The first thing, first and foremost, is that Ben Roethlisberger is a top five, possible top three, quarterback in the NFL. Since he has been back he has shown some rust and has thrown a few picks, but Ben is back. 12 TD and only four interceptions and his is just on his A game. I know it was a lot of "stats padding" in the game against New England, but he was the only one that was actually giving the team any chance of winning. He has gotten better every week and he pisses teams off so bad that they actually try to bitch slap him. Good try Dick Seymour, you joke.
What I might have liked most about Ben's performance was that he used his legs a little bit more than he typically done. He almost out ran the entire Raiders team and he even took a ball for pay dirt in the first half. Ben has gotten into more of a "keep the play alive" role rather than picking up the easy first down most of the time. You have to take the good with the bad on this, but Ben has really gotten away from tucking the ball and running over the past few years. Really nice to see him picking up first downs and not forcing the ball into some bad situations.
I know I talk about this every single week, but it is worth mentioning. Ike Taylor needs to be priority number two behind LaMarr Woodley. Ike picked another pass and took it for six if not for a
I think the most underrated spot of the Steelers game yesterday was the special teams. I am not just talking about Daniel Sepulveda's strong day punting the football or the fact that the return team didn't give up an inch to the Raiders or the fact that new place kicker Shaun Suisham, who wore #6 for the first time since Bubby Brister, kicked a perfect 5/5 in extra points. It was all good on special teams, which was a far cry from what it was about last year. A season ago the special teams cost the Steelers games. This year it is winning them. DS punted the ball seven times for a 45 yard average and and put four of those punts inside the 20 yard line. When the Steelers have struggled offensively (not that they did against the Raiders) Sepulveda has done just as much as the defense has to keep them in the game and against Oakland he made sure that they didn't have a chance in hell of moving the football. Pinning them inside the 20 so many times, with a shoddy offense,a blood thirsty defense, and the Raiders had no chance. People don't notice that shit, but that is what wins games. The coverage was the same way. Mr. Suisham wasn't getting the ball to the end zone but the coverage was making plays all day. The third part of the team really stepped up, like it has all year.
James Farrior was on meth on Sunday. Last year I was starting to think that his time might have been up, but he was been great this year. If he wasn't on a team with LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison AND Lawrence Timmons he would be getting more pub, but the truth of the matter is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are toast of the town in the NFL. Farior led the team with eight tackles, a sack, two tackle for loss and another sack that got called back on a borderline penalty. Not a bad day for someone who lost a step a year ago.
The defense as a whole was just a freak on Sunday. James Harrison had two sacks, a forced fumble and a pick and was just all over the place. If the NFL wants to slap penalties and make an example of the Steelers then it is going to be a long rest of the season for offenses. The Steelers defense was pissed on Sunday and it showed and it was really great to see. By the way did Darren McFadden even play on Sunday? I know he was atop the league in rushing yards per game but he must have been hurt, right?
The officiating was terrible. No question about it. The roughing the passer call on James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and the PI call on Ike Taylor were the highlights but it was much more than that. I never, ever, blame the refs during games because that just isn't right. Their jobs are hard and people make mistakes but this was beyond that. James Harrison was called for putting all his body weight on the quarter back as he let go of the ball. If he doesn't let go of the ball is that a penalty? LaMarr Woodley didn't wrap up Jason Campbell, didn't drive him to the ground, hell he didn't even hit the ground. He was running to Campbell, he let go of the ball and Woodley threw up his hands as he was slowing down and bumped into him. Listen, if the NFL wants to make a statement then just come out and say you can't touch offensive players. This is a joke and it really is embarrassing. The more embarrassing thing is that James Harrison gets fined $75,000 for a repeat offender on a play that happened in between the whistle while someone that is a repeat offender in fights on the field punches a player AFTER the whistle only gets fined $25,000. Does that make sense? What a joke.
Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown made big plays and both are some of the youngest kids on the team. When we lost Santonio Holmes most of us knew that he wasn't going to be able to be replaced but the three of those youngsters are doing a pretty good job of trying to do it. Mike Wallace caught his eighth touchdown pass of the season and his seventh of 20 yards or more. This guy is just on another level with his speed. Unreal. Antonio Brown caught a big pass and Emmanuel Sanders made a touchdown catch from Ben. The Steelers get bashed a little bit for their mid to late round pick production but how can you argue with this? You can't.
Another underrated aspect of the game was how well Rashard Mendenhall played. He only picked up 50 some odd yards on the ground but his play early in the first half really set the tone for the game. There was little to nothing going on with most plays and he waited and waited and got five yards when he could have lost one. Sure he didn't get 100 yards but he opened up the play action and gave the running game some respect early in the game. It went a long way.
How the Steelers offensive line didn't give up a sack on Sunday is just beyond me. Not that I am complaining but with the injury situation it is getting somewhat comical. I mean Pouncey is going out of the game at points leaving only one real starting lineman in the game at times. Trai Essex and Jon Scott are not NFL linemen. You know it is getting bad when people are actually worrying about Jon Scott getting hurt. It has been that bad. They have to somehow stay healthy for another week. No idea.
Well on to Buffalo. Lets do this.