Sepulveda to Mundy big moment for Steelers
Finally, the Steelers abandoned their unimaginative game plan Sunday. They thumbed through the playbook and dialed up a handful of gimmick plays that rocked the bewildered Tennessee Titans.
Antonio Brown raced for 10 yards on a flanker reverse. They inserted an offensive lineman as an eligible receiver.
But it was punter Daniel Sepulveda who delivered the game-changing, momentum-swinging blow. He tossed a 33-yard pass to defensive back Ryan Mundy on a fake punt early in the second quarter that helped propel the Steelers to a convincing 38-17 victory at Heinz Field on Sunday.
The Sepulveda-Mundy connection was the key play during an eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive that put the Steelers up, 14-3. Hines Ward capped the drive two plays later with his first of two touchdown receptions from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a 7-yarder with 11:14 left in the first half.
"We weren't going to leave any bullets in the gun," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "I saw an opportunity there, and I took advantage of it."
The Steelers took advantage of a Tennessee team that tipped its hand. They stacked the box, practically daring the Steelers to audible on fourth-and-5 at midfield.
"When they have an eight-man box and singling both gunners, that's a look they've shown when coming after the punter," said Sepulveda, whose pass gave the Steelers a first down at the Tennessee 17. "It was a film-study thing. They showed they like to come after the punt, and there are ways to get around that to take the pressure off."
The Titans, who grabbed a 3-0 lead on their first possession, never recovered from Sepulveda's second career pass completion and Mundy's first reception.
"I just had to make sure we had the right look," said Mundy, whose last catch came in 2002 during his senior year at Woodland Hills. "Anytime you get a big play on special teams, it gives you a boost. I was thinking, 'Just catch it,' when I saw the ball coming."
Sepulveda hadn't checked out of a punt since completing his first pass attempt, a 32-yarder to Najeh Davenport, in a 41-21 win over St. Louis during his rookie season in 2007.
The Steelers had done nothing this season to suggest they would call Sepulveda's number.
The Steelers worked on the fake punt only sparingly during practice last week. But Sepulveda worked out his throwing arm more than his leg during Friday's practice.
"I was just messing around in practice this week, but we always have that play in the bag," said Sepulveda, a left-footed kicker who throws righty. "Obviously, going into this week, we knew it was a possibility."
Still, for the second consecutive week, not all was right with the Steelers' special teams. Sepulveda had a punt blocked in the fourth quarter yesterday, and Shaun Suisham had a field goal try swatted down against Houston.
Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans 10/9/11
The Steelers defeat Tennessee, 38-17, Sunday October 9, 2011 at Heinz Field.