James Farrior’s 22 yard interception return of a Trent Edwards pass in the second quarter. The play was a sign that this defense is still the defensive monster it was last year. It also showed that Farrior hasn’t yet lost a step in his game.
Rashard Mendenhall’s TD run, not because of the score, or because of Mendenhall, but because it was the first time all preseason the starting offensive line looked NFL-worthy. Mendenhall ran in untouched.
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Mike Reilly who went 3-3 for 35 yards in his two drives in the fourth quarter. His throws were generally on target and to the open receiver. Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, and Dennis Dixon will be the QB’s who make the final cut but Reilly looks like he could be a valuable guy to have on the practice squad.
This was, in my opinion, the Steelers most impressive victory of the preseason. Even though the Bills were missing some of their starters, Pittsburgh looked polished, cohesive, and dominant.
The one unit that dominated for the first time, maybe in years, was the starting offensive line. They opened holes in the run game, and only gave up one sack in three quarters of play.
The improved performance was by no means random. It was due to the return of starting center Justin Hartwig. Steelers fans have been praying that the teams blocking would vastly improve once everyone was healthy and it looks like their prayers were answered.
While Ben Roethlisberger is certainly glad the o-line looks great, Rashard Mendenhall should be happier with their performance than any other player on the team.
Mendenhall put up some decent statistics in the game, including a rushing TD but I still have yet to see him show much ability. Perhaps he has some vision but he didn’t outrun anybody, didn’t out maneuver anybody, and didn’t break any tackles.
A starting running back in the NFL must have some quality that makes him special. Mendenhall doesn’t seem to have that special something.
Justin Vincent and Isaac Redman, although neither put up Mendenhall’s stats, have both shown more ability.
Both Vincent and Redman have the Jerome Bettis factor, a.k.a. always falling forward. Its one of the most underrated skills in a runner. Falling forward on runs can be the difference between third and three or third and six—a big difference in the NFL.
Big Ben, went 15-19 for 168 yards, leading Bruce Arians’ offense efficiently and effectively with a very average running attack. This might be the year that Ben proves he can carry this team on his own just like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
That being said all Pittsburgh fans should hope that Mike Tomlin doesn’t think the offense should change its focus. A physical, run first philosophy has won the Steelers two Super Bowls this decade and that formula should stay in place.
Two players that have shown they still have a place on this team are James Farrior and Hines Ward.
Both players are playing like 28-year-old studs rather than the declining seasoned vets they’re supposed to be. With these two team leaders playing at a Pro Bowl level the Steelers should be in good hands.
Depth at linebacker is also in good hands. Keyaron Fox is more and more impressive in every game. He was listed with only having one tackle against the Bills but he was involved in three of the first four special teams plays of the game and also lit up Justin Jenkins. What can’t Keyaron Fox do as an ILB?
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