Again, I feel like I am being an apologist for a team that has just won a game!
But first let’s get the mundane out of the way: Steve Johnson should be thanking Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark for being so very wide open, and then perhaps wondering if God was paying attention to him. Maybe he rates higher than previously thought in the hierarchy of things and is in the wrong vocation.
Secondly, the Bills (I know you have heard this before) are better than their record indicates…as is Steve Johnson, who was having a breakout season before Sunday!
Perhaps the fear is that this is a recurring nightmare. Buffalo overcame a 13-point first half deficit OR the Steelers surrendered a 13-point first half lead (see, it all depends on if you are a cup half full person).
Let’s see, Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 23 of 45 for 265 yards, but he was sacked (only) twice. Besides the infamous drop in overtime (which by the way…no one is asking how Steve Johnson got so wide open coming clear behind Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark?) Mr. Johnson dropped at least three other passes. Good defense or beneficent benefactor?
Fred Jackson had five catches for 105 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown, and oh yeah he added 59 yards rushing!
The Steelers were once again penalized in what one might call an excessive amount. Steelers were penalized 10 times for 107 yards, including five offensive holding penalties and yes Santa, one penalty for Mr. Harrison for roughing the passer.
It would seem this has become the mandatory penalty a flag for Harrison for playing the game of football. Well, I don’t believe in Santa anymore but I do believe that James Harrison is being targeted for playing the game of football.
So bring on the Ravens—really? Is that what we want? A team that we can no longer say…I know you have heard this before…because their record actually proves they are a good team. The Ravens’ record is 8-3, identical to the Steelers' record, BUT since they beat the Steelers at Heinz Field in the first meeting they are on top of the division.
During the first meeting the Ravens beat the Steelers 17-14. The Ravens scored 10 in the second quarter (McGahee nine-yard touchdown run and Cundiff field goal) and seven in the fourth quarter (on a Houshmandzadeh 18-yard touchdown pass). Joe Flacco had 256 yards passing with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Willis McGahee had 39 yards rushing with 1 touchdown, and Ray Rice had 20 yards rushing.
Nothing mind-alteringly disturbing; in fact the Steelers were only penalized 11 times for 88 yards! But that was then and this is now.
The defense cannot allow a lead to fade during the second half of the game. Any game with the Ravens will be a slugfest and a wilting second half defense will be destination battle for the wild card for the Steelers. This is the true test for the Steelers defense.
While we have watched, Baltimore’s offense is getting better. It’s plethora of wide receivers: Mason, Houshmandzadeh and Bouldin are capable of the long ball or the short passes that torched us against the Patriots. The running game, with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, is formidable even for a defense that is stingy against the run.
The Steelers defense is good. Now we just need them to be great. Again!