What a difference a quarterback makes! Big Ben, seeing his first regular season action since January, came out and led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 28-10 victory over their rival Cleveland Browns.
This game wasn't exactly the blowout I expected, but hey, a win is a win. Offense, defense and special teams all made plays when they had to and it was enough to get the win.
Just how well did they do? Read on to find out.
Hines Ward after his touchdown catch.
Hines, you have every right to smile today. For the past four weeks, the Steelers have been ranked last in the league in passing with 136 yards per game.
Today, Ben came in and completed 16 of 27 passes for 257 yards, with three touchdowns to Ward, Wallace and Miller, and one interception.
To be fair, that interception wasn't Ben's fault. Yes, the throw was a little behind Mewelde Moore, but it sailed right past his head and through his hands.
On the positive side, the Steelers were 3-for-4 in the red zone and 7-for-14 on third downs. That's a significant improvement from the previous four weeks.
Better yet, Big Ben managed to go the whole game without being sacked. Of course, that was more of his physical strength than the offensive line, but my props to them as well.
Speaking of the offensive line, I thought they did a decent job in both run blocking and pass protection. With their help, the Steelers were able to accumulate 121 yards on the ground and 257 yards through the air for a total of 378 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall had a decent game with 27 rushes for 84 yards and one touchdown. Isaac Redman put in a nice game as well, with six rushes for 31 yards.
Mewelde Moore has now become a liability for the team. He let an imperfect but catchable pass sail right through his hands for an interception in the first quarter. He only had one rush for 1 yard.
If it were up to me, I'd cut him right now. Let Redman take over the third-down job and bring Jonathan Dwyer in to get him some carries. Moore has used up his welcome in the Steel City and it's time for him to go.
I could tell the wide receivers were happy to be finally getting some catches. Mike Wallace led the team with three catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Emmanuel Sanders saw some action in four receiver sets and hauled in two passes for 37 yards. I think both his catches converted long third downs.
Hines Ward pulled in five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Heath Miller caught two passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Overall, I give the offense an A-. Big Ben looked great in his first week back and didn't make too many mistakes. There were some plays left on the field, but overall, the offense put together a winning effort.
Previous weeks: D-/A+/D+
Season average: C+
Lawrence Timmons returns an interception in the fourth quarter.
To be honest with you, I expected the defense to get about eight sacks and force no less than four turnovers. However, I will accept five sacks, two interceptions and one fumble.
The defense came out on fire in the first quarter as they sacked McCoy twice and Ryan Clark picked him off.
In the second quarter, things started to get ugly as James Harrison knocked out Joshua Cribbs when he was running in the Wildcat. He later injured the Browns top receiver Mohammed Moassaquoi.
Somehow, I just knew that Cribbs was going to get hurt whether it was on special teams or in the Wildcat.
As the game wore on, the Steelers started to go into the dreaded prevent defense. As expected, the Browns started connecting on some nice pass plays and even managed to get a few good runs out of Hillis.
They managed to keep the Browns out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter when McCoy connected on 19-yard touchdown pass, after Lawrence Timmons left his man wide open.
Timmons would make up for it on the next drive as he picked off a deflected pass and nearly took it back to the house. He finished the day with 11 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
It sounds like Dick LeBeau got my message, as Troy Polamalu was playing closer to the line of scrimmage. As a result, Polamalu accumulated eight tackles and spent a great deal of time in the Browns backfield.
James Harrison had the best day out of all the defense with 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He was also a vital part in stopping Josh Cribbs and later knocking him out of the game.
Overall, the defense gets an A. They would have gotten an A+ had they not given up that late touchdown.
Previous weeks: A++/A-/B-
Season average: A-
Emmanuel Sanders got the start today, ahead of Antonio Brown, and returned kicks while Randle El returned punts.
Earlier in the week, Bruce Arians had said that Sanders was ahead in the receiving department while Brown was ahead in the special teams department.
His statement turned out to be true because while Sanders did well receiving, he didn't look so hot returning kicks. I'm not saying he did a bad job; it's just that he didn't gain as many yards as Brown usually does.
This is the second week in a row that Randle El has muffed a punt. He has been lucky to recover both so far, but sooner or later, one of those drops are going to cost the team dearly.
I say let Antonio Brown return punts. If he wants to be the future returner, he has to get some game practice sometime.
The main goal on special teams today was to make sure Joshua Cribbs didn't take one to the crib. Fortunately, that job was taken out of their hands due to James Harrison.
There were no big returns today and Jeff Reed managed to get another touchback. Due to the offense clicking so well, we didn't get a chance to see Reed kick any field goals, which was probably a good thing.
Overall, special teams gets an A-. Besides the muffed punt, the Steelers had two penalties in a row late in the fourth quarter on a punt. However on the third try, the Browns returner muffed the punt and the Steelers recovered deep in their own territory.
Previous weeks: A/A/D
Season average: B
Head coach Mike Tomlin has led the Steelers to a 4-1 record.
Going into this game, Steelers fans were expecting to see a nice mix of the run and the pass. Surprisingly, that's what we got.
Bruce Arians somehow resisted the temptation to air it and called a pretty much balanced game with 28 pass attempts and 35 rushing attempts.
Of course, this was Ben's first game back so it was natural for Ben not to air out. Now that he has a game under his belt and got his groove back, it's up to Arians to continue with the balanced playcalling.
Dick Lebeau let McCoy have it in the first half and as a result McCoy got sacked twice and threw an interception. When the second half rolled around, LeBeau decided to take his foot off the gas pedal and as a result, he made McCoy look like a veteran quarterback.
Why he feels the need to go prevent at the end of a game is beyond me. The prevent defense allowed the Browns to stay in the game way too long. The second stringers should have been playing by the fourth quarter.
Al Everest seems to have kept the coverage units in check during the bye as they didn't allow any big returns. Those kickoff lessons he gave Jeff Reed seem to be paying off as he has had a touchback in every game this year.
Mike Tomlin: Your team is 4-1, you have your star quarterback back and you have regained the lead in the AFC North. Anyone else think Tomlin deserves the Coach of the Year Award?
Overall, coaching gets a A++. The Steelers are one of the best, if not the best team in the league, and a lot of credit goes to the coaching staff.
Previous weeks: B+/A+/B
Season average: A
I don't know about you, but I was sure glad to see Big Ben play again. The best part is that he started off hot right out of the gate and never looked back.
Now that he has shaken the rust off, I expect the offense to be putting a lot more points for the rest of the season.
Unfortunately, this will be the Steelers last home game for about a month as the Steelers travel to Miami, New Orleans and Cincinnati in the next three weeks before returning home to face the New England Patriots.
I'm not worried. Big Ben is back, the defense is allowing only 12 points a game and special teams is controlling the field position. I fully expect the Steelers to continue their hot streak these next few weeks.
Who knows. The Steelers might go 15-1. With the way they're playing now, it's totally possible.