3-0! 3-0! 3-0! Who would have thought this is where the Steelers would be after three weeks of football?
Well believe it people, because the Steelers stayed undefeated by knocking down the previously undefeated Bucs 38-13.
For the first two weeks the Steelers could barely muster anything on offense. Their only touchdown came against the Falcons in overtime.
Well today the Steelers torched the Bucs defense for a whopping four touchdowns, all of which came in the first half. How did they do it? They did it by connecting on two deep balls to Mike Wallace, one to Ward, and a touchdown plunge by Rashard Mendenhall.
A lot of the credit also has to go to the offensive line which opened holes for the running game all day and didn't allow a single sack. How often do we get to say that? They worked together as a cohesive unit, and the result was 201 yards rushing and 186 yards passing for a grand total of 387 yards.
The game ball should go to Charlie Batch. The wily old veteran showed, that he still has it, as he finished 12/17 for 186 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. He even showed some mobility as he had a big run for 24 yards.
Batch had a rough start—he got picked off on his first drive. After that, he never looked back, constantly leading the offense up and down the field.
Yes, he had two picks, but one of them shouldn't have happened. Bruce Arians, after running an estimated seven straight plays, decided to pass, and Batch threw it straight to the linebacker.
Besides his two little mishaps, Batch looked poised in the pocket, threw accurate passes, and revived a struggling offense. Ben who? Just kidding. I can't wait to see Batch next week against the Ravens.
What a breakout day Rashard Mendenhall had. Mendenhall ran up and around the Bucs defense for 143 yards and a touchdown.
We have been looking for this type of performance from him for a long time, and we finally got to see it.
Mendenhall faced eight and nine man fronts all day and eventually made the Bucs pay for it. Most of his biggest runs came off of said fronts. He bulled and spun his way out of tackles all day and kept the chains moving. Those runs came in handy in the second half when the Steelers ran the ball play after play to run the clock out.
I've been saying all season that Redman should get more touches. Today he did, and he made the most of them with 31 yards rushing including a long one of 16. If he was a bit faster, he could have taken it a lot farther.
Anyone who doubted whether Batch could still throw the long ball were silenced today as Mike Wallace had probably the best day of his career with two 40+ yard touchdowns and another catch for 100 yards.
Santonio who? Not kidding this time.
Hines Ward had a decent day with 3 catches for 34 yards and his first touchdown of the year.
Everybody, don't forget this date. It was the first time the Steelers ran the Wildcat. They ran two plays with Randle El at quarterback.
The first play resulted in a 1-yard loss on a reverse to Wallace. The second resulted in a nice run from Mendenhall. Looks like we'll be seeing plays like this throughout the season, so keep your eyes on who's under center.
Overall, the offense gets an A+. They were clicking on all cylinders today and simply played Steelers football by running it straight down the Bucs' throats. They were 2/3 in the red zone and 4/9 on third downs. That's significant improvement from the past two weeks.
The score could have been 49-6, but after the running game showed no signs of being stopped, Arians decides to pass on consecutive drives in the second half. The first was incomplete and the second was picked off. Besides that, the offense looks good going into week 4.
Previous weeks D-
Season average C+
Was it just me or did the defense seem vulnerable today? I know they had four sacks and two turnovers, but something was missing today.
The Bucs offense was on the field too long—they had over 30 minutes of possession time.
After forcing consecutive three-and-outs in the first quarter, the defense let the Bucs drive deep from their own end to about the 5-yard line before making them kick a field goal.
The Steelers gave up a season high 75 rushing yards after giving up less than 55 for the past two games. That was the major reason why the Bucs were still in the game after the first quarter. This can be accredited to a lot of missed tackles and a failure to wrap up the running back.
The good news is the Steelers were able to harass Josh Freeman all day as the Bucs were falling further behind and had to all but abandon the run.
Troy Polamalu had another fantastic day with four tackles and was hitting harder than I've seen in awhile. He even had another interception, but it was when he was on the sideline after LeBeau decided to rest the starters for the rest of the game. I guess he couldn't help himself.
Lawrence Timmons had an excellent day with seven tackles, a pass defensed, and his first sack of the season.
William Gay had his best game in a year which included a sack and some very nice tackles that prevented two or three first downs. Boy am I glad we didn't get rid of him.
B-Mac gave another strong performance with four tackles and knocked away several others.
Ziggy Hood almost had an interception today when he tipped a screen pass in the air and almost came down with it.
However, Brett Keisel managed to pick off another tipped screen pass and took it back for a 79-yard touchdown. Remind you of anything? Keisel showed amazing hustle as he got back down the field a lot faster than I expected.
The second and third stringers got some action on the last two drives of the day. Jason Worilds got his first sack, and Larry Foote and McFadden combined to tackle the runner on three consecutive plays in the exact same spot in then middle of the field. Why Lebeau didn't drop someone in that spot is beyond me.
They played mainly in a prevent defense, and in the end it resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by the Bucs. Besides the touchdown, they didn't look too bad considering they weren't blitzing much.
Overall the defense gets an A-. Yes, they left some plays on the field, but they bent yet never broke.
They may have allowed a lot of yards, but they made stops when they absolutely had to. At least they didn't blow the lead.
Previous weeks A++
Season average A
Special teams had another special day as they had no major breaks in coverage and even had some decent yardage on returns. At the end of the day, they didn't make or break us.
Daniel Sepulveda had a monster punt of 62 yards that pinned the Bucs deep in their own territory. Jeff Reed didn't have to do much today. He made all of his extra point attempts and made his only field goal attempt.
Overall special teams gets an A. Like I said, they didn't make or break us—they simply did their jobs.
Previous Weeks A
Season average A
Bruce Arians did a much better job with play-calling today. His only mishaps in my eyes was when he was running the ball play after play and all of a sudden decided to pass. The run was working, so why he decided to go with a pass, I have no idea.
Dick Lebeau called another great game, but I think he should have used more inside pressure instead of outside pressure. Freeman was constantly able to step up in the pocket or scramble to make plays. More inside pressure probably would have prevented this.
Al Everest seems to have glued this special teams unit together. I no longer have to hold my breath on returns anymore.
Mike Tomlin had a great game plan coming into this game, and it was executed nearly to perfection. He's doing a spectacular job of coaching this team right now, and our record reflects that.
Overall coaching gets an A+. The Steelers won in a blowout, and it all comes down to good coaching.
Previous weeks B+
Season Average A
Everyone thought this was going to be a close game. I was one of the few people who thought it was going to be a blowout.
Turns out I was right. I just had a great feeling that the offense was going to start clicking against the Bucs.
The Steelers were rolling so well that the Bucs fans started leaving around halftime. By the fourth quarter, Raymond Jones Stadium might as well have been Heinz Field as Steelers fans vastly outnumbered Bucs fans at this point.
The Steelers are only one of two teams that are 3-0. This makes it the second time in four years that Mike Tomlin has gotten his team off to a 3-0 start.
Now we can officially concentrate on the Baltimore Ravens. They are the only team standing in our way of going undefeated without Big Ben. They are 2-1 after coming off a close 24-17 victory today against the Browns.
This means that if we want to keep the lead in the division, we must beat the Ravens next week in Pittsburgh. After that, it's the bye week when Ben is finally allowed to come back. Expect to see more games like this once he returns.
Overall Grade A
Previous weeks B+
Season Average A-