I feared the worst for Steeler country on Sunday night.
Even worse, Big Ben was injured, and they had to rely on a youngster that had thrown only one NFL pass prior to Sunday, to lead their offense.
But as inexperienced as he may have been, Dennis Dixon did a pretty good imitation of Ben Roethlisberger.
He showed a pretty strong arm on a 33-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, and even ran one in himself, giving Pittsburgh a brief lead in the fourth quarter.
However, Dixon's potentially magical night came to a screeching halt, as rookie linebacker Paul Kruger intercepted him in overtime, propelling the Ravens to victory six plays later on a Billy Cundiff field goal.
Even without their leader, the Steelers showed punch.
Now, with five games left, it is crunch time for the defending champs.
It doesn't look easy, with games against the Packers and Giants looming, but with a top-ranked defense and a never-say-die attitude, the Steelers can, and probably will, make a push to defend their crown.
Elsewhere in the NFL this week:
- Speaking of the Ravens, I went to see The Blind Side this weekend. It's pretty good, if you're willing to overlook the typical sports movie cliches and the fact that they made Michel Oher look stupid for half the movie. At the very least it was an engaging story and Sandra Bullock was fabulous.
- The Jets proved to be resilient in surviving a Mark Sanchez injury scare and getting a lucky bounce on a pick by Darrelle Revis to beat the Panthers.
- Ho hum, another fourth quarter rally by the Colts orchestrated by Peyton Manning while the Texans put a dent in their playoff hopes.
- I know it may not be because of him directly, but I do think that Vince Young deserves some credit for comeback player of the year since he inherited an 0-6 football team from Kerry Collins and has rolled off five wins in a row.
- I think the Bears relied too much on a soft-zone defense to bottle up Adrian Peterson. That allowed Brett Favre to torch them down the field with long passes. Hey Lovie Smith, didn't you hear? Brett Favre may be 40, but he's playing like he's 25.
- What were the odds that the Bengals would run the table in the NFC North, and Larry Johnson would find redemption, even a month ago?
- Turnovers always kill, especially against a good defense. Kansas City found that out the hard way in their loss to the Chargers.
- Credit the Bills for finishing strong in scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins. But I have to wonder, did Dick Jauron hold TO back? He seems to have found his groove.
- I know they beat the Rams, but the Seahawks have a right to be thankful for their first road win of the season.
- Another team that should be thankful is the Falcons. Matt Ryan and Michael Turner both went down with injuries and they still kept their season alive because they were playing the woeful Bucs.
- A year ago, the Eagles were ready to ship Donovan McNabb out of town. Now, they're singing his praises as a leader as his vocal support helped spark a rally against the Redskins.
- The Broncos out-gained the Giants in the first half 213-38. They had a statement to make and they made it against the Giants.
- How bout them Cowboys? The good news is their offense dominated the Raiders and they are still atop the NFC East. The bad news is that December has not been kind to them, especially in the Wade Phillips era.
- The Lions have now lost six in a row on turkey day. Leave it to the NFL to showcase a perennial turkey on Thanksgiving day.
- Everyone says Drew Brees was the hero of the Saints win over the Patriots. Not this boy. Mike McKenzie was the true hero to me because his first-half pick of Tom Brady killed any Patriot momentum, and he broke a potential touchdown pass to Randy Moss that could have put the Patriots behind by only a touchdown in the third quarter. That my friends was a game-breaking performance.
- I'll talk to you next week, Have a good one.