From the notebook of a fan who cannot for the life of him figure out who was wearing No. 34 for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night, I know for a fact it wasn't the same person who was wearing the number during the preseason and training camp. It just can't be.
When Carey Davis's face popped up during NBC's run-through of the offense's starting lineup. Not only is he back on the team, a truly delightful return, it also means the Steelers started a fullback. A true breakthrough in Bruce Arians' offensive plan.
Mewelde Moore's touchdown pass to Heath Miller was the play of the game on so many levels. It showed Heath Miller as an increasingly targeted player. It put the game out of reach for the Chargers (or so everyone thought). It was a brilliant throwback to the Jerome Bettis throws of years past. And it was a sign that Arians is finally willing to be creative.
Steelers' time of possession: 40:20; Chargers' time of possession: 19:40.
Now normally I don't put much stock in time of possession. A team who scored very quickly could have a very low TOP and still dominate a game. The reason this statistic is important is because it shows the Steelers finally gave a significant performance in the run game. TOP is generally a reflection on which team was more physical. For the first time all year, it was the Steelers.
- Where did Rashard Mendenhall come from? What caused the change?
- The best answer for the change is the brilliant coaching of Mike Tomlin. He benched Mendenhall last week and I'm sure he gave him a good chewing out in-house. If it was a kick in the butt from Tomlin, he deserves the Coach of the Year award just for turning Mendenhall around.
- All summer I watched Mendenhall in preseason and in training camp, and not once did he show any signs of what he showed Sunday night.
- Mendenhall was clearly the biggest story of the game, but plenty of other players had great games as well.
- The one Cris Collinsworth couldn't seem to get over, and with good reason might I add, was Chris Kemoeatu. If any Steelers fans still miss Alan Faneca, STOP NOW! Kemoeatu can officially pull with the same athleticism, intelligence and power.
- The entire offensive line had their best performance since the retirement of Jeff Hartings at the end of the 2005 season. If this is a trend, the offense will be one of the best in the league.
- Ben Roethlisberger is really good. Those who have criticized his statistics take note; Big Ben is third in the league in passing yards and leads the league in completion percentage. When a passer completes 73.2 percent of his passes, he's a great quarterback.
- James Harrison has been relatively quiet this season. But after last night, "Silverback" is tied for the league lead in forced fumbles. He's still a force.
- Other defenders who played well for most of the game include Ike Taylor and William Gay, both of whom did a relatively good job shutting down a potent Chargers passing game for the first three quarters.
- What happens to the defense in the fourth quarter is beyond me. The only explanation is that Dick LeBeau was calling a different style of defense in an attempt to preserve a lead. Confusingly, I can't imagine that after decades in the NFL he hasn't figured out that changing a working defensive philosophy in order to protect a lead almost never works.
- The defense better figure out how to fix whatever isn't working. The team won't go very far if they don't.
- The most encouraging part of Sunday night's game for the Steelers is the five straight touchdowns. They've lost two out of four games this season because they had to settle for field goals. Look what happens when they get touchdowns instead. They win.