Tuesday, November 10, 2009
We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident...
Some things change and some things remain the same. Let's take a look at last night's stellar victory over the media darling Broncos and see what has changed and what has stayed the same.
The "All Men are Created Equal" Things that have stayed the same:
1) The Steelers continue to dominate in prime time games, especially Monday Night Games.
-Overall the Steelers are 35-22 on Monday Night Football, but starting with Bill Cowher and continuing with Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 21-8 on MNF and under Tomlin they are 5-0.
2) Troy Polamalu, when healthy is the best safety in football and the most exciting player to watch.
-In consecutive plays last night, Troy showed everyone what he is all about. The first play, Troy perfectly times the snap count, shoots into the backfield and stuffs the Denver runner for a loss untouched. The next play is an interception that sets up the Steelers for a TD that puts the game away. I am glad he is back and healthy. The D is totally different with Troy in the game.
3) Santonio shows up in a big way in a primetime game.
-Once again, 'Tone saves his best games for the biggest stage. He made a ton of tough catches last night in traffic. He continues to excel at gaining yards after the catch.
4) Hines makes big plays in big games.
-His first TD catch was huge but so were a couple of his drive sustaining first down grabs. His hurdling of Champ Bailey to ice the game at the end was nothing short of awesome.
5) Ben has another high efficiency game. The media acts like this is the first time they saw him play, still holding onto the ball too long.
-20 for 28 for 230 yards and 3 touches, 1 pick. Ben seems to be in complete control of the offense. He had us moving easily downfield in the no huddle before he threw a pretty awful pick in the redzone. The 2 sacks were both his fault. The line gave him plenty of time to throw. Extending plays also resulted in the TD to Mike Wallace.
6) The Steelers coaches and Ben trust Mike Wallace.
-Wallace should be in contention for Rookie of the Year. He had another solid game with 4 catches,1 for a TD. He also had a great catch on a low thrown ball for a first down.
7) The defense made all the big plays when they mattered.
-Carter with two picks, one for a touch. Troy with a huge pick. Keisel with two sacks.
8) The Steelers get knocked down, but continually get off the mat.
-The Steez were driving down the field easily on their first possession in the second half before Ben got strip sacked and the Broncos returned the fumble for a touchdown. How do the Steelers respond? With a 2 minute, 80 yard touchdown drive with a 25+ yard run by Rashard, and a 35 yard pass to Santonio. Great response. Tomlin has created a great attitude with this team.
-This is emphasized by the fact that the Steelers have given up a return TD (int, fumble or kick) in, according to Josh, six straight games. Return TD's are momentum shifting events that normally turn the tides of games. In 5 of the 6 games that a return TD has occurred, the Steelers have shaken it off and bounced back to win. Call it a silver lining.
9) The team is very tight.
-did you see how supportive Ryan Clark was of Ty Carter? Clark was the first one out there to congratulate Carter on both of his picks.
10) Steeler fans travel like no other teams in the league.
-From being at the game last night, I can attest to the fact that their is no other fan base like Steeler's Nation. The black and gold was everywhere. Seemingly every tailgate had a mix of Broncos and Steeler fans. Even an accident we passed on the freeway heading to the game was between Steeler and Broncos supporters. It was just as loud when the Broncos had the ball as it was when the Steelers had the ball. After the game was out of reach and all the Bronco fans had exited early, you could really see just how many Steez fans there were as the towel waiving maniacs stayed till the very end to cheer on their squad. The people sitting next to us had driven to Denver from Alberta, Canada to see the Steelers. That's dedication.
-The tickets we got were from friends of a friend in Dallas, TX, who happened to be Steeler fans who could not make it to the game. They were so excited that the tickets were going to other Steeler fans, they sent us a note along with the tickets and a Terrible Towel. The note said, "So glad you are a Steelers fan. Please use this Terrible Towel (it has been to Heinz Field) for me! Here We Go Steelers Here We Go." Amazing. You will be seeing the towel soon when I post pics from the game.
The "Prohibition is a Great Idea" Things that Have Changed:
1) The O-Line is playing well.
-For the past few seasons, everyone's favorite target has been the O-line. Well, we won the Superbowl with them last season. People still complained at the start of this year. Well, who's laughing now O-line? Ben routinely had tons of time to throw last night. Both sacks were pretty much Ben's fault for not throwing it away. The line also paved the way for Rashard to gain 155 yards on 22 carries with a 7 yard per carry average. Don't forget that the Broncos were one of the top D's coming into this game, especially against the run. Dumervil leads the league in sacks. Last night, he had a big fat goose egg. It was nice to see the Steelers imposing their will with the run to ice a game. If we can run like we did last night for the rest of the season, opposing defenses will really have their hands full trying to stop us.
2) Heath Miller dropped a ball.
-The normally sure handed Heath dropped a very catchable ball down the seam which would have been for a crucial first down. You don't see that happen too often from him.
3) Rashard Mendenhall living up to being a 1st round draft choice.
-After missing most of his rookie season with a broken shoulder suffered at the hands of Ray Lewis, there were many questions about whether Rashard was going to be a bust. He pretty much steered clear of the team for most of last year. He had a not so great pre-season and a lousy start to the year. He then got benched by Coach Tomlin for not being prepared during practice. Was this a masterstroke by a master motivator? It seems like just the wake up call Mendy needed because since then he has been a beast. After the benching, he put up 165 yards against SD averaging 5.7 yards per carry. The next week 5.1 yards, then a sub-par 3.6, but the next two games going against the leagues' two best run defenses he averaged 6.9 and 7 yards per carry. If he gets fumbling under control, he could be a beast for a while in this offense.
4) Good coaching decisions.
-What happened to the ultra-conservative approach of days past? With the Steelers up 11, and around 2 minutes remaining, Denver had 1 timeout left. The only way the Steelers could screw up the game was a turnover. They were easily in field goal range which would put them up two touchdowns. On third down, the Steelers should have run the ball, forced Denver to use its last timeout and kicked the field goal to ice the game. Instead they throw the ball. Granted it was a high percentage throw and it is nice to see the Steelers trying to put a game away by trying to win it instead of playing not to lose, but pretty much the only way we could lose is by a turnover. The Steelers got a first down. They got down to the three, ran twice and were faced with third and goal. What do they do? Another pass. It resulted in a TD but the call was a little edgy for my taste.
5) We played better in the second half
-This game was a tale of two halves. The Steelers somehow were leading at the half via a Ty Carter pick 6, but were badly outplayed. The Broncos had the ball for the vast majority of the half and the Steelers offense could only muster 53 yards to the Broncos 183. Credit the D for bending but not breaking. Check out the second half stats. The Steelers had the ball for 24 of 30 minutes. They put up over 300 yards of offense with great balance. The D made great adjustments and held Denver to about 60 yards for the half and no points. The D only gave up 3 points the whole game. And this was while missing 4 defensive starters from the beginning of the year. Fox and Carter played great. Ziggy Hood was in the backfield alot and Denver could not run at all against us. This D is getting better each week which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.
6) Who would have thought that the biggest game of the year for the Steelers and maybe the league would be Cincy at Pittsburgh on November 15th?
-The Steelers and Bengals are both 6-2 coming into the matchup, but the Bengals have already beaten us once. If they win next week in Heinz Field, they effectively have a two game lead over us for the division. In Sunday's game, the Bengals did pretty much whatever the wanted to the Ravens who after a hot start to the season, are 4-4 and two games behind us and Cincy for the division lead. It should be an awesome matchup. If we can continue our level of play from last night and cut down on turnovers, we should win this game. I know the team wants revenge for the loss earlier this year.
I will get pics from yesterday posted soon.