Pittsburgh Steelers Week 3: The Current State of the Team
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Just a few thoughts on the Steelers current situation as we await this Sunday's matchup against the hated Baltimore Ravens.
Two words can best describe their situation right now: Mission Accomplished.
Just three weeks ago, this entire city was questioning how good, or maybe how bad this team might be by this point in the regular season. They were going to face a solid opponent poised for a breakout season, in the Atlanta Falcons. They then had to go on the road to Tennessee where they were 1-8 all-time and all of this was without their two-time Super Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
In the last preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, the supposed starter at quarterback, Byron Leftwich went down with a knee sprain. The last man standing was Dennis Dixon.
At that point it occurred to almost all of us that this team was suddenly staring a 1-3 or even an 0-4 start to the regular season, which is an automatic death sentence if you have any intentions of making the playoffs in January.
A 2-2 record was looking like a major victory for this team. Two games was their mission. Now, through the first three games without Roethlisberger, the Steelers are an extremely surprising 3-0. Yes, Mike Tomlin I said surprising.
If you had come to me three weeks ago and told me that they would be in this position I would've said you were nuts.
Arguably the main reason they are undefeated thus far is because of the stout play of the defense. They are sixth in the league in total defense (278.7 ypg) and have given up the fewest points per game (11 points).
They own sole possession of the top slot in takeaways with 10. They are also tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries (five) and are tied for third in interceptions (five). Those numbers help them to be tied for first in turnover margin with Atlanta (+6).
They are still just off pace of their 2008 counterpart, but this is still a championship-caliber defense nonetheless.
A huge factor in Sunday's win against Tampa Bay was the offense finally coming alive.
I haven't had too many moments of being proud of where I went to high school (it was Steel Valley in Homestead just as Charlie Batch did), but I was proud on Sunday. There has always been disagreement with the people in the Homestead/Munhall area about Batch's character, but that's another story for another day. He was forced to be the starter due to the Dixon knee injury and the Steelers situation wasn't looking any brighter.
All they needed to do move the ball enough to win. They went above and beyond. Batch threw three touchdowns en route to their 38-13 win. As I've mentioned before, you can nitpick his short throws on the Mike Wallace touchdowns all you want, but the point remains to be that they needed scores any way they could get them.
Now, here they are just days before a key divisional game against Baltimore. Honestly, this game isn't as big as it was three weeks ago. It's not many times you can say a game against the Ravens isn't that important, but this one isn't as of last Sunday.
Yes, I want them to win and take a stranglehold on the AFC North, but if you think about the entire situation they can afford to lose this game. Once Roethlisberger returns, the team will be in the best hands it can possibly be in for the remainder of the season.
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