The defense stole the show and forced seven turnovers and used and abused the entire Tennessee Titans offense and team and sent that team back licking their wounds. It was great to see.
Oh, and the Steelers wanted me to pass something on to the rest of the NFL (because coaches and players obviously read this):
Now lets take a look at how things unfolded today in Tennessee.
The first thing that we noticed is how bad the Titans really want to be like the Steelers. Going into LP Field all the fans were handed powder blue towels with the number 12 on them. I guess that is supposed to mean you are the 12th man on the field. Awesome, real cute. Still saw a ton of yellow towels flying around.
You know when it wasn't really loud? During the first 10 seconds. MeMo was standing back for the kickoff and I was thinking to myself "Man that is really weird, why isn't Antonio Brown returning kicks" and then MeMo got the ball and handed it off to AB and he was gone.
Just when you think the special teams isn't going to be a factor, bam it happens. You know what was even better? The Steelers kick off to the Titans and the Steelers break down in some coverage, but leave it to Stevenson Sylvester, a rookie, to come from behind and cause a fumble that the Steelers recover.
What happens next? Only almost a full out throw down fight. Cortland Finnegan tried to mix it up with about half of the team and actually threw punch at Hines Ward and somehow Ward got a penalty too. I was not really surprised there was offsetting penalties because there were about 20 people in the tussle, but Finnegan is very lucky he wasn't tossed. After all that Dennis Dixon gets strip sacked and the Titans recovered. Meh. They job around and get a few first downs and then kick a field goal to make this a 7-3 games. Whatever. Still a great start for the special teams and a huge boost since the offense struggled in Atlanta.
The Steelers were very pedestrian in the first half and relied on the foot of Jeff Reed to put up two more field goals in the first half. The Titans did a hell of a job of looking like the football was a hot potato that they couldn't handle. Tennessee turned the ball over four, count em, four times in the first half. VY was picked twice in the first half and fumbled away two more. Not really what you want to do.
The big story for the Steelers in the second quarter when Chuck Batch came out. I was wondering what the hell was going on but it was quickly found out that DD had a knee injury and probably would not be back on the field. Awesome. Fourth string QB in that game. That is right, fourth string.
The Titans came out for the second half and really didn't do much else. The Steelers defense just came out and made things miserable for the Titans and their running game. Chris Johnson came in with 12 straight 100 yard rushing days and he wasn't "up to snuff" as Mike Tomlin might say today and was shut down, mainly by Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison. He barely was getting back to the line of scrimmage on most plays and looked pretty dejected.
I can see how Vince might get dejected as things were going like this for him all day:
On the third Titans possession in the second half James Harrison was his studly self and strip sacked Young to give the Steelers the ball back and Jeff Reed converted another field goal to put the Steelers up 16-3 at that point. It was really a dominating performance by the defense in Vince Young's face.
That would be it for youngin Vince. Vince gets pulled in favor of Kerry Collins. You know listening to the pregame shows you would have thought that Vince Young was the next Super Bowl winning QB, and actually Mike Irvin said that he would be a SB winner. Sorry, but that is what Vince Young really is. Making terrible reads and basically throwing interceptions to the other team. Like this one to LaMarr Woodley:
and this one to Troy:
Kerry didn't do so hot when he was in there as he was picked on his fourth pass attempt by Bryant McFadden.
A couple series later, with about six minutes left in the half, Collins was strip sacked by LaMarr Woodley and the Steelers came up with the ball again deep in Titans territory.
With five minutes left and down by 16 Collins did something that Vince Young couldn't and took the team on a 17 play, 86 yard drive that resulted in a Nate Washington touchdown. That was the first touchdown given up by the Steelers defense all year. Sure the Steelers played prevent defense there, but they kept things underneath and kept the Titan in bounds and the clock ran.
Maybe the play of that drive wasn't made by the Titans, it was made by Troy Polamalu. On a second down play this is what he did:
I know you are thinking "ah onsides kick, we will get this and it is over." Not so fast. The Titans recover the onsides kick after the Titans motioned into a center onsides kick. Will Allen tries to catch the ball on the bounce and it didn't work. Titans ball. There was a close call but McFadden and Clark break it up. The Titans then try a very creative play where they run a check down pass with no time left at midfield. Ballsy call, but didn't really work as Chris Johnson actually lost yards. Joke. Game.
