Final

Steelers 41

(10-5, 3-4 away)

Rams 24

(3-12, 1-7 home)

Coverage: NFL

8:00 PM ET, December 20, 2007

Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO 

1 2 3 4 T
PIT 7 17 7 1041
STL 7 10 7 024

Top Performers

Passing: B. Roethlisberger (PIT) - 261 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: N. Davenport (PIT) - 24 CAR, 123 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: S. Holmes (PIT) - 4 REC, 133 YDS

Davenport replaces injured Parker, rushes Steelers to victory

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Willie Parker's season ended after his first carry, and the Pittsburgh Steelers will miss the NFL's leading rusher if they get to the playoffs. But they don't miss him yet.

Najeh Davenport, a career backup running back with typical non-descript statistics, has two huge games since entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2002. Both have come against the St. Louis Rams, with Davenport's two-touchdown, 123-yard rushing effort pacing a 41-24 victory on Thursday night.

"I took it upon myself to put the offense on my back and carry it," Davenport said. "He's our guy, he's our breadwinner. Not having him, everyone has to pick it up a level."

Parker was hurt in the first quarter, the Steelers plenty of time to adjust to the new reality.

"Our heart goes out to him because he's a competitor, he's a warrior," coach Mike Tomlin said. "As a team, we're not going to throw a pity party. It's part of the game, people get hurt, we'll adapt and improvise and move forward."

The Steelers' top-rated defense was porous again, yet they made enough stops to help Pittsburgh (10-5) out of a late-season swoon and move one step closer to the playoffs. They're still thinking beyond just a playoff berth, though.

"With Willie down it's going to take something away from us," said Nate Washington, who caught two touchdown passes. "If we dwell on Willie being down it's going to be that much tougher for us to get to [the Super Bowl], and we don't need anything else making it hard for us."

Isaac Bruce caught a 12-yard touchdown pass and moved into third place on the career yards receiving list, moving ahead of James Lofton, for the Rams. Marc Bulger threw three touchdown passes but was intercepted twice, and Ike Taylor's 51-yard return on an overthrown ball on 4th-and-10 with 3:46 to go put the game out of reach.

Wide receiver Torry Holt was caught on cameras screaming at coach Scott Linehan after the interception.

"It's not a big deal, not to me," Linehan said. "It something said in the heat of the battle to his coach and it's over as far as I'm concerned."

Pittsburgh had taken a 10-point lead on a 29-yard field goal by Jeff Reed only seven plays earlier.

Besides the Bruce milestone, the only other highlight for the Rams (3-12) was retiring Marshall Faulk's No. 28 jersey at halftime of the Rams home finale.

St. Louis finished 1-7 at home and had three games blacked out because it didn't sell out, and in each of the last two weeks there have been nearly as many visitors as home fans in the Edward Jones Dome.

Parker, who has 1,316 yards, limped off the field with a broken bone in his lower right leg in the first quarter after only one carry for minus-1 yard. Davenport eased any worries with a game that rivaled his 178-yard effort for the Packers against the Rams, in a 45-17 Monday Night victory in 2004. He was filling in for Ahman Green at the time.

"They just executed," Linehan said. "It didn't matter who was in there."

Ben Roethlisberger was 16-for-20 for 261 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for the Steelers (10-5), who had lost three of five to fall into a tie with the Browns for the AFC North lead. Roethlisberger had his first 200-yard passing effort in five games by halftime, helping to revive a struggling offense.

The Steelers, 8-8 last season, can clinch the division with a Cleveland loss at Cincinnati on Sunday. They also can clinch a playoff berth if the Titans lose to the Jets.

Davenport entered the game with 349 yards, a 4.9-yard average and three touchdowns as Parker's backup. His best game before Thursday came against the Seahawks when he had 58 yards rushing on seven carries and two touchdowns.

Bulger was 18-for-35 for 208 yards and Steven Jackson had 85 yards on 12 carries for the Rams, who had 316 yards total offense.

Game notes


Bulger has 105 touchdown passes, pulling out of a tie for fourth with Kurt Warner for fourth on the Rams' career list. ... Hines Ward had six catches for 59 yards, passing John Stallworth for the Steelers' career lead in yards receiving. He has 8,741, 18 more than Stallworth. ... The Steelers are 15-2 against NFC opponents dating to 2003. This was their first game in St. Louis since 1979. ... The Rams have been outscored 130-40 in the fourth quarter.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
Pittsburgh
St. Louis
1st Downs2417
3rd down efficiency
4-107-14
4th down efficiency
1-10-2
Total Yards425316
Yards per play6.95.4
Total Drives10
Passing259226
Comp-Att
17-2121-42
Yards per pass
12.35.4
Interceptions thrown
02
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-341-9
Rushing16690
Rushing Attempts
3715
Yards per rush
4.56.0
Penalties2-363-20
Turnovers02
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
02
Possession36:1623:44

Passing Leaders

PITC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Roethli...16/2026113.1304-34
Sepulveda1/13232.0000-0
STLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Bulger18/352085.9321-9
Frerotte3/7273.9000-0

Rushing Leaders

PITCARYDSAVGTDLG
Davenport241235.1118
Davis6284.7012
STLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson12857.1036
Pittman252.503

Receiving Leaders

PITRECYDSAVGTDLG
Holmes413333.3083
Ward6599.8019
STLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Bruce78712.4121
McMichael6518.5014

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERPITSTL
TD10:52Nate Washington 17 Yd Pass From Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed Kick) 70
TD07:14Steven Jackson 12 Yd Pass From Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins Kick) 77
SECOND QUARTERPITSTL
FG14:57Jeff Reed 21 Yd 107
TD13:20Isaac Bruce 12 Yd Pass From Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins Kick) 1014
TD10:39Nate Washington 33 Yd Pass From Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed Kick) 1714
TD01:57Najeh Davenport 12 Yd Pass From Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed Kick) 2414
FG01:01Jeff Wilkins 52 Yd 2417
THIRD QUARTERPITSTL
TD09:22Najeh Davenport 1 Yd Run (Jeff Reed Kick) 3117
TD03:00Drew Bennett 23 Yd Pass From Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins Kick) 3124
FOURTH QUARTERPITSTL
FG04:38Jeff Reed 29 Yd 3424
TD03:46Ike Taylor 51 Yd Interception Return (Jeff Reed Kick) 4124