Pitt in the NFL: Stephens-Howling scores game-winning touchdown

By Greg Trietley

The 13th week of the NFL season saw a Pitt alumnus on the Arizona Cardinals team sprint and juke… The 13th week of the NFL season saw a Pitt alumnus on the Arizona Cardinals team sprint and juke his way to the end zone for a game-winning touchdown in overtime — and it wasn’t who you think.

LaRod Stephens-Howling (Pitt running back, 2005-2008) took Kevin Kolb’s short pass 52 yards to the house, and his Cardinals knocked off the Dallas Cowboys in overtime, 19-13.

“It was supposed to be a screen, but the linemen couldn’t get out because the D-line was pressuring us,” Stephens-Howling said after the win. “I saw the end zone when I turned around. I knew I had to go, and we had a lot of guys downfield helping me.”

It was his only catch of the day, but for one week, Stephens-Howling outshined Larry Fitzgerald (Pitt wide receiver, 2002-2003). Fitzgerald had four catches for 55 yards and was held without a touchdown for the first time in four games.

Tyler Palko (Pitt quarterback, 2002-2006) earned his first career win Sunday when his Kansas City Chiefs beat the Chicago Bears 10-3 at Soldier Field. Head coach Todd Haley benched Palko at the start of the second quarter in favor of Kyle Orton — claimed off waivers two weeks ago from Denver — but Orton hurt his hand on his first passing attempt and did not return.

Palko re-entered the game and finished with 157 yards and his first NFL touchdown, which came on a Hail Mary pass to Dexter McCluster at the end of the first half.

“I really thought Tyler did a great job today,” Orton told the Associated Press after the game. “He’s been through a lot. It’s great to see a guy get his chance and take advantage of it.”

In the game, the Bears defense held Kansas City’s Jonathan Baldwin (Pitt wide receiver, 2008-2010) to a season-low 7 yards on one reception.

Dom DeCicco (Pitt defensive back, 2007-2010) made two tackles at linebacker for Chicago in the loss.

LeSean McCoy (Pitt running back, 2007-2008) had 84 yards on the ground, 49 yards through the air and a touchdown each way, but his Eagles fell to the Seahawks Thursday 31-14. McCoy’s 1-yard score in the second quarter extended Pitt’s streak of having a former player score an NFL touchdown to 14 weeks, the longest active streak for any college.

McCoy’s teammate Dion Lewis (Pitt running back, 2009-2010) returned four kicks for 92 yards, but he had no carries and no catches for the second straight week.

Darrelle Revis (Pitt cornerback, 2004-2006) made four tackles in New York’s 34-19 win at Washington Sunday. Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman finished just 19-for-46 against the Jets secondary.

Jabaal Sheard (Pitt defensive end, 2007-2010) strip-sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in Cleveland’s 24-10 loss to Baltimore Sunday. Sheard finished with a career-high nine tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defended. Despite his efforts, Ravens running back Ray Rice, who called Sheard a “great player,” still rushed for 204 yards against the Cleveland defense.

“I guess we need to play harder up front. I missed a few tackles up front,” Sheard said in the postgame press conference. “We knew they were going to run the ball, and you just have to do a better job up front.”

The forced fumble — Sheard’s fifth this year — is the most any Brown has had in a season since the franchise’s reincarnation in 1999. He also leads the team with 5.5 sacks total.

The New Orleans Saints placed Greg Romeus (Pitt defensive end, 2007-2010) on injured reserve last Wednesday. Romeus is still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered as a Panther last season.

Andy Lee (Pitt punter, 2000-2003) boomed a 61-yard punt and pinned the Rams inside the 20-yard line three times in San Francisco’s 26-0 demolition of St. Louis. Lee leads the league with a 43.3-yard net punting average.

Aaron Berry (Pitt defensive back, 2006-2009) had seven tackles in Detroit’s 31-17 loss at New Orleans. Drew Brees threw for 342 yards against the Lions, which have lost three of their last four games.