Well that was certainly interesting now wasn’t it? Just like the game against the Colts the Steelers got ahead early with some great play and then seemed to sleepwalk to finish the game. The silver lining? They won both games. I know you hear it from me all the time but I truly don’t give a shit how the Steelers win. If the Steelers won by 50 would that 4-2 record get them any closer to Baltimore than the way they won yesterday? I didn’t think so.
There were some flashes of true greatness in the offense but they seemed to be really scatter brained for the most part of the game. It seemed as if they could do whatever they wanted in the first quarter and just beat the hell out of the Jags on both offense and defense and then the offense got cute. No idea what was going on. What I do know is that the Steelers got a win that they needed to have. This might sound weird but there was no point in that game where I thought the Steelers were in any jeopardy of losing. The Jags played better than I thought, but the Steelers were just a better football team.
Here are some of the general thoughts I have on the game:
-Ben Roethlisberger was great early and then really had some problems as the game went on. He was absolutely stellar in the early part of the game and was picking apart the Jags secondary at will and finally broke them when he found Mike Wallace early in the second quarter when he was basically wide open. He then found Wallace again on a 48 yard pass on the next drive that led to a field goal. That was about it thought. He wasn’t as accurate as you usually see but a lot plays in that. From what I have heard the wind was ridiculously bad and the Steelers for some reason wanted to throw the deep ball a lot. Now I think I am in the minority of this but I didn’t mind going for the throat there. The problem is that Ben was particularly bad at throwing downtown on Sunday. I mean he isn’t very good at it to begin with but he missed Mike Wallace at least twice and overthrew Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders when they were wide open in the seam. I am not sure how much the wind had an effect on this, but damn he could have thrown for 400 on that secondary if he hit half of the deep balls he threw. Most people will talk about how he only completed one pass in the second half (!) but what they probably don’t tell you is that he only attempted five passes. Blah. Ben wasn’t great but he didn’t turn the ball over and threw a touchdown pass. It could be a lot worse. Have you seen Rex Grossman?
-Well, I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t bench and/or trade Rashard Mendenhall. All the dude did was carry the ball 23 times for 146 yards which included this gem:
I wonder what the people are saying that claim he never hits the holes and dances too much? I mean I guess that was a bad run then right? I said it last week that Mendenhall was the clear cut best back on this roster and he showed exactly why. When the offense was spuddering a little bit he was still ripping off chunks of yards and moving the chains. It was great to see.
Yea, nothing else to say about that. Young Money.
-What would a Steelers game be like without an offensive lineman getting hurt? I mean this happens at least once a game doesn’t it? This time it was Doug Legursky that went down and from what I am hearing and understanding he might not be back for a while. Word is that he dislocated a toe and that is not something that a player can come back from very quickly. This is not good. Trai Essex came in to play for Legursky but is a downgrade at the position. The Steelers just don’t have much more depth at the position and with them being like $100,000 under the cap there just isn’t anything they can do. Just not a good scenario. Unreal.
-The offense was very up and down but the defense really stepped up and played some good football. In six games this season the Steelers have held the opponent to 17 points or less all but twice. I don’t know about you but not giving up big points to the opponent is the main point and the Steelers have done that pretty well this year. I made no secret in my preview that Blaine Gabbert wasn’t going to beat them and the defense made sure I was right. They sacked the rookie quarterback five times and the defensive backs limited him to 109 yards on 12-of-26 passing. Not a bad effort from the Steelers defense. They got a lot of pressure on the quarterback which was something they didn’t do early in the season. Really nice to see.
-Talking about getting to the quarterback and you have to talk about LaMarr Woodley. While he hasn’t been facing the best offensive lineman the past couple of games he is getting after it. Woodley earned two sacks and a bunch of quarterback hurries and also made eight tackles. I think we might be seeing him come out of his early season shell and if he is then the defense should be getting that much better and it will continue to help a secondary that has been much improved this season.
-The defensive lineman on a 3-4 defense is some of the most unheralded people on the team. They take on the block to free up the linebackers to make plays and thus get most of the accolades. Guys like Aaron Smith have been lost in the shadows of this throughout the years and largely go unnoticed until they aren’t in the game and the run defense slips. In the game on Sunday Brett Kiesel was an absolute monster. People mostly know him for the beard but after he came back from an injury the last two weeks the defense has really stepped up his game. Kiesel is one of those underrated players that plays the run game very well and can also get after the quarterback more than Aaron Smith might be able to. The Diesel had six tackles and two sacks on the day and was all over the field. He must get recognized for his strong play and Sunday was one of his best of the short season he has played so far.
-James Farrior was also very solid. A lot of people are asking why he is still on the team and wonders if he is too old to play but he was very effective and led the team with 11 tackles and also picked up a sack and defended a pass. Sure he has lost a step over the past couple of seasons but he can still bring it. Do I want him covering backs out of the backfield or tight ends down the field but I think he can still be effective at stopping the run and giving you 100% on every play.
-When Troy Polamalu is healthy there really aren’t many players that can do what he can do. He was all over the field yesterday and while he may not be confused with a great tackler you can’t take away the fact that his football instincts are just off the charts. If you watch on Sunday he was able to time the snap count on huge downs to disrupt plays and it is just unreal. Take this play for example:
Just really something on how he always seems to time the snap count exactly right and very rarely gets called for being offside’s or ever gets thrown off by a long snap count. The biggest play that Troy maybe made was on a fourth and one in Steelers territory when he did this to force a Jacksonville field goal late in the game:
Unfortunatly that last play came with some consequence because Troy would sit out the rest of the game with “concussion like symptoms.” Word is that he will be good play against Arizona on Sunday but Troy has had some concussions before and with the way he plays it is always a risk. As you saw when he is healthy he is a game changing player.
-I still have some growing concern with Brown and Sanders. I was listening to some Pittsburgh sports talk radio (as I do usually every day at work) and heard some post game talk from both Brown and Sanders about the deep balls that they missed on and they both brought up the point that they were not on the same page as Ben. I am sorry but this is their second season, they need to start being on the same page a little more often. This isn’t a new thing there have been multiple times this season where they both have missed hot routes and it needs to stop. We don’t truly know whose fault it is but if I were to guess it would be on the two young receivers and it has to stop.
-I really have no idea what was up with the offense. For the first quarter it looked like they were going to be able to have their way with Jacksonville and might be able to put up 40 points up. It seemed as if as soon as the Steelers got a 17 point lead they took their foot off the gas and tried to open it up with the deep ball. I am not saying that they did this on purpose but you know in the back of the teams mind they knew they were a better team than Jacksonville and could probably afford to take some chances when they had the 17 point lead. The offense then got into a rut that they couldn’t get out of. Luckily the Jaguars do, in fact, suck so it worked out. It won’t work out against the Pats, I can guarantee that.
-Ike Taylor got beat for a touchdown. It doesn’t happen often so take note.
Like I said I really don’t give a shit how the Steelers won. 4-2 is 4-2 and a win on Sunday against Arizona will go a long way to a playoff berth and to get on a good roll before two huge games against New England and Baltimore. West coast trips suck typically for the Steelers but I think they will be alright. Whatever.