Tangled Up in Blue: Steelers Scrape Out Win Against Lions

Rob BusweilerContributor IOctober 12, 2009

DETROIT , MI - OCTOBER 11: Ryan Clark #25, Ryan Mundy #29 and Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers break up a pass in the end zone intended for Bryant Johnson #80 of the Detroit Lions on October 11, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Pittsburgh won the game 28-20.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Even without safety Troy Polamalu and running back Willie Parker on the field, expectations for the Steelers game against the Detroit Lions far exceeded what the final score showed.

A 28-20 victory over a Lions team led by Daunte Culpepper did not light the football world on fire, especially when there are still five undefeated teams looming around the league.

Even at 3-2, however, it is still not time for the Steelers to panic.

Working in their favor is the fact that the Steelers are playing in a division that does not have one of those undefeated squads sitting at the top of it. Even better, the team at the top of the standings, the Cincinnati Bengals, are not exactly the most stable division leader. Would anyone even raise an eyebrow if the Bengals floundered in the second half of the season?

A slower than expected start is not always a death knell for a team with high aspirations. One need only to look to last year's Steelers, a team that started 4-1, squeaking out close wins over the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The return of Polamalu will hopefully bring the rising tide that lifts all ships. Even without the all-world safety, the Steelers are 11th in the league in total team defense. They are 18th against the pass, however, a fault that may be fueling their fourth quarter woes.

If the game against the Lions showed us anything, it is that the Steelers are still a team that has not really proved much of anything. They are good at stopping the rush and good at moving the ball through the air. Elsewhere they are mediocre.

The only sure thing is the fact that their problems are not insurmountable. They play a Cleveland team this weekend that threw for a whooping 23 yards against Buffalo in week five.

The following week they match up against the Brett Favre led Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings will be coming off of what will likely be a physical game with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are just the team that has the ability to take some of the shine off of Favre's resurgent season, and hopefully the Steelers will be waiting to capitalize on the aftermath.