In a game that was far from perfect, the Pittsburgh Steelers came away from Heinz Field on Sunday with a much needed win.
Some of the same problems that we’ve seen each week were present: critical dropped pass, this time by Hines Ward; untimely turnover (Rashard Mendenhall’s fumble); mental breakdown (giving up a kick return for a touchdown, after Brett Keisel’s strip and Lamar Woodley’s scoop and run should have all but ended the game).
The Steelers needed a second spectacular play on defense by Keyaron Fox to finally put the game on ice.
The two spectacular defensive plays marked the first time all year that the defense stepped up and made a big play when they had to in the fourth quarter. The defense was solid all game, holding Adrian Peterson in check, until the fourth quarter, when he made a train wreck of William Gay.
Brett Favre, the crafty veteran that he is, looked to have his team poised to steel one (no pun intended) in Pittsburgh.
Dick LeBeau’s group was having none of it. Despite having a bye next Sunday, the Steelers D should be able to take the momentum of this game into the next two contests (against Denver and Cincinnati), games which will have a lot to do with defining the Steelers season.
A week after this writer called the Steelers an offensive team, two things happened: the defense stepped up (as previously mentioned) and Bruce Arians returned to his questionable play calling ways.
The Steeler offense, and Ben Roethlisberger, could never get into a rhythm.
The play calling returned to plain vanilla, with the exception of the three end-arounds.
There were no attempts to stretch the field—I thought at least one deep ball to Mike Wallace per game was a given by now. The two long pass plays, which accounted for 85 of Ben’s 175 yards passing, were of the catch and run variety.
The best drive of the game for the Steelers was when they were in the no-huddle just before half-time. Which begs the question: Why not use the no-huddle in the second half, when the offense was struggling?
Much credit has to go to a tough Viking defense. But this was a team that was 20th in the league against the pass.
The Steelers are yet to put together a complete game. But this game was their best from a defensive standpoint, and was the first time all year that they showed heart and determination in the fourth quarter.
A sign that they are indeed ready to repeat as Super Bowl champs. If only Bruce Arians play calling doesn’t trip them up.