The Playmaker Awards - Big Play Game Savers in NFL Season Opener
With much anticipation, I sat down to watch the opening game and took in every play from the coin toss to the overtime field goal, I caught all of the action and listened intently to the color commentary.
I thoroughly enjoyed the close and exciting 13-10 OT Steelers victory on opening night. A few great plays made a huge difference in sealing the win for Pittsburgh. On offense, defense and special teams, many players and units stood out.
Some were given their accolades, others remained unsung heroes, some just showed up and did their jobs. The end result was a game filled with big plays in the air, exciting special teams action, and an overtime finish with the Steelers getting past one of their tougher opponents of the regular season.
There are a few players who deserve credit for one or more big plays that led to the win. This article is somewhat of an awards ceremony to give credit to those players who made the big plays.
The "Perfect Bookends" Award - Roethlisberger & Holmes
The season started just like last season ended. The first points of '09-'10 came on a Roethlisberger to Holmes TD pass. 7-0 Steelers.
The "I'm Hungry for a Quarterback Too" - Casey Hampton
The Big Snack was in on the attack.
He chased the Quarterback looking for a sack.
In the second half of the game, the Titans had no answer for the Steelers' pass rush, They might have blocked Harrison & Woodley on that play, but Hampton got through and forced Collins to pass out of bounds.
The "We Can Handle the 4 Man Rush" - Steelers O-Line
In the second half, Ben threw the ball down the Titans' throat. He had lots of time to get his reads and find his open man.
Kudos to the much maligned O-Line. The Titans stuck to their defensive plan to only rush with their 4 man front. The result ... The Steelers O-Line blocks while Ben takes all day to pass to whoever he wants.
The "We're Going to Halftime Tied" Award - Mewelde Moore, Heath Miller, Max Starks
Ben Gambled on 3rd & 23 with 1 second left on the clock and the score tied at 7.
Cortland Finnegan caught a tipped ball in the end zone and ran it back breaking tackles all the way back.
Mewelde Moore made first contact down at the 27 yard line, then Starks and Miller came in to bring Finnegan down ... and preserve the tie at halftime.
The "Stand Tall & Put Your hand in the Air" Award - Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith seldom gets the credit he deserves.
Field Goals from a certain distance are usually automatic, especially with an accurate guy like Bironas. Usually, we expect to give up the 3 points and move on to the kickoff.
Not Thursday Night. Aaron Smith, who usually works over the O-Linemen play after play while the linebackers get sacks, or force incomplete passes, stepped up, way up, and blocked a Field Goal.
He kept 3 points off the board in a 3 point victory. This award goes to him.
The "Inside Men" Award - James Farrior & Keyaron Fox
It was great work from the inside LBs, Farrior and Fox that proved to the Steelers that the great Larry Foote was expendable, and if Timmons goes down, the Defense doesn't miss a beat.
These two combined for 16 total tackles and Farrior got the lone sack.
While their teammates on the outside, Harrison & Woodley got more of the accolades, these guys were huge contributors to the victory.
The "Veterean Play from a Rookie" award - Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace proved he deserves the #4 receiver spot this season. On the opening drive of Overtime, he ran to the middle of the field, caught the ball in Field Goal range, and held on when he got tackled.
This guy has the speed to be a deep threat who can catch the ball and run away from everyone. He decided to put the team first, make the sure catch, and then watch Jeff Reed split the uprights for a victory