CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 08: Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 8 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
1) I like the way Ben Roethlisberger handled the all-out kamakazi blitzes of the Bengals' defense last night. He got rid of the ball quickly most of the time, audibled out of certain calls at others, and on one occasion, made a really nice read on a third down run by seeing there was nobody in the middle of the Bengals' defense. It can't be overstated just how aggressively the Bengals were blitzing, and compared to how Big Ben and the offense has handled those types of scenarios in the recent past, I was fairly pleased with their preparation and in-game adjustments to counter the relentless pressure.
2) Antwaan Randle El proving he's deserving of a helmet each week. Another first down snag for him on a third down play, followed more notably by his 39-yard perfect spiral touchdown pass to Mike Wallace. I'm quite excited about Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown in future years, but I'm also pleased that the versatile, and veteran ARE is in the mix these next two years.
3) Terrell Owens baby-sitting Chad Ocho Cinco during the third quarter. Ocho Cino, still without a catch, was visibly pouting and having a meltdown, likely thinking about how much more difficult it is for him to continue justifying spending so much time with his extracurricular activities. But anyway, imagine that: T.O. giving someone else a 'grow-up' talk.
4) I like how James Harrison tries to knock out the football every time he makes a play. Jordan Shipley is going to be a very good player in this league, but he couldn't hold onto a 4th down pass in the final minute after Deebo crashed in on him and the ball. Give LaMarr Woodley credit for doing the same thing during one of his two take downs of Carson Palmer.
5) I like the way William Gay is being utilized by Dick LeBeau. He's nowhere near the mental level Deshea Townsend was several years ago, but Gay's ability to handle multiple responsibilities and assignments - including blitzing - is allowing the Steelers to throw additional looks at offenses.
6) I like Hines Ward. And I like the way Jon Gruden gushed about Hines Ward after he threw a big block on the Steelers' final drive that sprung Mendenhall for big yardage.Ward had just three receptions for 10 yards, but one was a beautiful touchdown reception, his 82nd career TD reception. Anyone else notice that when Ward fumbled, Tomlin looked understandably frustrated yet didn't do much more than grin knowing that even the most reliable veterans make costly mistakes from time to time?
7) I like that the Steelers have still not allowed more than 75 rushing yards in any single game this season. It took Cedric Benson 18 carries to get his 55 yards on the evening. More on the defense this week.
8) I like the throw by Ben Roethlisberger to Matt Spaeth with pressure coming at him in all directions. Big Ben flung a laser over the middle to his second tight end, and Spaeth made a superb effort catching the ball in traffic and absorbing the hit without losing the ball.
9) I like the two big hits by Domata Peko and Troy Polamalu in the fourth quarter. The first came from Peko, who was lined up in the backfield as a lead blocker in Cincinnati's goal-line jumbo package. Peko clothes-lined Polamalu with a vicious block and cleared the way for Benson's touchdown. Polamalu's turn came next when he lit up Terrell Owens cleanly after the catch. It was that kind of night for Owens though - he hung on to the ball for a big gain. I liked those plays because they were great displays of the insane toughness you need to play in the NFL, and perfect illustrations of just how fast and strong these guys are. Finally, what I like most about both plays is that nobody got injured, all bounced right back up, kept their mouth quiet and continued to play.
10) I like the fact that the Steelers are 6-2 and in complete control of their destiny moving forward. Things will undoubtedly change in the forthcoming weeks, but for now, the Steelers and their fans have absolutely zero scoreboard watching to do. Just win.