Prior to the Steelers first game of the regular season, many people believed that the Steelers had little to no chance of even competing for a Wild Card birth in the AFC after the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season.
Regardless of who was replacing Roethlisberger, the Steelers would see a constant eight man front, with the opposing defenses forcing the Steelers to beat them through the air.
Even I stated that the only way the Steelers would be successful, would be to play defense as well as they did in 2008, when they were the top rated defense in the NFL.
The anti-Steelers talk centered around the aging defensive line, the weak secondary, and horrible special teams. With all of those factors, the offense would have to be better than what opposing defenses would allow.
Most believed that once Roethlisberger got back, the best the Steelers would be was 1-3, sitting in the basement of the AFC North.
In Week 1, against a team that many believed had the talent to go to the Super Bowl, the Steelers defense showed that they were more like the 2008 version than that of 2009, as they kept the Falcons from the end zone the entire game.
In overtime, the special teams had to kick off, and held the Falcons to poor field position.
After the Falcons were forced to punt, Rashard Mendenhall ran for a game winning 50- yard touchdown to give the Steelers their first win of the season.
The Titans were supposed to be another story. Vince Young was becoming a complete QB, while the Titans have the best running back in the NFL with Chris Johnson.
Johnson had a 12 game streak of rushing for over 100 yards, and stated that he was going to rush for over 2,500 yards in 2010.
The Titans defense was also supposed to dominate the Steelers, against the young, inexperienced Dennis Dixon.
Well, the Titans defense did a very respectable job against Dixon and the Steelers, holding them to 127 total yards. They constantly loaded the line with blitzes and stunts, keeping the Steelers offense from being anything but successful.
It is NOT the Titans defense that is going to be revered on Monday, as the Steelers defense put on a show that was one for the ages.
The Steelers forced a total of seven turnovers, dominating the Titans in every aspect of the game.
They pounded Vince Young, and made him look more like a rookie than a player that was going to have a realistic shot at earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. Young had two interceptions, one of which was in the end zone by Troy Polamalu. He also fumbled twice, forcing Jeff Fischer to bring Kerry Collins in to give the Titans a spark.
Collins did anything but, throwing an interception on his third pass attempt, (Which - a friend of mine I was watching the game with, Greg Lyttle said he would throw on his third attempt), and fumbled twice. He was also called for a 15-yard intentional grounding penalty as he ran backwards in fear of the blitzing Steelers defense.
Late in the game, the Titans faced a Steelers unit that was playing a VERY soft prevent defense, and picked it apart. Leading the Titans to their first touchdown, and the first against the Steelers this season, with just under a minute to play in the game.
After recovering an onside kick, the Titans were again trying to move the ball into the end zone, but the Steelers defense was just too much for the Titans to handle. Collins hit Chris Johnson for a short gain as time expired on the clock, giving the Steelers a 19-11 victory, and a 2-0 record.
The defense that reminds many of the Steel Curtain held Johnson to 34 yards on 16 carries, for an average of 2.1 ypc.
What I noticed the most though, is defenses are in fact loading the line of scrimmage forcing the Steelers to throw the ball. Once Ben Roethlisberger returns from suspension, it will change the entire complexity of the Steelers offense.
If teams play the Steelers WITH Roethlisberger the same way they play them WITHOUT him, Roethlisberger will have Peyton Manning type numbers.
But if the the Steelers defense plays as well as it did in the first two weeks of the regular season, then Pittsburgh may be playing in Dallas for their seventh Lombardi Trophy.
One a personal side note, I watched the Steelers game with the Original Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club. I have been a member of the Fan Club for almost 15 years, and they made me feel welcome in my first game back. Thanks to Gordon, Shirley and the rest of the group!
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