Just win. That's all that matters in the National Football League. The Pittsburgh Steelers did just that in Week 7 with a 23-22 victory against the Miami Dolphins in a highly entertaining and tightly-contested game. To some of my talking points from the win:
* The Steelers just beat a good football team. When I wrote my feature for SB Nation Pittsburgh recently about the Steelers' upcoming tough month of games, I most certainly perceived Miami as a tough out in the quartet of games. What left me most impressed was the play of quarterback Chad Henne. I thought he was outstanding and a bonafide top 10 or so quarterback in this league when he has time to scan the field, set his feet and unleash that big arm of his.
* For those of you who are concerned that the Steelers defense may not be quite what we thought it was, I say just this: perfect offense beats great defense every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. That's not to say the Dolphins' offense was 'perfect' all day, nor that the Steelers' defense was 'great' in Week 7. But on many of Miami's successful passing plays, the Dolphins simply executed efficiently. And when NFL teams do that, there's not too, too much you can do about it. Especially not when you're not harassing the quarterback with pass pressure and forcing him to make quicker decisions than he may like.
* That's exactly what happened - the Dolphins' offensive line did a better job than any team all year against the Steelers in pass protection. Chad Henne was sacked just once all afternoon, a stunt blitz through the A-gap by veteran Larry Foote.
* While we're on the subject of rushing the passer though, how about a Steeler Nation salute to rookie Jason Worilds for a job well done filling in for the injured LaMarr Woodley at left outside linebacker. Worilds didn't finish with a sack, but on at least three occasions he hurried Henne. It's not clear yet how injured Woodley is, but the announcing crew mentioned that Woodley was out with a hamstring injury. We'll see if Woodley can play next week at New Orleans, but if he must sit a week out, at least Worilds proved that he can have an impact pressuring the quarterback. Nice job rook!
* Three more touchdowns from Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday. That gives him six in just two games of action in 2010. Big Ben looks good. Real good. His 53-yard bomb to Mike Wallace was a thing of beauty. I've heard fans question Roethlisberger's ability to throw the deep ball. Not entirely unfounded, but I'd say that Big Ben is far from suspect in that department. In addition to his long hook up with Wallace, Roethlisberger found Hines Ward on a gorgeous 43-yard connection that led to the Steelers' first points of the afternoon.
* As good as Roethlisberger was throwing the football, it was a bit disconcerting to see him fumble the ball three times on Sunday. Big Ben only lost one of them, his first early in the game. His second, which was recovered by Maurkice Pouncey, was the product of him trying to do too much when not a whole lot was there. It's the quintessential Big Ben dilemma. You want him doing what only he can do - making guys miss, keeping plays alive, then creating something out of nothing once the defense has broken down and the play has transformed into sandlot football. It's a slippery slope though and a fine line. We'll see how he adjusts in the weeks to come.
* As for Roethlisberger's third and final fumble, well you all have discussed it in the previous thread. Very, very fortunate stuff for the Steelers. Am I alone in not really loving the play call that had Big Ben running a quarterback draw out of the shotgun on 3rd down and goal from inside the 5? I don't know. Hindsight is most certainly 20/20, but seemed like a great time to call Isaac Redman's number rather than have Roethlisberger, who had fumbled twice previously in the contest, sneak it. Thank goodness it worked out in our favor. I'd be disheartened if I were a Dolphins fan, that's for sure.
* I'm no doctor, but without any insider knowledge at all about the situation, I'll still say that I'm extremely concerned that Aaron Smith might be out for a long period of time. All we know is that Smith sustained an injury to the same arm that has been hampered in recent years by a shoulder and a rotator cuff injury.
* Mewelde Moore! Many of us, myself included, have questioned whether he's worthy of a $2 million dollar cap hit and a hat each week on this team, but on an important 3rd down and 5 from the Miami 43, Bruce Arians dialed up the absolute perfect play call - a slip screen to Moore on a Dolphins' blitz. Moore snagged it out in the right flat, covered the ball with two hands, and rumbled down inside the 15 yard line for a first down.
* Not much of an impact from Troy Polamalu in recent weeks.
* Solid job by Jeffrey Reed today. Nothing noteworthy about his 3-of-3 FG performance necessarily, but it was still a welcomed sight to see him do his job.
* Kudos to Emmanuel Sanders for redeeming himself throughout the game after his early gaffe, a fumble on the opening kickoff that led to a cheap 3 for Miami. Sanders' lone catch was an important 18 yarder on 3rd down. More importantly, it was Sanders' 48-yard kickoff return that set up the Steelers' game-winning FG after the Dolphins took the lead for the first time in the second half late in the fourth quarter.
* Lots to talk about this week - the injury situation, what to think of the vanishing act by the running game, the play of the defense, and many more topics. But for now, we celebrate a 5-1 start to the 2010 season. With the New York Jets idle, the Steelers match them with the NFL's best record through 7 weeks. Just win!