Wow, I don't know where to start with this. I love not being constrained by the format of a newspaper column, but often times, at least after monumental moments for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it makes it tough deciding how best to go about saying all the myriad things that my pent up verbal vomit would love to just release all at once for us to then converse about. I'll get to it all, but this first offering is a simple tribute to Troy Polamalu, one of the most incredible players and human beings ever to wear the Black & Gold, past or present.
The Steelers 23-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens was representative of the general trajectory of the team's entire body of work this season - it wasn't perfect; there were frustrating moments amidst the positives; the offensive line struggled at times but got it together -just- enough to allow our franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger to do what he does best - make plays with both his arm and feet at critical junctures of the game.
As for the defense? They returned to form after a several week hiatus in which they only played well, not superbly. LaMarr Woodley had 2 huge sacks and several emphatic stops in the running game - in fact, I'd contend that his tough play against the run was one of the reasons we were able to limit Willis McGahee to just 60 yards on 20 carries. Countless others made timely plays in either the running game or in the secondary.
But it was our All Everything Safety Troy Polamalu who set the tone for the defense tonight. A week after making little to no impact on the team's victory over San Diego, Polamalu came out determined to do what he's so special at doing - making timely plays in all sorts of different situations, including in two of the game's more critical moments.
I have to take the chance first to dredge up something I wrote about Polamalu not too long ago:
Sheesh, thinking about Troy Polamalu's impact on this defense when he's healthy makes me wonder if he's not the most valuable player to our defense's success. Regardless, without going there, I can still confidently say this about Troy: we as Steelers fans will never see anything quite like him ever again at the safety position.
Yes there will other greats in the years to come. Some might even have more consistent and/or longer careers. But nobody and I truly mean nobody finds ways to make the unimaginably spectacular happen so often.
Want some more proof that Troy truly does the unthinkable out there physically on the football field? Check it out - facing 4th and 1 from just inside Steelers territory, P stops Joe Flacco in his tracks on an attempted QB sneak. It took more than just 'flying' over the top though. Polamalu had to grab hold of the 6'5" Flacco and ensure he didn't fall forward.
Here he comes! (Perfect timing by Troy by the way)
And we have take off! Notice how Flacco right now has his pads low and heading in the right direction.
Haha. Wow. Troy is basically perpendicular to the ground here! He's got a hold of Flacco, but holding on to him and wrestling him back is definitely not a given here at this point.
Oh my god. Troy's now paralllel to the ground! Just after being 90 degrees in the other direction. And he's able to hold on and still find the strength to hold back Flacco despite being suspended in the air sideways. Toby Mcguire as Spider-Man? Puhhh-lease. Missed casting opportunity if I've ever seen one.
But not really; that's what Troy Polamalu does on the football field. The unthinkable and the impossible. In all sorts of different situations. We needed each and everyone of his big plays against the Ravens and we'll likely need more of his virtuoso play making ability against the Arizona Cardinals when the teams square off in Super 43 two weeks from now.