Pittsburgh Steelers: And the Game Ball Goes To...
I remember the first time I was the head coach of a Pop Warner football team. Each week that the team won, the coaches would get together and decide which player was most worthy of the consideration of the best player of that day.
In the NFL, there are a lot more balls used in each game, so there is more than one game ball to give away.
Though this list will not simply be the players that had the best stats, it will be for the players that had the greatest impact on the game.
So, without further ado, the game balls go to...
Without question, the Steelers offensive line in 2011 has been nothing short of a joke. Teams have simply rushed more than four players, and they pressured Ben Roethlisberger into leading the league in turnovers.
On top of that, the Steelers have not been able to throw due to the pressure, and have not been able to sustain any type of run game.
No, no one is going to mistake Max Starks for a Pro Bowl player, but Starks showed Sunday that he was truly worth the Steelers bringing him back.
Is he the long term solution to the Steelers offensive line issues? Probably not, but against the Titans, Starks was the best lineman on the field, with the exception of Maurkice Pouncey.
With a record five touchdowns and only one interception (that may not have even been his fault), Ben Roethlisberger played against the Titans like he was one of the best players in the NFL.
With a sprained foot, Roethlisberger was not able to run around like he normally does. But, he was able to make quick reads and get the ball out of his hands without spending half the day picking himself up off the ground.
With the Steelers leading 14-3 and facing 4th and 5 from mid-field with 11:51 left in the second quarter, Mike Tomlin called a fake punt that worked to perfection.
Sepulveda took the snap and threw a strike to back up safety Ryan Mundy, who took the ball 32 yards for a first down and set up the Steelers third touchdown of the game.
For making the reception on the fake punt, Ryan Mundy also gets a game ball.
Though he should have caught the ball, it did hit him in the hands, Mundy is a defensive back, and let's be honest, Steelers defensive backs have not caught a lot of passes in the last couple years.
I believe it was late in the third quarter of the game that Dan Dierdorf stated that Ike Taylor's name had not even been called all day.
When it comes to a defensive back, that is good news.
Taylor shut down whoever he was covering all day, not allowing anyone to have a reception he guarded.
The Titans were held to a field goal, and the Steelers stole the momentum.
Polamalu was all over the field today. He ended the game with nine tackles and three passes defensed.
His real contribution was in supporting the run game, as he seemed to know the play Matt Hasselbeck was running better than the rest of the Titans.
Woodley had 1.5 sacks, three tackles and two QB hits.
None of those would be good enough for a game ball.
Late in the third quarter, after the Titans recovered an onside kick, Woodley would intercept a pass that was tipped by Brett Keisel for the Steelers first interception of the season.
The reason this was such a big deal was not only because it was the Steelers first interception of the year, but after recovering the onside kick, the Titans could have stolen the momentum back and brought the score within 11.
When the Steelers selected Jonathan Dwyer in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, he has been nothing more than a project.
With starter Rashard Mendenhall nursing a sore hamstring and Mewelde Moore also injured, the Steelers had no choice but to use Dwyer against the Titans.
On Dwyer's first carry of the game from the Steelers' 10-yard line, Dwyer broke free for a 76-yard run to the Titans' 14 yard line.
This set up the Steelers for their third touchdown on the day.
Dwyer would go on to have 107 yards on 11 carries.
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