Backup tight end Spaeth stunned by two key drops
Matt Spaeth watched it all slip through his hands, just as Ben Roethlisberger's passes escaped his grasp in the end zone.
The Steelers tight end had a chance to provide a thrilling end to Sunday's game against the New York Jets, to bookend his first touchdown reception of the season with a game-winner in the final nine seconds.
And he dropped the ball -- twice.
A stunned Spaeth was apologetic after the Steelers' 22-17 loss to the Jets at Heinz Field, knowing he could have capped an 82-yard drive in the final 2:08 with a 10-yard touchdown catch.
"I could have been the hero," said Spaeth, starting a second consecutive game for Heath Miller (concussion). "Guys made plays all day, especially on that last drive, and it was my turn to step up and make a play, and I couldn't do it."
A scrambling Roethlisberger looked for his tallest target twice in the final two plays, although the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Spaeth cut in front of intended receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the back of the end zone on second-and-goal from the 10 only to let the pass go through his hands.
"It was a great throw," Spaeth said. "I should have caught it."
With two seconds left, Roethlisberger lofted a pass to Spaeth in the left corner of the end zone, but the tight end bobbled the ball before cornerback Marquice Cole broke up the play as time expired.
Roethlisberger, however, would hear nothing about Spaeth being the goat.
"I would never blame Matt," Roethlisberger said. "I thought he made a great effort. He played a great game today. He made a lot of big-time catches, big-time plays. He did a great job of stepping up, not knowing especially if Heath is going to play. I'll take this one on me because I need to make more big plays. Never blame those guys or anybody else. It's on me."
The Jets had struggled to contain tight ends all season, allowing 100-yard games to New England's Aaron Hernandez (six catches for 101) and Houston's Joel Dreessen (four for 106). Spaeth's 9-yard touchdown catch of a Roethlisberger frozen rope between two defenders capped a 16-play, 96-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter, but he finished with just three receptions for 27 yards despite being targeted eight times.
Spaeth was hoping for a big game but didn't deliver what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would call a "Heath-like" performance.
"Heath's an unbelievable player. We missed him today, but I felt like I had a good chance to step up and fill in his shoes," Spaeth said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way in the end."
Steelers vs. Jets 12/1 9⁄10
The Jets defeat the Steelers, 22-17, Sunday December 19, 2010 at Heinz Field.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman dies after bleeding on sidewalk outside Carrick pizzeria
- Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line
- Former Pirates pitcher Happ agrees to $36 million, 3-year deal with Blue Jays
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt
- Puppy, pals come to rescue of Lower Burrell firefighters
- Nuclear crossroad: California reactors face uncertain future
- Unabashed church pastors put politics front and center
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Republicans roll dice as Trump headlines Pennsylvania Society event
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami