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Malone Runs to Set Up Key Scores for Steelers

<i> From Times Wire Services </i>

Pittsburgh’s Mark Malone, who entered the game as the NFL’s lowest-rated quarterback and did nothing to improve that standing, used his legs to help the Steelers defeat the Houston Oilers, 22-16, in overtime Sunday.

Malone set up a field goal with a 45-yard run on a bootleg and then gained 11 yards on another bootleg to set up Walter Abercrombie’s game-winning, three-yard touchdown run 2:35 into overtime.

“We had some big plays from throwing the ball, but our running game made the difference,” said Malone, who completed just 10 of 31 passes for 161 yards, 1 touchdown and his ninth interception this season.

The winning score followed a 41-yard punt return by Rick Woods to the Houston 15. Malone, who prior to Sunday had completed only 42.3% of his passes for the NFL’s worst offense, ran for 11 yards to the Houston three-yard line on second down. Abercrombie scored on the next play over the right side.

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Houston won the coin flip in overtime but punted after Warren Moon threw two incomplete passes following a one-yard run by Mike Rozier.

“We were in trouble because we were deep in our own territory,” said Houston Coach Jerry Glanville, whose defense was rated No. 1 in the NFL. “We wanted to keep it out of trouble and nudge it to the 35 and then open it up.”

The game featured a kicking duel between Gary Anderson of Pittsburgh and Tony Zendejas of Houston, each of whom converted three field goals in a game that left both AFC Central teams at 1-3.

Zendejas’ 45-yard field goal with 45 seconds to play forced overtime. Moon engineered the tying drive with six straight completions that moved the Oilers from their 23 to the Pittsburgh six. Three straight Moon incomplete passes forced Houston to settle for Zendejas’ kick.

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Anderson made up for his first missed field goal ever in the Astrodome by hitting on three kicks, the last a 28-yarder that gave Pittsburgh a 16-13 lead with 2:33 remaining. The kick was set up by Malone’s 45-yard bootleg.

Anderson, who was 10 for 10 in the Astrodome going into the game, also converted from 42 and 45 yards. He missed a 36-yarder but kicked an extra point to extend his current NFL-leading streak to 124.

Malone threw to former USC receiver Calvin Sweeney 4 times for 88 yards and a 19-yard touchdown.

Moon was 22 of 42 for 237 yards with one interception and a touchdown. He was sacked 6 times for a minus 37 yards. Moon was sacked seven times the previous Sunday.

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