<
>

Maddox throws three, Ward catches two

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- For the first time in seven weeks, the
Pittsburgh Steelers know what it's like to win. They said it won't
make much difference unless they win the next seven weeks, too.

Tommy Maddox threw three touchdown passes, two to Hines Ward
barely a minute apart in a 21-point third quarter, and the Steelers
ended their five-game losing streak and Arizona's two-game winning
streak with a 28-15 victory Sunday.

Question on the Cardinals: Do you see the Cards sticking with Blake next year?
Jeff Blake seems to be the a quick fix to get them over the hump until they find someone who can be their future. Blake's veteran leadership combined with running back Marcel Shipp's great play will keep this team competive. But if they get an opportunity to get a quarterback next year, they'll probably take it.

Question on the Steelers: How bad did the Steelers need a breakout game like this?
This type of performance has been long overdue, but it may have come too late in the season. After a five-game losing streak it's obvious that the Steelers are merely playing for pride for the rest of the season.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Maddox hit Chris Doering on a 9-yard touchdown pass in the
second quarter to finish off an 83-yard drive that was the
Steelers' longest since their opener. Maddox then found Ward on
touchdown plays of 5 and 22 yards early in the third quarter
following a short punt and a fumble.

"It wasn't one of our better games, but it was a win and, right
now, every game is a must win for us," Ward said. "Every game is
like a one-game playoff."

Antwaan Randle El also had a 52-yard punt return touchdown as
the Steelers scored all but seven of their points in the first 8{
minutes of the third quarter.

"It's obvious this ballgame flipped in the third quarter,"
Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said. "This was very disappointing
coming off two wins and a 7-3 game at halftime. Two possessions and
a punt return and it's a completely different game."

Their best quarter of a so-far miserable year gave the Steelers
a sliver of hope for the second half of their season.

"Well, it was a win," coach Bill Cowher said, though with not
a lot of enthusiasm. "It's nice to finally win a game."

Despite falling three games behind Baltimore in the AFC North,
the Steelers (3-6) hope a soft remaining schedule -- only the Ravens
started the day above .500 -- can help them get back into the
division race. Only one NFL team has made the playoffs after
starting 2-6, Cincinnati in 1970, and none has done so since the
league adopted a 16-game schedule in 1978.

"We have to go 8-0 (in the second half) to get to 10-6 ... I
don't think 9-7 will do it," linebacker Joey Porter said. "We
wish we weren't 3-6, but we know we can still get it done."

The Cardinals (3-6), winless in nine road games dating to last
season, certainly cooperated. They didn't score a touchdown until
Jeff Blake's 11-yard pass to Anquan Boldin with Pittsburgh up 28-3.

Blake has passed for 1,548 yards in his last five starts against
Pittsburgh, but threw for only 48 yards in the first half before
finishing 23-of-43 for 307 yards. Marcel Shipp was held to 63 yards
on 22 carries after rushing for 306 yards the previous two weeks.

"The third quarter just killed us," Blake said. "They just
blew us out and ... it was too late to get it done."

Arizona had a chance to make it 28-16 early in the fourth,
driving to a first down at the Pittsburgh 5. But Blake threw three
straight incompletions before hitting Bryant Johnson near the goal
line on a fourth-and-goal pass.

The officials initially ruled Johnson came up short, and Arizona
coach Dave McGinnis challenged the call. After the review, referee
Jeff Triplette decided Johnson came down in the end zone, but was
an ineligible receiver because he went out of bounds before making
the catch.

Blake got a second chance on what became fourth-and-goal from
the 10 following the five-yard penalty, but was tripped up for no
gain by Jason Gildon. Blake later hit Johnson on a 54-yard score,
but with only 17 seconds remaining.

Gildon had three sacks after getting only two in eight games and
finally broke L.C. Greenwood's team career record of 73{ sacks.
Gildon now has 76 sacks.

Pittsburgh, which had allowed at least 30 points in losing three
consecutive home games, broke it open after Scott Player's 24-yard
punt out of his own end zone on Arizona's first possession of the
second half. The Steelers took over at the 27, and a 22-yard pass
interference call on Renaldo Hill led to Ward's 5-yard touchdown
catch.

Kimo Von Oelhoffen then recovered a Deshea Townsend-forced
fumble on the second play of Arizona's next possession, and Maddox
(12-of-24, 159 yards) hit Ward for his second touchdown catch in 67
seconds. Townsend also had a sack while making his first start of
the season at cornerback for the demoted Dewayne Washington.

Game notes
The Cardinals played in Pittsburgh for the first time in 20
years. They are 0-2 there since 1969. ... Arizona has scored only
59 points while going 0-4 on the road. ... The Steelers have
allowed only one 100-yard rusher this season, Kansas City's Priest
Holmes. ... Randle El also had an 84-yard punt return touchdown two
weeks ago against St. Louis. ... The Steelers hadn't won since
beating Cincinnati 17-10 on Sept. 21.