Apologies for a new fanpost. But after taking time to write this up, I didn't want to lose the ability to edit it.
So I will add to the wealth of good analysis by analyzing a couple of stats from last night.
8 - The number of times Ben got knocked down. In a different post I complimented the O-line for great pass protection, especially in the 4th quarter. I stand by that post. For most of the 4th quarter Ben had all day in the pocket. Our guys contained a good Titans pass rush when it counted. Having said that 8 hits in a game is a lot. I put most of those on Ben. The guy can stand and deliver, the guy can run and deliver. But I have a hard time imagining that anyone , not even Ben can get hit that much and still finish a 16 game season. Prove me wrong Ben, but please dump 1-2 of those off if you can.
+11 - Steelers advantage in starting field position . Steelers started on average at the 31 yard line. The Titans started on average at their 20. This number is composed of a couple of other interesting numbers including:
4 - Punts inside the 20 for Sepulvada - Of his 7 punts last night 4 landed inside the 20. None went into the endzone. None were shanked. Robopunter 2.0.
29.0 - Kick off AVG for Stephan Logan. - Robopunter plus Joystick = great special teams. 10 - Total tackles by Keryan Fox - anyone miss Lawerence Timmons last night? Also credit Collinsworth with coining "Fox and Friends" for the Steelers D. Begin punning.
3 - Catches by Rookie Mike Wallace. Remember that old story about receivers needing at least two years to fit into the Steelers new system? I have new story for you. A guy who runs a 4.3 40 will get open. If he keeps catching everything thrown his way, the only real question will be can Ben throw fast and far enough to get him the ball.
1- Catch by former Steeler Nate Washington - I know, I know - Washington was hurt, but the guy literally couldn't sleep for a week anticipating his mighty homecoming. The upshot was that the rookie we signed to replace him looked faster and more reliable. Good luck Nate, we loved you here, we wish you the best, but it doesn't seem like we are going to miss you.
8 - Number of times that Heath Miller was targeted and number of catches Miller had - Ben feels about Heath the way a small child feels about his Blanky. For good reason.
1 - Yards the Steelers gained in the first Quarter on 4 drives - You can lay that on a ton of different things, including jitters and good Titans D. I am not an Arians hater, but I say part of the blame is his. When you have 6 months to prep for an opening quarter your script should produce more than 1 yard. It doesn't help his case that the offense started humming when Ben took the wheel. I won't say it was all negative from BA, but over-all I give him a C minus at very best.
1.6 - Average Yards per Carry - It's been analyzed by many on the board, so I won't say too much more, but the run game was awful. None of our backs averaged more than 1.6 yards a carry. The longest run was 8 by Willie Parker. In the post game Tomlin said "We are not going to abandon anything that we set out to do any given week." Perhaps, but I wonder if we will keep trying to do the same things next week.
363 Yards- The most yards Ben has ever thrown in a win - only twice in his storied career has Ben thrown for more yards. Both were losses. His highest total came in 2006 against Denver when he threw for 433 yards and the Steelers lost 31-20. His second highest total 386, came in a 38-31 loss to Cincinnati in 2005. His fourth highest total? That would be 329 yards in our loss to Tennessee last year.
A lot of people have argued that following this game we will see Tomlin abandon the run and throw 40-50 times a game. I don't see it.
9-131-1 - Holmes Stat line for the SB and for this game. - It's been pointed out by many, but I feel like it's worth repeating. Leave aside the freaky symmetry for a moment. You have to love that after missing a bunch of time Holmes came on smoother and faster than Snoops chronic. Hmmm possible connection?
3 - The number of game winning drives Ben led last night - Show of hands, how many people remember what it was like to watch O'Donnell, Slash, Tommy-gun, Bubby Brister, Mark Malone or Cliff Stoudt walk on to the field for a fourth quarter drive.
For those of you who are a bit younger I will try to describe how it felt for me. In a word Nausea. When those guys took the ball with the game on the line, I had a mix of about 10% hope and 90% a dead certain feeling that we were about to lose in some horrible way. Those averages seemed fairly well founded. In contrast, I love watching Ben under pressure. It's like watching Jordan in his prime. He didn't always win. But you want to see what happens when the ball is in his hands.
3 times last night we put the ball the game Ben's hands.
Trailing by 3 with 11:00 minutes left Ben led a 12 play 56 yard drive that chewed up 8:06 on the clock. He was 7-7 on the drive. The drive only stalled because 2 straight runs failed to pick up a meager two yards. You could well argue that if Ben had been given the ball that we would have been up by 4.
The second drive started on the Steelers 42 with 1:50 seconds left. Ben was 4-4.for 54 yards. A beautiful 30 yard strike down the middle to Hines should have sealed the game but luck was not with us. Instead the game went to overtime.
In overtime Ben lead a 10 play 63 yard drive - Ben was 5-7 on the drive.
If you add all those stats up Ben's game winning drive should be listed as 16-18 for 173 yards.
1-0 - Steelers record - Let's be honest. It was a tough game to watch. You wanted to see our guys to come out and stomp on the Titans the way they stomped on us and the terrible towel last year. You wanted LenDale White crushed in the backfield. You wanted to see our O-line establish the run and pound the ball down their throats till they acknowledged that we were the better team.
You didn't want to see our O-Line get physically dominated at the line of scrimmage. You didn't want to see Ben go down 8 times. You didn't want to see stupid penalties and mental breakdowns nearly cost the game. You most certainly didn't want to see our All-world, super-stud, Tazmanian Devil of safety go out with a stupid freak knee injury. Especially when he was making an early case to steal the DPLOY from our rabid-freak-monster of a linebacker.
But you know what, that's football. As Coach T. said after the game. "Our guys travel light. They don't tote baggage."
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the 2009 Steelers. They are not a dominant team. They are not pretty. They have major issues. They also just beat one a great team in a gutsy over-time fist-fight. They are 1-0.
So listen to Coach T. He is a wise man. "Travel light. Don't tote the baggage." "The 11 guys on the field at any moment are who we are." Most importantly "don't ride the emotional roller-coaster."
I know some will disagree. Personally if we won by 40 points every game, I wouldn't enjoy it as much. Leave that for the Patriots.
During the game last night two different friends (Giants fan and Niners fan) each texted me one word "boring."
I'll take this kind of boring every week.