Falcons doomed by OT run

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PITTSBURGH --- For one game, Ben Roethlisberger's suspension didn't matter. Not with the Pittsburgh Steelers returning to their decades-long cornerstones for winning, defense and the running game.

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Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall dashes to the end zone in overtime to send Pittsburgh to an opening-week victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Mendenhall finished with 22 carries for 120 yards, 70 of which came during regulation.  Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall dashes to the end zone in overtime to send Pittsburgh to an opening-week victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Mendenhall finished with 22 carries for 120 yards, 70 of which came during regulation.

Rashard Mendenhall ran 50 yards for a touchdown 2:35 into overtime and the Steelers overcame a shaky start by replacement quarterback Dennis Dixon and a missed field goal attempt late in regulation to beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-9 on Sunday.

"We've got to prepare for those type of games (without Roethlisberger)," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We'll take a win any way we can get it, anyhow we can get it."

Mendenhall carried 22 times for 120 yards. A Steelers defense that was the NFL's best two seasons ago before slipping a year ago held Atlanta (0-1) to 58 yards rushing -- former All-Pro Michael Turner gained 42 yards -- and three Matt Bryant field goals.

"In the run game, you've got to be patient," said Mendenhall, who cut to his right, found the open field and took it in despite stumbling near the 10 on his game-winner. "You wait all day for something like that to open up. The run game, you've got to stick with it and stick with it."

It was the third overtime game in as many meetings. They played a 34-all tie in 2002 at Heinz Field, and Atlanta won 41-38 at home in 2006.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was 27 of 44 for an ineffectual 252 yards and was intercepted by Troy Polamalu with 1:45 remaining, giving Reed an chance to win it, but he missed from 40.

Roddy White made 13 catches for 111 yards, but the Falcons were within touchdown range only once while being outgained 354-295. Atlanta didn't score until the final play of the first half, when Bryant made a 49-yarder to tie it at 3.

Daily leaders

RUSHING

Arian Foster

Texans

231 yards

3 TDs

PASSING

Peyton Manning

Colts

433 yards

3 TDs

RECEIVING

Chad Ochocinco

Bengals

159 yards

1 TD


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