-The Steelers only gained 127 yards of total offense. 127 yards. Most players in the NFL gain more yards than that. You wanna know what? They won. Who cares. As Mike Tomlin says there are no style points in the NFL so who cares. There were some injuries to the offensive linemen and we were on our fourth string QB. Stoosh made a few great points on Twitter saying that the Titans defense should look this good, they are playing a fourth preseason game offense. He is right, things were not good, but the defense stepped up and became the offense. I will take it. If this happens when Ben is back then it is worth noting but I don't care.
-That being said I didn't think the running game was too bad. The Titans knew the Steelers had to run the football, especially when Dixon went out and for Rashard to get 69 yards was good. A couple of big runs in the fourth quarter on a few drives were huge and for the most part I think the o-line did a decent job. Sure they gave up four sacks but we are playing with literally maybe one starter half the time. The linemen were being rotated in because of the heat so they could get fluids in their body, I am sure that is not easy.
-What more can you say about James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley? 92 had two sacks a forced fumble and 11 tackles (10 solo). 56 had four tackles, a sack and an INT. Woodley was dropping off in coverage a little bit and was doing a hell of a job. Those two are just straight freaks and James Harrison was a fixture in the face of Vince Young and Chris Johnson.
-A whole blog needs to be made about Lawrence Timmons this year. Dude should easily win the defensive player of the week award. The only problem? James Harrison, but LT should win it. He had 15 tackles (12 solo) and was a beast in the run game. I mean the strides he made from even last year to this year is really unreal. If Chris Johnson has a new tattoo of Lawrence Timmons helmet on his chest I wouldn't even bat an eye. What might have been more impressive than his run stopping (which was incredible) was his pass coverage. I noticed a few times that LT was matched up man-on-man with Chris Johnson out of the backfield in pass patterns and was with him stride for stride and was all over him. LT is so freakishly athletic he is able to do this and he is going to be something special if he keeps this up.
-This might be one of the best defensive performances you could possibly see. I mean they forced seven turnovers. This was a Titans team that was FAVORED by five points going in. People were talking as if Vince Young was an elite QB before the game and the Steelers defense made him look like a school boy. It seemed as if there were 15 defensive players on the field today. Unreal performance. If this defense plays like this the rest of the season then this is a division winning team and a serious Super Bowl contender.
-Speaking of defense how big of a deal do you think that Troy Polamalu is to the defense? I would say he is a pretty big deal. The DB's couldn't buy a pick last year and he made two picks in two games. Two HUGE picks. That play on the goal line is probably the play of the year so far. No lie my jaw dropped and I was speechless when that happened. I don't care what people think, Troy is the best player, regardless of position, in the NFL. If they had to redraft the entire NFL he would be the first overall pick. Player like this don't come around too often and he is on our team. Unreal.
-On the Titans side of the ball we didn't really talk about Chris Johnson. CJ is a very good running back, probably the best in the league. Sure he is a possible 2,000 yard back but he can also catch passes and make other things happen. If there was one thing that was pretty clear today (to me at least) was that CJ does not like to take hits. It just seemed like as the game wore on he just got more tense and indecisive with the football and was not hitting the line with the power he usually does. The Steelers hit him hard and early in the game and it took a huge toll on him. CJ has been know for not taking many hit because he is very good with his body positioning and absorbing blows, but today he was exposed a few times and the Steelers smacked him around. I am not saying he is weak, there are just some people in the NFL that don't like to get hit and I think he is one of them. Hines Ward is a guy who likes to get hit and it shows in his game. CJ is not like that. He is the best in teh league, but you are able to get into his head and alter his game if you can smack him around.
-I thought Jeff Reed did an exceptional job today on his kickoffs. We all know he is pretty money on field goal attempts but a lot has been made of his kick offs. They don't go deep enough and it leaves the defense hamstrung, la la la. Today he was kicking the ball into the end zone with consistency. I don't know if it was due to the weather, I don't care. It was a nice job by Jeff.
-The offense looked bad. We all know that. It was hard to watch when we had the ball, but IT DOESN'T MATTER. When we started this it was pretty much agreed that the Steelers needed to go 2-2 before Ben got back and the Steelers got those two wins against good teams. Style points don't matter to Mike Tomlin and they shouldn't matter to you. Hell a monkey (literally, a wild monkey) could line up at QB and he he gets the Steelers a win I don't care. If the Steelers can get another win or even both then this team is going to be dangerous when Ben gets back. Throw the offense out the door and just focus on W/L. Would you be happier if the offense racked up 450 yards of offense and lose by 2? I wouldn't, I would rather gain 100 yards of total offense and win by 8. Book it.
What do yinz think? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments section.