As Mike Tomlin will say on Tuesday "Style Points don't matter in the NFL." Amen Mike. This was ugly, really ugly. The Steelers got some huge luck at the end of the game with the Ben fumble (which we will get to later) but when it game down to it the offense, defense and special teams stepped up big time and did what they had to do. It wasn't going to be easy for every win this year. What separates average teams from great teams is that the great teams find ways to win games like this. It is what you have to do in the NFL and the Steelers got it done.
If you wanted to take a look at the exact wrong way to start a football game look no further than how the game started for the Steelers. The first terrible thing that happened was that Manny Sanders fumbled the opening kickoff. That led to a Dolphins field goal. Well, whatev right? I mean its only three, lotta game left and the offense will be better than last week and...blah. Ben is getting taken down and fumbles the football. You have to be f'in kidding me. The Dolphins take over at the Steelers 13 but can only manage another field goal.
On the real the defense really saved the ass of the offense and special teams. The Dolphins got the ball in and around the red zone twice in the first couple minutes of the game and the defense shut the door and pretty much threw up the bird to the Dolphins offense and put up their force field and shut the door. If that game starts out 14-0 Dolphins then the Steelers probably don't win the game. Actually when they hit the second field goal I texted a friend (Dolphins fan) and told him that not scoring a touchdown on either of those were going to cost Miami the game. It did.
The Steelers bounced back and got a Skippy Reed field goal and then Hines Ward does what he does and caught a touchdown and just like that the Steelers were up by four after a terrible start to the game.
The Dolphins came back and tacked on another field goal after the defense stopped the Dolphins again in the red zone. That was just kinda how the first half went for the most part for Miami. Then it happened. There was a huge return by Manny Sanders and that set up the Steelers right around midfield. First play Ben drops back and drops a dime on Mike Wallace for a 53 yard touchdown. I mean Mike Wallace had the DB 13 yards off him, he ran a nine route and just ran right by the DB.
Just pure speed. This was Ben's reaction:
"Suck it haters"
The Steelers were lookin good now. Ben was getting comfortable and shit was starting to click. Too bad it didn't last all that long.
The Dolphins answered on their next drive. Davone Best caught a pass and weaved his way into the end zone. I guess it helps when Troy blitzes you can literally bear hug him and tackle him. But don't worry, the Dolphins fans will talk about how terrible the refs were towards them. Jokes.
The second half of the football game was pretty mud for both teams. Trading field goals and just jobbing around like nothing was going on. Both teams moved the ball a little bit and just couldn't get shit done.
The Dolphins actually took the lead with some time left and it was gut check time for the Steelers. Luckily Manny Sanders stepped up again. Dude returned kicks well all day (sans opening kickoff) busted anohter one off and gave the Steelers great starting position in Dolphins territory. After a few plays the Steelers were faced with a third and five. Not a good spot on the field but Ben dumps it off to MeMo and he takes it all the way to the Miami 14.
That is when it got silly. Third and goal, BA draws up a QB draw from like the four yard line. Love it. Great play call. Ben dives for the end zone and they rule that he broke the plane before the ball came out. Touchdown (that is very important that they called it a touchdown, play dead). Well it turns out Ben fumbled before he got into the end zone. So the touchdown was off the board, but they couldn't figure out who recovered the fumble. Since it was ruled a touchdown the play was dead so they had to give the Steelers the ball on the half yard line. The Steelers kicked the field goal.
- The call was a good call. Dolphins fans and writers are going to be all over this, but the fact of the matter is that the play was blown dead. Plain and simple. He fumbled, he was not in the end zone, but that is what was called on the field. When the official singled touchdown the play was dead.They could try and figure out who had the ball in the pile, but we heard reports from the Steelers locker room where a few players said Jon Scott had the ball and he was fighting for it but then the officials came over and said it was touchdown so he dropped the ball there. Something anyone would do if the OFFICIAL TOLD THEM it was a touchdown. Does it suck for Miami? Yea, sucks real bad, but that didn't cost Miami the game. The refs did prevent the Dolphins from not being able to score in the red zone. They did not prevent the Dolphins from not getting a first down when they were down by one with 2+ minutes to go in the game. Get over yourselves.
- MeMo finally showed up. It is about time. He has been mud this year but he came up with HUGE runs and catches today that gave the Steelers a chance to win that game.
- The injuries are not good. Aaron Smith was lost to a torn tricep, LaMarr Woodley was out with a "tweaked" hammy, Kiesel was out with a hammy, Flo Adams was out with an ankle injury. It was not good. The defense suffered but was able to gut it up. Hopefully we get some better news on Smith, but from all accounts it looks to be a season ender. Smith is one of the guys on the team we can't afford to lose. He might be the most underrated player in the NFL and he will be sorely missed if he is in fact done for the year.
- Manny Sanders showed me a lot today. He did a really poor job of protecting the ball on the opening kick off and he could have easily let that bother him the rest of the day and mailed it in. He did far from that. Manny made a huge third down catch to convert and returned five kicks and averaged almost 30 yards a return. That is pretty legit and a huge bounce back.
- Ben was ok. He still looked pretty rusty and didn't really connect on a lot of throws. He did throw for 300 yards and made some big plays, but he still had issues. He fumbled three times, although only losing one, but that is what you get. He tried to extend a few plays and tried to get rid of the ball when he was "in the grasp" and fumbled it a few times. I am ok with it. We get way more good than bad when he does that stuff but that doesn't mean it isn't frustrating when he loses a fumble. He should start getting into a groove so it will be interesting.
- Heinz Ward is a freak. Dude was just cash money all day. Seven catches for 131 and a touchdown. What a beast. That is all.
- The run game was mud. This is probably why the Dolphins kept it close because the line didn't give much and Mendy just didn't have it today. If we had a QB like Favre or Sanchez there is no way in hell we win that game. Ben is a warrior. To be fair half of our line is out and Flo was hurt and we had like 6 people playing right guard today. Jesus what a mess.
- I will give the Dolphins some props. They are a better team than I thought. They didn't have enough, but it is what it is. Henne gave them a chance to win. He did much more than I thought he would.
- Most know that I am a big Ike Taylor supporter. A lot of people give him a lot of shit because they don't think he is very good. Well today he shadowed Brandon Marshall and held him to five catches for 57 yards. I don't know about you but that is pretty good. He was especially good down in the red zone and was like white on rice with Marshall. Excellent game by Ike. Swaggin.
- The Steelers are 5-1. Unreal.
- Halloween night in New Orleans. Buckle up.