Randle El's Fifth Career Touchdown Pass Revived Memories

LexisNexis Feed Matt Pawlikowski Correspondent ,
Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
Nov 12, 2010 8:02 AM ET

CINCINNATI - The Steelers aren't a flashy team. They play old-school football. And when it came down to the 27-21 win over the Bengals on Monday night, once again it wasn't pretty, but what mattered is the team is now 6-2, and in the AFC North hunt.

"The biggest thing is to keep moving forward in the division," said Antwaan Randle El, the Steelers' equivalent of a baseball utility player. "We know we have a loss to Baltimore, but we have to keep moving forward and keep winning divisional games. Those are important at the end of the year."

When you have a player who is as versatile as Randle El, it's hard not to come up with some trickery. Originally drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2002 draft, Randle El is best remembered for his game-clinching 43-yard double-reverse touchdown pass to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL.

Monday night it was a similar trick play which gave the Steelers their winning points over the Bengals. This time, Randle El's fifth career touchdown pass came from 39 yards out, to fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace.

"They lined up in man-to-man coverage against me," Wallace said of the catch. "They had great coverage. It was a great throw by Antwaan Randle El. He went back to his Indiana days."

Wallace was referring to the fact that Randle El, the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2001 for the Hoosiers, is still considered one of the greatest offensive threats in the history of college football, with what he accomplished there as a quarterback.

"We practiced it a couple of times, but that particular play hasn't been practiced too long," Randle El said with a smile. "It was always in the arsenal. BA (offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) called it up, and I thank God for the opportunity to be able to have the play called and to be able to run it. We had the perfect spot to run it and we cashed in on it."

The Steelers seemed to toy with the idea of it all night as they ran the reverse with El several times, although El said differently.

"We weren't trying to set it up. We kind of knew we had it our bag," Randle El said. "We always try to do those things in terms of me getting in motion, getting me the ball or getting the ball to someone else. We just tried to get in their minds' thinking, and when we got to that perfect time, we just dialed it up."

While Randle El set an NFL record with best completion percentage by a quarterback with 20 or more passes, he deferred all credit to Wallace, saying it was a great play by the second-year player.

"Did you see the end zone? There wasn't much left. I had to put it on the line and give Mike a chance, that's what I tried to do," Randle El said. "The guy had his back turned, so I said 'don't throw it out of bounds.' Mike made a great play, you have to give him kudos for coming back and making the play on that ball."

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who became a blocker on the play, said it brought back memories.

"It was a great play. It was reminiscent of a play he had either in my rookie year or second year here," Roethlisberger said. "We were going the same way. It was neat to watch, even though I was on the ground watching."