The Eagles didn’t score a point until there was just 3:47 left, and it was a vastly different Steelers team on the field compared to the one we saw a week ago in Washington.
As with every game, there were certainly some good things, but there were certainly some negatives as well. Which brings us to our first installment of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” for the 2011 Steelers season.
Roethlisberger finished his day 8-of-12 for 125 yards, two touchdowns, and a 140.6 quarterback rating. There aren’t many quarterbacks who would consider that a bad game in a regular-season setting.
Roethlisberger began the first drive of the game 1-of-3, and it started looking as though the Steelers’ poor offensive showing from a week ago would continue in Week 2. After a 15-yard facemask penalty on a sack by Cullen Jenkins, Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense came alive.
Roethlisberger finished the first drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass over the shoulder of Antonio Brown, and the Steelers never looked back offensively.
On a night when starting offensive linemen were dropping like flies, Roethlisberger took the opportunity to remind the nation just how good he is. Roethlisberger looked in midseason form as he proved his ability to move in the pocket, creating plays with his feet and throwing with great accuracy as he did it.
The Steelers have been notoriously thin at receiver over the last several decades, but it’s certainly not the case any more.
In fact, the Steelers may find themselves in the position of having to cut several players at the position they really don’t want to part ways with.
Antonio Brown (29 yards/1TD) continues to improve as a weapon both in the passing game and in the return game as well.
Newcomer Jerricho Cotchery (49 yards rec) hooked up with Byron Leftwich for a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and he continues to build on a great first week of practice with a new team.
Veteran Hines Ward made his presence known with a touchdown dance straight out of “Dancing With The Stars,” as the newly crowned dance champion hauled in a 20-yard score of his own from Ben Roethlisberger.
*Special Note: Arnaz Battle continued to make his case for making the final 53-man roster as he pulled in three catches for 47 yards, and he continues to provide solid special-teams coverage as well.
To say the Steelers are thin along the offensive line would be like saying the Great Wall of China is a big fence.
When there are already concerns as to the projected first unit, an injury can make an already poor situation downright bad.
Jonathan Scott, the team’s “starting” left tackle, went down with a knee injury on the Steelers’ first offensive play from scrimmage.
Marcus Gilbert, the 2011 second-round pick, replaced Scott at left tackle and played extremely well, until he was also injured.
While the frailty of the Pittsburgh offensive line is a major concern, the greater concern comes from why these players are getting hurt. Both Scott and Gilbert’s injuries came from another lineman getting beaten badly and having the play pushed into them from behind.
While there is no official word on the injuries as of tonight, head coach Mike Tomlin said in his post-game press conference that both players had hyperextensions. The Steelers cannot afford to lose either tackle for an extended period of time.
After seeing Marcus Gilbert in his first action with the first-team offense there is room for optimism. Gilbert played very well after being thrown to the wolves, and if it is any sign of what he is going to bring to the table this season, the Steelers should find a way to draft a Florida offensive lineman in one of the first two rounds every season.
The backup kicker should feel lucky if the Steelers let him be the backup waterboy after his performance Monday night.
Waters went just 1-of-3 in field goal attempts, and he had another blocked by Eagles corner Asante Samuel as well.
While Waters had a nice tackle covering a kickoff, it was completely nullified by the fact that with the new kickoff rules in effect, he had no business needing to cover his kick in the first place.
Waters showed a weak leg in kickoffs, and he doesn’t look like an option even in an injury situation later in the season.
The Steelers still have some work to do before they break training camp, but overall it was a night to build on.
The team obviously responded to Mike Tomlin’s criticism after being handled by a Washington team that had no business manipulating them the way they did.
Both first-team units looked sharp for the Steelers, and showed vast improvements from a week ago. If the Steelers can continue to build on all the things they did well tonight, while cleaning up their special teams, and trying to keep their porous offensive line healthy, they look poised to perform come the regular season.
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