The main thing separating Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning was the Pittsburgh Steelers' rookie quarterback made his biggest plays with the game on the line. Roethlisberger threw for a...

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The main thing separating Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie quarterback made his biggest plays with the game on the line.

Roethlisberger threw for a season-high 316 yards and hit four straight passes to set up Jerome Bettis’ game-winning 1-yard run with 4:57 to go, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 33-30 win over the New York Giants.

“I am amazed, but he is an awesome quarterback,” receiver Antwaan Randle El said after Roethlisberger led the Steelers (13-1) to a team-record 12th straight win and handed the Giants (5-9) a seventh straight loss.

Roethlisberger, who has not lost in 25 straight college and pro starts, showed his poise in moving the Steelers from their 33 to the New York 8 after a Tiki Barber 1-yard run had given New York a 30-26 lead.

“He has been making good decisions with games on the line,” coach Bill Cowher said of the 11th pick in the NFL draft. “In the fourth quarter, he has a feel for the game and an understanding of the game and he manages it well.”

Falcons win thriller

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons, on the brink of clinching the No. 2 seed in the NFC, responded to the NFL’s ultimate comeback team with one of their own.

Michael Vick scored the tying touchdown on a 12-yard run with less than two minutes to go in regulation, then Jay Feely kicked a 38-yard field goal in overtime for a 34-31 victory over Carolina, snapping the Panthers’ five-game winning streak.

Carolina (6-8) got back into playoff contention after a 1-7 start, and the Panthers were as resilient as ever in this one, recovering from a pair of double-digit deficits.

The Panthers went ahead for the first time with a 21-point fourth quarter, only to have the Falcons (11-3) show they know a thing or two about bouncing back.

Dez White got the Falcons in position for the tying score with a dazzling 54-yard reception. Then on fourth-and-goal from the Carolina 12, Vick spotted an opening up the middle and took off for the end zone, diving across with 1:37 remaining.

Carolina won the coin toss in overtime, only to have Jake Delhomme overthrow Ricky Proehl down the middle. Aaron Beasley made the interception and returned it 30 yards to the Carolina 23 to set up Feely.

Washington drubs Niners

SAN FRANCISCO — Antonio Pierce found out just how easy it has become to beat the San Francisco 49ers: Stand in one place and allow their mistakes to find you.

The Washington linebacker got his first NFL touchdown on an interception thrown by Ken Dorsey, who hit Pierce between the numbers deep in Redskins territory with 48 seconds left in the first half.

Pierce returned it 78 yards for a score in a 26-16 victory. Dorsey had four interceptions.

“The crazy thing is, we could have had several more,” Pierce said.

“Yeah, we rattled Dorsey,” cornerback Fred Smoot said. “He saw us coming, coming and coming. When you have that many turnovers, it’s pretty evident that you’re rattling him.”

Patrick Ramsey passed for 214 yards and a touchdown, Clinton Portis rushed for 110 yards and Rod Gardner caught six passes for 111 yards — but the Redskins (5-9) were disappointed in their offense, which scored its only touchdown on the opening drive.

Newcomer Jeff Chandler kicked four field goals for the Redskins.


• Former Oakland Raiders coach Art Shell is interested in the Miami Dolphins’ job, possibly joining LSU coach Nick Saban as a candidate, an NFL source said. By interviewing Shell, the NFL’s senior vice president for football operations, Miami would comply with a league requirement that teams interview a minority candidate for any coaching vacancy.

• Cincinnati Bengals center Rich Braham was placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

• Cornerback Tyrone Poole is done for the season after the New England Patriots put him on injured reserve with a knee injury.

• Quarterback Marc Bulger will sit out the St. Louis Rams’ game today against the Arizona Cardinals, meaning former Husky Chris Chandler will start his second game in a row.