Wow! What a night for Steelers present and past. I really wish I could have been at Heinz last night, despite what looked to be pretty miserable conditions in the 'Burgh. The place was rocking early on and the Steelers gave their faithful fans no reason to quiet down for the next two hours.
Show of hands here...when you saw the rain pouring down at the start of the telecast, who was nervous that the conditions might favor Baltimore? I figured Baltimore would be just fine with a slugfest, and with FWP's early-season fumbling problems...
Dumb of me to think this Tomlin-coached team would allow the elements to distract them from doing what they do. James Silverback Harrison made sure of that early on. James, what exactly was working for you last night?
Thanks for being honest James and thank you Baltimore for not being able to tell your ass from your elbow in this specific case of talent evaluation. Silverback's final line:
8 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 FFs, 1 FR, 1 INT
If I remember correctly, the producers of MNF flashed a graphic stating that Harrison was the first player in NFL history to finish a game with 3+ sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and an interception.
#92 directed his anger at a more appropriate subject last night
Harrison was far from a solo act last night however. Farrior, Kirschke, and Haggans all made their way to the QB. Polamalu looked like the best safety in football while Ed Reed looked like a Division II college player that acidentally stumbled onto an NFL field. Brett Keisel was his usual hyper-energetic self, and I believe I even witnessed Deshea Townsend man up and make a physical tackle in the running game. A+ performance by all.
As for the offense? Congratulations to Ben Roethlisberger for matching Terry Bradshaw's club record of 5 TD passes. The TD tosses were representative of Ben's cornucopia of skills - several came on plays where he again found a way to shake the intial pass rush and find a man downfield, while other TD throws came on textbook 3 and 5-step drops in the pocket.
Ben's final line? 13/16, 209 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs. That's a perfect QB rating in case you were wondering.
Willie Parker was largely ineffective, but that didn't mean he wasn't a presence in this game. FWP's block on Ray Lewis on what I believe was Ben's 2nd TD toss was HUGE. Parker stepped up and took Lewis on head first. No chopping at the ankles, no bumping with a shoulder. Parker took him face-mask to face-mask and stopped Lewis in his tracks. Impressive stuff from a clearly very complete football player. I would be remiss not to mention Santonio and Nate. Both finished with a pair of TD grabs in the first half. As we suspected in the discourse leading up to the game, the Ravens secondary couldn't matchup with our talented WR corps without the services of S. Rolle and Chris McAllister.
Nate and Santonio light up the Ravens
And of course there's Hines, one of the honorees at last night's celebration. It's plays like these why Steelers fans will always love Ward:
Hines leaves his mark on the game (and on Ed Reed) with his physical style of play
Finally, some love for the Special Teams. Harrison's forced fumble on Ed Reed was obviously huge, and I noticed that our first round draft pick Lawrence Timmons came up with Ed Reed's fumble. A good display of hands and body control by Timmons along the sideline in those conditions. I'd say punt return coverage was sound all night in fact. We could still do a bit better on kickoff return coverage, but at a time like this, who can complain too much. Daniel Sepulveda continues to impress with both his power and his accuracy. 4 more punts inside the 20 for Sepulveda. Jeff Reed notched another touchback, and booted one more into the endzone that was returned. Again, a fairly complete performance by all involved.
More to come on Big Ben's performance and where he belongs in discussions about the league's best quarterbacks, as well as a closer look at James Harrison's 2007 campaign. For now, use this thread to celebrate what had to have been one of the more enjoyable displays of domination us fans have been treated to in a long, long while.