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Parker rushes for 213 yards, Steelers snap losing streak

Nov 13, 2006 - 1:00 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Willie Parker grabbed the nation's attention with a Super Bowl-record 75-yard touchdown run last February. Now he has the best rushing performance of the 2006 season.

Parker rushed for a career-high 213 yards and two touchdowns on just 22 carries as the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 38-31 victory over the New Orleans Saints in an interconference contest.

An undrafted third-year player from North Carolina, Parker fell five yards shy of tying Frenchy Fuqua's franchise single-game record of 218 rushing yards in 1970 against Philadelphia.

"I knew nothing about records, but I want to thank the offensive line," Parker said. "They made it easy for me tonight. I had the easy job. They had the tough job in the trenches."

Two of Parker's runs accounted for 148 yards. He busted loose for a 72-yard run before scoring on a three-yard run five seconds into the fourth quarter to snap a 24-24 tie.

Parker broke free again for a 76-yard scamper before racing around left end for a four-yard touchdown, increasing the lead to 38-24 with 9:55 remaining.

"Willie Parker played a tremendous game," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "Every week he never ceases to amaze me. It's fun watching Willie Parker play."

New Orleans (6-3) pulled within 38-31 on a four-yard touchdown run by Deuce McAllister with 8:05 left.

The Saints reached the Pittsburgh 45 with 49 seconds remaining. Drew Brees then connected with Terrance Copper on a 20-yard pass, but Copper fumbled after being hit by Tyrone Carter and fellow safety Ryan Clark recovered for the Steelers (3-6) at the Pittsburgh 25 to seal the win.

"We got a few fumbles today and we went through a game for the first time this season without turning the ball over," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said.

The Steelers entered with a league-leading 24 turnovers, one more than their total all of last season. But they had none on Sunday while New Orleans turned the ball over three times.

Roethlisberger, who had lost six of his first seven starts this season, passed for 264 yards and three touchdowns.

The Steelers played most of the last three quarters without Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu and starting cornerback Deshea Townsend, who each suffered concussions.

Brees took advantage, passing for a career-high 398 yards and rookie Marques Colston caught 10 passes for 169 yards.

Rookie Reggie Bush scored on an electrifying 15-yard run on a double reverse, leaping over Clark to reach the end zone with 2:22 left in the second quarter. It gave the Saints a 17-14 lead.

"When I got close to the goal line, I was going to make the play," said Bush, who previously scored his first touchdown on a punt return in an October 8 game against Tampa Bay.

However, Bush also fumbled after being hit by linebacker Larry Foote and Clark recovered for the Steelers and returned it five yards to the New Orleans 38.

"It was a good hit and bad ball protection by me," Bush said. "That was the story of the day. Not protecting the ball and turning it over."

On the next play, Roethlisberger lofted a 38-yard touchdown to Cedrick Wilson, tying the game, 24-24, with 6:55 left in the third quarter.

Parker took over from there, breaking off his two long runs that set up his own touchdowns.

"Parker made some great runs, cut back against the grain," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "He's a good back. But it was frustrating for us."

Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward on a 37-yard touchdown just 3:04 into the game.

The Steelers then forced a turnover. Tight end Billy Miller caught a four-yard pass but fumbled after being hit by linebacker James Farrior. Defensive end Brett Keisel recovered the fumble at the New Orleans 32.

"We were gang-tackling today," Keisel said. "Everyone was running to the ball like our defense is supposed to do. It wasn't a dominating type of game but you get those turnovers and you get that momentum back."

Keisel's fumble recovery led to a two-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Heath Miller with 6:49 left in the first quarter.

The Saints responded with a 12-play, 52-yard drive which resulted in a three-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Copper, who started for injured Joe Horn, with 43 seconds remaining in the quarter.

John Carney kicked a 20-yard field goal with 8:22 left in the second quarter to pull the Saints within 14-10.

McAllister scored on a four-yard run with 20 seconds remaining in the half, a minute after Jeff Reed kicked a 32-yard field goal for the Steelers. Center Jeff Faine bounced the snap to McAllister, who ran for the touchdown while Brees barely moved.

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