The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the St. Louis Rams 10-0 at halftime despite re-shuffling their offensive line from the outset and then juggling it once again after just two plays in their opening possession.
With starter Maurkice Pouncey out for the second straight game with a left high-ankle sprain, Doug Legursky started at center, and Trai Essex was the left offensive guard for Legursky. The Steelers also started veteran Jonathan Scott for rookie Marcus Gilbert at right tackle with no explanation.
Legursky injured his left shoulder after backup quarterback Charlie Batch slipped a sack attempt and tossed a short pass to running back Rashard Mendenhall, who rumbled 35 yards to change field position. As Legursky was taken to the locker room for X-rays, Essex moved to center, while Chris Kemoeatu took over at left guard.
Still, the Steelers drove from their 21 to the 11, but a five-yard toss to Mike Wallace and three-yard burst by Rashard Mendenhall made it third-and-two at the 3. Batch’s pass on a line to Wallace at the goal line caromed off his hands with the defender’s hands in there as well.
So, Shaun Suisham had to kick a 21-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead that held up until the Rashard Mendenhall show began. The fourth-year running back, who has run well in spurts this season, had three carries for 65 yards — including a 52-yard burst to the 10 — put the club in scoring range.
Rookie John Clay, freshly promoted from the practice squad Friday, powered into the end zone from the 10 for a touchdown on his first NFL carry. Clay was not on the active roster all season. Mendenhall had 97 yards on just 10 carries during the first half to build on his 3.8 yards per carry this season.
The Rams came close to points with time running out, but Josh Brown’s 52-yard field-goal attempt was wide left.