PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger was down on the Heinz Field turf, his right knee throbbing, and feared the worst.
Turns out, the searing pain was only temporary.
Just like his team's slow start.
Roethlisberger overcame a questionable shot to the knees to throw for 298 yards and a touchdown as the Pittsburgh Steelers rebounded from a horrific opening week loss with a 24-0 rout over Seattle on Sunday.
"We made improvements, but there's still a long way to go for us," Roethlisberger said.
The road, however, is a little bit shorter after the Steelers (1-1) toyed with listless Seattle (0-2).
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The Seahawks managed 164 yards and didn't take a snap on Pittsburgh's side of the field until the fourth quarter while getting shut out for the second straight time in the Steel City.
"We'd didn't score a point, period, and that is just embarrassing," said Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
An emotion the Steelers could identify with after getting rocked by rival Baltimore 35-7 a week ago. The loss sparked criticism that the defending AFC champions looked old on defense and undisciplined on offense while absorbing the franchise's worst opening-day loss in 14 years.
Though the veteran-laden club insisted it was too early to panic, it wasn't too early for a reality check, one which coach Mike Tomlin was only too happy to provide even after pushing the Seahawks around for 60 minutes.
"I am still chewing on last week," Tomlin said. "I am sure we all are. That's just the nature of this thing. It's not going to take one performance to take that stench off of us."
Maybe, but the Steelers were eager to get back to business after what wide receiver Mike Wallace described as the longest six days of his career. He did his part, catching eight passes for 126 yards and a score to post his sixth consecutive 100-yard regular season game.
The touchdown - a perfectly thrown 2-yard fade by Roethlisberger -- and his 53-yard bomb both came in the third quarter not long after the franchise quarterback was face down on the turf after getting decked by Seattle's Raheem Brock.
The Steelers were driving late in the second quarter when Roethlisberger stepped up to complete a pass to Heath Miller. Brock dived at Roethlisberger's legs just as he let go of the ball, drawing a flag for roughing the passer and a gasp from the crowd.
|The offense didn't cross midfield until the fourth quarter, permitted five sacks and hardly converted on third down. The defense, despite a goalline stand and a missed field goal, forced only a one punt with the outcome still in the balance. The special teams pulled up their grade.|
|For as putrid as the Steelers played a week earlier in Baltimore, this equated to an SAT perfect score. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 298 yards. The running game collected more than 100. The defense conjured five sacks. And Week 1 star Daniel Sepulveda hardly punted. Still, the competition was young, weak.|
|By Chuck Finder|
Roethlisberger, surrounded by his teammates, remained still while the trainers checked him out. He made it to his feet then gingerly walked to the sideline while backup Charlie Batch warmed up.
Three players later Roethlisberger was back in the game, throwing an incompletion that forced the Steelers settle for a Shaun Suisham field goal and a 17-0 halftime lead. Though Roethlisberger wasn't 100 percent, there wasn't much of an argument when he told Tomlin he was ready to go.
"It's not anything mystical," Tomlin said. "We lean on the expertise of our medical staff. They were comfortable with where he was. He was comfortable."
Or at least comfortable enough to pick apart a Seattle defense that spent way too much time on the field. Pittsburgh controlled the ball for nearly 39 minutes, ran 66 plays and would have made it even more lopsided if not for a missed field goal and an early goal line stand by the Seahawks.
"I felt like we could have scored a lot more points than we did, but we won the game and that's what's most important right now," Roethlisberger said.
Particularly for a defense that looked a step slow against the Ravens, who piled up 170 yards rushing and pushed the Steelers around.
Seattle hoped to do the same thanks to the return of guard Robert Gallery, who missed the opener with an injury, but it never happened. The Seahawks had 35 yards on the ground, converted 2 of 12 third downs and let Jackson get sacked five times.
"This is a process we are in and it is hard lesson to learn to come out here and go at these guys and really not accomplish anything at all on offense and getting knocked around some," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
Pittsburgh wasted little time attacking, quickly moving deep inside Seattle territory before encountering a case of deja vu.
The Steelers went for it on fourth-and-goal at the Seattle 1 when the Seahawks stuffed Rashard Mendenhall just before the goal line. The Steelers challenged the play, sending referee Bill Leavy under the hood for a second look.
Leavy called Pittsburgh's 21-10 win over the Seahawks in the 2006 Super Bowl, a game marred by what Leavy has admitted were a couple of bad calls against Seattle, including a dubious touchdown awarded to Roethlisberger on a quarterback sneak in which it appeared the ball might not have made it to the end zone.
This time, there was no controversy. Mendenhall was stopped short of the end zone, but it was a brief reprieve for Seattle.
The Steelers just kept coming, marching 60 yards on nine plays the second time they had the ball with Mendenhall bulling in from a yard out to put Pittsburgh on the board.
Reserve running back Ike Redman made it 14-0 with an impressive 20-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and it was more than enough for Pittsburgh.
The defense labeled "done" by at least one analyst a week ago swarmed the Seahawks, who are still searching for an identity now that longtime quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has moved on to Tennessee.
Seattle played without wide receiver Sidney Rice, inactive for the second straight game with a shoulder injury. He might have helped, but likely not enough to keep Seattle heading back west winless.
Jackson didn't turn it over but failed to make plays downfield. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 159 yards, his longest completion went for just 17 yards. Three Steelers had receptions of 19 yards or longer.
"The biggest frustration is that we're just better than what we're putting on the field on Sunday," said receiver Mike Williams. "We just have to keep working."
|Sun. Sept. 18||Final|
|TD||Rashard Mendenhall, 1 Yd run (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 3:28. Drive: 9 plays, 60 yards in 4:51.|
|TD||Isaac Redman, 20 Yd run (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 12:41. Drive: 6 plays, 53 yards in 2:40.|
|FG||Shaun Suisham, 20 Yd, 1:52. Drive: 14 plays, 81 yards in 7:43.|
|TD||Mike Wallace, 2 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 3:30. Drive: 9 plays, 71 yards in 5:47.|
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