Hines Ward effortlessly leaps Champ Bailey for the Steelers' final touchdown. The brilliance of the play? He made the entire play while never losing the worlds widest smile. The score sealed the Pittsburgh victory, and seared another childlike grin in the memories of Hines Ward fans.
Rashard Mendenhall's twisting, juking, driving, 18-yard run on 1st-and-10 in the fourth quarter. Mendenhall continues to prove that he is a legitimate NFL starter. The play also showed a glimmer of hope that the Steelers can regain their unstoppable closing ability that they have lacked since the retirement of Jerome Bettis.
40.0 vs. 33.4; that is the average yards per punt totals for Daniel Sepulveda (PGH) and Mitch Berger (DEN) respectively. Sepulveda was drafted in the fourth round of the draft three years ago but was placed on IR last season.
His replacement was Mitch Berger who tried hard but did not perform well. The almost seven yards of field position difference between those two punters have a much bigger effect than meets the eye.
- If there is a point where raving about Hines Ward's effort, performance, and character gets old, I have trouble imagining what the point would be. He is a coaches dream and a fan's hero.
- Coming into the season the Steelers' receiving core was filled with questions. Some thought Santonio Holmes would replace Ward as the go-to-guy and most saw Limas Sweed becoming a stud. It's now apparent that Ward is still the main target and that Mike Wallace and not Sweed is the future stud.
- Speaking of future studs, Rashard Mendenhall will officially be placed in that category if he can just learn to hold on to the football. While he did have a recorded fumble against Denver, he still almost lost the ball on a goal line carry late in the game. Great backs don't fumble like that.
- One more thing on Rashard Mendenhall. He is a promising back but it would be really nice to see him lower his shoulder or cut to the middle when he gets to sidelines instead of just running out of bounds.
- Defensively the Steelers continued to dominate. They forced three interceptions and allowed only 27 rushing yards to a usually efficient Denver offense.
- When Aaron Smith placed on IR, a fear arose that Pittsburgh's run defense would begin to struggle specifically against the run. When his replacement Travis Kirschke became inactive for the Monday night, that worry grew.
- Brett Keisel and the rest of the defense silenced the doubters.
- Speaking of players who stepped up and made doubters forget about injuries, Keyaron Fox and Tyrone Carter made big plays and showed just how deep the Steelers' defense is.
- Fox has started two games this season. In the first game he tied for the second most tackles on the team. In his second start (this week) he tied for the team lead. The dude is a player.
- For the last three years the Steelers' offensive line has been the weakest link of the team. This season they are one of the better units in the NFL. Not only has the lines chemistry improved but individuals like Chris Kemoeatu and Willie Colon have greatly improved their play.
What I Think Steeler Fans Should Think
- Fans should begin believing in this football team. They are finally turning their potential into performance and look solid if not great in every aspect of the game.
- Fans need to give Bruce Arians some credit for finally figuring out how to call a good run game. Being an offensive coordinator is more than just calling a run at the run time, it's about calling the correct type of run. For the first time in his career Arians is calling the correct runs.
- Fans shouldn't give Bruce Arians too much credit as an offensive play caller as a whole. After three first quarter runs, Rashard Mendenhall had 14 yards rushing, which was an average of almost five yards per carry. That being said he consistently chose to pass the ball on second down.
- Fans should start buying Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace jerseys. These two are for real and well be solid players if not stars for the Steelers for many years. If you want the underdog jersey, however, take a chance on Keyaron Fox. He just might be replacing James Farrior at middle linebacker in a few years.