PITTSBURGH, OCT. 29 -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' special teams overcame their own bungling and became something special tonight.
Embarrassed a week ago at San Francisco when they allowed the 49ers to recover a kickoff at the 5, and victimized tonight by Gaston Green's 100-yard return of the opening kickoff, the Pittsburgh special teams made a 180-degree turn in helping the Steelers defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 41-10.
The offense and defense certainly helped. Bubby Brister had four touchdown passes, two following interceptions; Merril Hoge had three touchdowns; and Pittsburgh's league-leading pass defense limited Jim Everett to 15 completions in 34 attempts for 176 yards.
But it was the special teams that set the tone. Rod Woodson returned kickoffs 44 and 49 yards to set up two field goals by Gary Anderson. And Larry Griffin and Dwight Stone combined to stuff Rams punter Keith English, setting up a one-yard run by Hoge that made it 27-10 in the third quarter. On the play before the botched kick -- a punt to the Steelers 33 -- the Rams' Robert Delpino was illegally downfield.
"It was a terrible game for us," said Coach John Robinson, whose Rams are 2-5. "We made about every error we could make. We didn't play a football game at all. We self-destructed in all phases of the game."
After Green's touchdown, the Steelers (4-4) tied the score at 7 on a 75-yard, eight-play drive, capped by a six-yard Brister-to-Hoge touchdown. Brister was six for six for 61 yards on the drive.
Late in the first period, David Johnson intercepted a pass by Everett and returned it 34 yards to the 17. On the next play, Brister hit Eric Green for the 275-pound rookie tight end's sixth touchdown.
Mike Lansford's 32-yard field goal 45 seconds into the second period made the score 14-10.