an
accidental hero.

His 77-yard touchdown return of Brett Favre's fumble set the
stage for Pittsburgh's 20-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on
Sunday, when both teams turned to their stingy defenses to bail out
their injury-ravaged offenses.

"I thought our defense played outstanding," said Favre, whose
streak of 27 straight home games with a touchdown pass came to an
end. "We have to help them out."

Green Bay held the Steelers without a single third-down
conversion, allowed just two field goals and a 20-yard TD drive.

Not bad, but not as good as Pittsburgh.

The Steelers forced three turnovers that they turned into 17
points, including Polamalu's score on a play in which Favre was
kicking himself for not just going to his hot read right away and
settling for a field goal instead of trying to buy enough time for
Walt Williams to get open for a touchdown.

Polamalu was kicking himself, too -- but only for a split second.

"I missed the sack, which is pretty disappointing," Polamalu
said. "Bryant McFadden made a great play. And fortunately enough,
he had the sack and the fumble. I just saw the ball lying there and
picked it up ran."

The Steelers (6-2) became the first team since the 1989-90 San
Francisco 49ers and the fourth team overall to win 11 straight road
games. And they did it without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
(knee) and running back Jerome Bettis (thigh), who were joined on
the sideline in the second half by starting tailback Willie Parker,
who turned his left ankle.

Duce Staley, who replaced Bettis and had his first carries since
the AFC championship in January, ran for 76 yards and a touchdown
on 15 carries.

The Packers fell to 1-7 at the halfway point for the first time
since 1986 under Forrest Gregg.

They've been in every game until the closing minutes and have
actually outscored their opponents 168-159 -- a first for an NFL
team that lost seven of its first eight.

"If we were getting stomped and crushed every time we played
somebody, it probably would be hard to be optimistic," linebacker
Nick Barnett said. "But we're right there. We're a play away, an
inch away. And it is frustrating that we're not getting that inch
or we're not getting that play."

Polamalu's TD return came in the first half, when Green Bay
trailed 6-3 and was about to forge ahead thanks to his 33-yard pass
interference penalty that put the Packers on the Pittsburgh 3.

Consecutive false starts backed up the Packers to the 12, when
they went to an empty backfield on third-and-goal.

Big mistake.

McFadden came on a cornerback blitz and wrapped up Favre for an
11-yard sack, spinning him to the ground and forcing the ball to
pop out. Polamalu scooped it up and rumbled 77 yards for the big
swing.

"You can put that one on me, that was my call," Packers coach
Mike Sherman said.

McFadden wasn't just satisfied with his first NFL sack on the
play. He also provided the block on speedy tight end Donald Lee
that allowed Polamalu to reach the end zone, something Pittsburgh's
offense failed to do until it got the short field thanks to Tyrone
Carter's interception in the fourth quarter.

Carter grabbed his fourth career interception when the ball
bounced off Donald Driver and into his hands at the Packers' 20
with 8:11 left and Pittsburgh clinging to a 13-10 lead.

Four plays later, Staley slipped a backfield tackle by Barnett
and trotted in from 3 yards out.

"I'm going to put it on my shoulders," Driver said. "If I
make that catch we win the game."

Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch made his first start
since Dec. 2, 2001, when he was with Detroit. He completed 9 of 16
passes for 65 yards and one interception.

Pittsburgh settled for short field goals by Jeff Reed to take a
6-0 lead, which Ryan Longwell cut in half with a 40-yarder that
made him the first Green Bay player to score 1,000 points in his
career.

Longwell, however, was wide right from 31 yards after a
promising 18-play drive by Green Bay that ate up 9½ minutes but
stalled at the 13.

The Packers finally punched it in when Samkon Gado scored his
first career touchdown from a yard out with 7:26 left in the third
quarter, cutting Pittsburgh's lead to 13-10.

"I know I can play at this level, but I'm not happy with the
way I got my chance, said Gado, whose 62 yards on 26 carries were a
season high for the Packers.

Game notes
The Packers were down to their fifth-string running back
after Tony Fisher (fractured rib) was deactivated and ReShard Lee
fumbled away on his second carry Sunday. ... WR Hines Ward caught
just one pass, leaving him three shy of passing John Stallworth
(536) for most in Steelers history.

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