An attempt at an onside kick on the very first play Monday nigh simply defined how this game would play out.
Overall, both teams were pretty much equally matched. Two strong defenses against two of the most fast-paced and explosive offenses in the league meant this would be a hell of a game. It turned out to be a lot more one-sided than previously thought.
First off in my bag of goodies, the Steelers' D.
Let me just say....wow! What a great game these guys played! They allowed only 221 yards and 6 total points. To be honest, I have no critiques for this squad, they played an excelled, nearly mistake-free game which is all that any coach asks for. There was a beautiful goal-line stop, Clinton Portis ran for a mere 51 yards, and Jason Campbell was also held back quite a bit from what he's used to. The two picks and seven sacks rattled the previously perfect quarterback.
James Harrison impressed me once again in this game. He got 1.5 sacks and was all over the field. This guy is definitely one of the best linebackers in the league and has been since the beginning of the season last year. There's something about the Steelers and their ability to breed excellent linebackers.
While our defense had a solid game, our first half offense - once again - played too far below its expectations. An ailing Ben Roethlisberger maybe should have been sat out earlier than he was. Everybody was well aware that he was hurt. The quarterback position these days in Pittsburgh never fails to demonstrate talent. Starter, second or third stringers, they all look like they could start (some have) for another NFL team.
Byron Leftwich looked great against the fast D of the 'Skins and performed ten times greater than Ben did. I could never tell you why our O line looked better when he was in than Ben, but perhaps it was the fatigue of the defense. I simply think that Ben needed the rest. He has been getting pummeled by defenses for the past few weeks, and he finally reached a slight breaking point. The time that he spent on the sideline will help aid in his recovery and hopefully we'll see him once again in a week or two.
But enough of that, let's talk on a brighter note. Leftwich looked like a Pro Bowl quarterback out there leading the Steelers to two scoring drives and making it look so very easy. I have a lot of respect for this guy and I believe he is as reliable a backup as Batch. Byron threw for one touchdown and 129 yards with a 70% completion percentage.
Our offense as a whole seemed to progressively pull together as the game eased on. Willie P had 70 yards while Nate Washington and Mewelde Moore each had a good amount of receiving. Santonio Holmes started out very, very rusty and as the game proceeded he redeemed himself, especially with the beautiful diving touchdown. Let's hope that he stays out of trouble now...
The O-line also worked better as the game went on. It seemed that the offense just needed to feel things around a bit before they did too much.
Real quick before I wrap this up, I have one last thing in my bag of goodies.
First of all, what's up with that onside kick to start things off. I realize (and respect for that matter) that Tomlin wants to try new things, but come on we aren't playing the Lions here. I like risky things once we are sure of our opponent, but opening up the game like so was a bit too risky a bit too soon.
What about Jeff Reed's missed extra point. I dreamt of that after the game, it was that bad. How does one of the clutch-est kickers in the league do something like that!
One more thing before I sign out. Andre Frazier is amazing for that blocked punt. Did you see him bust through that line and just reach up. BOOM! Amazing, and thanks to that we were able to capitalize and create our first lead in the game. Say bye-bye to being on top of that one, 'Skins!
So, that's about it for this week's goodies. I'm pretty sure I've handed out most of them, and if not I'm sure they'll show up in next week's bag. Great D in this game, Steelers. Sloppy play in the beginning by the O, but they eventually brought themselves together and made it all worthwhile. All of a sudden I can see the Steelers back on top and possibly great contenders to beat the all-dominating Titans. Until that week comes along, let's remind Peyton of the playoffs just a few years ago. Auf Wiedersehen, comrades.
This is a new section I'm adding on every week just to hit you with a quick burst of information regarding players playing well, what new techniques could be used, etc.. First let me once again brag about Mewelde Moore. He has truly stepped up and made his presence felt on the team. Without him, we'd be quite a bit farther back than we are right now.
Santonio Holmes needs to decide if he enjoys a joint more than football. If it's the former more than the latter, then he should pack up his things and leave immediately. The Steelers are one of the classiest teams in the league, but with incidents that he's caused in the past two years, I'm not quite sure if he belongs (even though we do need him).
Troy Polamalu is playing at his best again. For the past year and a half I was getting afraid because he was playing almost as if his long locks had actually turned him into a little girl. Thank god that you're back, our old Troy.
Lastly, D backs, I'm so sorry that I dissed you earlier on. After reviewing how you've done this season, you really have made your presence felt. I'm very happy to see you finally playing at a great level.