I don’t know if there was a bigger opening game for the season than there was today for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was huge. The defense is pretty much back and it is only going to get better. DD did what he had to do and there were very little mistakes. Gotta love being a Steelers fan.
The Steelers started the game off right getting the points on the board. I don’t know what was going on but the play calling was excellent. Running the football and running easy screens for DD to get acclimated to the game. The Steelers chewed up 7:03 off the game clock and ended with a 52-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Reed has been good kicking at Heinz Field but you woulda thought he was bashing a towel dispenser at Sheetz the way he hit that field goal, with about five yards to spare.
The defense stepped up and made some plays to end the quarter. Matt Ryan barely had room to breathe during the quarter as he was harassed and give no time to make passes. LaMarr Woodley continued to be his studly self and ended a Falcons drive with a sack of Ryan. The Steelers then ended the quarter with a stop of Mike Turner on a 3rd and one. If the defense can play like this the Steelers can win some football games this year.
The Steelers and Falcons really played a glorified chess match for the second quarter, not taking a lot of chances and just trading punts for the most part. With about five minutes left in the first quarter the Steelers hit some big passes and drove down inside the Falcons 30 before DD threw a pick. He had Heath Miller wide open and the linebacker was underneath. Instead of putting some touch on the pass he threw a bullet like the backer wasn’t even there. Needless to say that was picked off and killed a drive.
The Steelers got the ball back and made a push with the two minute offense and got in some good field position, but Dennis again threw a low pass to an open Randle El and forced a 55-yard try by Skippy but it just missed hitting the left upright. Plenty of leg on the kick and actually might have been good from 60 so that is a nice look for Skippy.
With the miss it gave the Falcons to get a few plays and work into field goal range and they knocked down a 49 yarder to go into the half tied.
Dennis did ok, the play calling really helped him and BA did a nice job of setting him up to be successful but DD just needed to relax and throw the football. He basically threw the ball into the ground with open receivers and that needed to change and really was the reason the Steelers weren’t up at the half.
The second half was much more of the same as the first half. Nothing dazzling just a decent big play here and there and a lot of meh. Dennis opened up a little bit and got the ball down the field to Mike Wallace for a big time play and set up a short Jeff Reed field goal after the Falcons went up by three with a field goal in their first possession of the half.
The Steelers and Falcons jobbed around a little bit more and then midway through the fourth quarter the Steelers put together a pretty nice drive. Dennis Dixon found Hines Ward on back to back plays to drive into the red zone.
The drive stalled and DD almost threw another pick so getting three points was pretty good in my mind and gave the Steelers a 9-6 lead.
This is where the Steelers defense folded last year. Today it didn’t fold, but let the Falcons drive down the field and make a few plays. The Steelers got unlucky when Lawrence Timmons sacked Ryan, forced a fumble and Silverback took it to the hosue for a TD. The play was challenged and then overturned when it was shown that Matt Ryan was in the throwing motion. Good call, but unlucky. They did buckle down once Atlanta got into the red zone and forced another field goal to tie the game at nine. It must also be noted during this drive that it was reconfirmed that holding James Harrison is still legal in the NFL.
The final two minutes of regulation was unreal crazy. The Steelers get the ball, right before the two minute warning Mike Tomlin called a timeout after gaining seven yards on first down. Second down, after the TO, BA calles a pass and DD gets sacked. Third and long and DD gets sacked again. Balls. Daniel Sepulveda booms a punt that went like 90 yards and set up Atlanta on their own 20 yard line. First play was unreal. Matt Ryan tries to throw an out route and Troy breaks on it from midfield and makes an unreal pick on the sideline. The Steelers were set up to win this thing. Jeff Reed, 40 yards out, wide right. You have to be shitting me. Reed is money and he missed.
The Falcons won the toss and then the defense took over. Forces the Falcons to punt and after a shoddy punt the Steelers took over at the 50 yard line. That is when it happened. First down. Rashard Mendenhall. To the house. First play from scrimmage for the Steelers in overtime and they made very short work of it.
Huge win for the Steelers.
-The defense was the real deal today. That is the kinda defense this team needs this year if they are going to be a real player for a playoff spot. They need that kinda play from its secondary which was very impressive today. Sure Rody White had 100+ yards receiving but that was about it. Bryant McFadden had a very nice game and Troy was his normal studly self. Harrison and Woodley each came up with a sack and late in the fourth quarter the refs actually called a hold on an offensive lineman against Silverback.
-Speaking of McFadden there is one thing that he doesn’t get enough credit for in his game and that is that he is a very good tackler. He lead the team today with 14 total tackles and he was very good around the line of scrimmage and made some very nice open field tackles. This was a problem for the Steelers last season and BMac makes a vast improvement on that.
-Third and short was a success today. Isaac Redman was the short yardage back and he converted. I do not know off hand how many he converted, but he was very successful at moving the sticks.
-Someone wants to say this but nobody wants to get their hopes up, but the offensive line did a pretty nice job today. They did a nice job in the preseason in the running game and opening up holes, but they were really good today. David Johnson threw a huge block on Mendenhall’s game winning touchdown run and there were very few penalties on the o-line today. I know they gave up three sacks, but they weren’t that bad as a whole. DD had some nice time to throw and really didn’t have to roll out of the pocket to escape. Nice effort by the line.
-Starks went out with an injury. This could be a big injury. Jon Scott came in a did a pretty good job from what I can see. Didn’t look good when Starks got rolled up on and couldn’t even put pressure on it, but you never know with injuries.
-The Atlanta Falcons are a good football team. Lets not get this twisted, this wasn’t some bad team that came in and we beat. This was a good football team. Matt Ryan isn’t an elite QB like Fox wanted you to think but he is still better than most. Mike Turner is a really good running back and Rody White can play some football. The defense dig a great job of getting the big stop, but that is a good team.
-DD wasn’t terrible. His stat line looked pretty good. 18/26 for 236 yards and a pick. Not terrible, but he coulda been a lot better. He should improve but he was a part of this win. Sure he had the one turnover but for the most part he kept things in perspective and took care of the football and got this team a win.
-Heinz Field was electric today. Usually these early season games are tough and it takes the fans a while to get into it too, but that place was pretty loud today and they represented the team on the field with some noise when the team needed it.
-Hines Ward went for six catches and 108 yards. He is a big time player.
-Mendenhall had a really nice game. He kept pounding the rock and finally got rewarded for it. He had good vision today and got what he could when there wasn’t anything there. I can’t really recall too many times he was taken for a loss. He finished with 22 carries for 120 yards and the line touchdown of the game. Nice work.
Huge win for the Steelers. I am sure there will be more to add to this later but for now this is all you get. Did I miss something? Did you see something different? What are your thought? Leave em in the comments.