Like most avid Steelers fans, my mood during the week is dependent upon whether the Steelers win or lose, and to be frank, I was so disgusted with the game on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals that I wasn't even sure I could come up with anything that the Steelers did that was "Awesome".
But I have taken a day to breathe, to calm the impulse to scream for Bruce Arians' head, and to remember more clearly what I truly witnessed. The following few items are what I could come up with. Enjoy, and let me know if you think of anything, no matter how minuscule, that the Steelers did that was encouraging.
Awesome: Steelers normal uniforms. Finally. I'm tired of all the throw-back jerseys and have never been a fan of the Steelers' dark brown throwbacks. Steelers jerseys should be black and gold, period. So it was nice to see the team transformed back into 'normal' gear.
Not-So Awesome: The offensive line reminded me of Swiss cheese once again. And then they were shredded by the Bengal's defense. Shredded Swiss cheese...who has use for that?
Awesome: There were a few key defensive back pass deflections that occurred. William Gay had a couple in the first quarter that were particularly nice, and Ike Taylor had a great one in the red zone.
Not-so Awesome: Jeff Reed failing to even attempt to tackle the Bengal's Bernard Scott on his 96-yard kickoff return. Wasn't Jeff Reed, once upon a time, known for being more physical than other kickers? It's hard not to believe that all that tequila stripped him of his brain cells and of anything else resembling effort.
Awesome: I'm already scraping the bottom of the barrel for 'positives' that came out in the game. But I think we'll devote this one to potential. Specifically, to Mike Wallace's potential as a punt and kickoff returner. His only return of Sunday's game was for 26 yards—which, considering our special teams play at the moment, is not too shabby.
Not-So Awesome: Stefan Logan. Not his lack of yardage on returns nor his occasionally shaky ball protection, nor even his semi-muffed catch of a punt return on Sunday. But he's on this list today specifically for his decision to take a kickoff return out of the end zone after he muffed it!
He got, I believe , a bit past the 11-yard line. Wow. Color me merry. Had he knelt, as we all know, our offense would have started at 20-yard line instead. Logan's decision was not 'football smart,' and as we saw with the introduction of Wallace into the returning game, that the Coaches didn't think it was a smart move either.
Awesome: (think, think-think, think... there's got to be something...) Ryan Clark had a decent day with a few key stops on third downs, including one in the red zone that forced the Bengals to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown.
It was nice to see him flying around again, quietly getting the job done without having to worry about whether another portion of his anatomy would need to be removed. No interceptions by Clark, but I'll definitely take his solid play during such a defense-dependent game.
Not-So Awesome: There's a quote from Ben Roethlisberger saying that he felt 'weird' before and during the game—that something was off. Well, we could tell.
Normally with Roethlisberger, statistics don't tell the whole story, but on Sunday they sure did. A couple times he missed an open Santonio Holmes in the end zone and then overthrew the other receivers in the end zone whom he did throw to. Several of his passes were just off the mark, which, given what we know of his accuracy [see Super Bowl XLIII ], was quite perplexing.
Note: I am aware that Holmes missed another touchdown catch in the end zone, which could be why Roethlisberger declined to throw toward him. But it really all just comes down to the offense as a group being completely off the mark. It was like some weird twilight zone where our offense just kept bouncing off each other and into walls.
Or like they all placed their foreheads down on baseball bats, spun around the bats several times and then tried to walk in a straight line and predictably got nowhere, except on the ground or running into each other. Completely fruitless.
Awesome: As a Pro-Steelers' article this is not quite appropriate, but it must be acknowledged. Bengal's Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer is going through what I can only imagine is hell. His wife tragically and unexpectedly passed away five weeks ago, and yet his defense is rolling strong after years of being completely ineffective . That is truly amazing and inspiring.
Not-So Awesome: Troy Polamalu was re-injured. Our defense stayed fairly strong on Sunday, refusing to surrender a touchdown, but they still gave up four field goals, and the Bengals' offense remained on the field for a significant amount of time. Polamalu's absence was noticeable and, should he be out for any period of time, will definitely be noticeable in future games.
Awesome: Aaron Smith is one of the most underrated players of the game. Yet without him our defensive front is still stuffing the run. The Bengals' offense, which had the NFL's leading rusher, was held to just 61 yards rushing.
Our defense has now held the NFL's top rushers (Tennessee Titan's Chris Johnson, Minnesota Viking's Adrian Peterson, and the Cincinnati Bengal's Cedric Benson--twice ), each to under 100 yards rushing per game. That is definitely awesome.