SI's Peter King got it best - all nation wanted overtime, except for the Black'n'Gold. This was the old-school NFL game. Tough, defense-first game with lots of injuries, and despite only 23 combined points scored, it was indeed an incredibly enternaining game to watch even for a casual fan.
As I mentioned in one of my comments, I do not think that this game is season-defining, but it is silly to deny its importance. My thoughts from the game after the jump.
Officiating. It was this week's trend here and all over the Internet to discuss the NFL officialing and fines. I'll start from that too. It is ironic that while the Steelers are being targeted by the NFL for dirty and dangerous play, the Steelers were on the receiving end of at least three such plays against Baltimore, with none flagged. I'll leave alone the play that knocked Heath Miller out - it is too obvious to discuss. But the other two that involved Ben Roethlisberger were just as egregious. First, early in the game, when Ben got his nose broken - it could be regarded as an incidental contact, but on the replay you could clearly see that the defender's arm goes high at Ben and hits him right above the facemask. How is that not a flag when we've seen penalties for as much as touching QB's helmet? And how about the flag on Ndamukong Suh for his hit on Jay Cutler late in that game?
The second one was way worse, since it happened in the open, not in the pile. Just before the Steelers RD, Terrel Suggs almost ripped the ball out of Ben's hands, and Ben made one of his marvels to escape. But it is absolutely clear that to wrap Ben up, Suggs basically frabbed Ben by the helmet and ripped it sideways. How is that a non-call? I expect at least two fines from the NFL this week.
Arians. I thought that Arians called a generally good game. Even after Miller and Flozell Adams went down, I thought it was a good idea to run the ball to keep the defense honest, even though it was clear that the running game would go nowhere. However, it was just plain stupid to run Rashard Mendenhall up the middle twice in a row in the first goal-line opportunity, and another time in the second.
Ben. No words, one big heart. Took a beating (I know how it feels to suffer a broken nose in a game and try to play through it). Two of his most reliable targets shut down (unusually quiet game from Hines Ward, Miller was simply knocked out of it), there were some drops, the O-line was its usual self in the first hald and lost Adams too... Ben showed why he should be regarded as an elite QB - not for his finesse and numbers, but for his ability to win games.
Shaun Suisham. Good leg from Shaun. The punt that was called back was a beauty! Solid on FGs too. But did you see how freaked out his face looked just before he had to rekick that punt? Anyway, it is good that jitters show on the face, not in the legs.
Defense. The D came up big. Except for the two long plays in the first half we played almost lights out. We got all the crucial stops that we needed. And finally we jammed the receivers at the launch in the mid- and short yardage situation (including the final fourth down that sealed the game). Troy Polamalu goes without saying - got the one play when they needed it most. And that was the point where the Steelers were closest to the defeat - even a couple of first downs and a punt would have put Pittsburgh in a very tough spot.
Isaac Redman. This is just his mentality - don't go down. Even after a heartbreaking cut from the roster last season, "Redzone" bounced back and made the team. Just as here - after being hit hard and wrapped up at about 5 yard line, he bounced back, broke another tackle and into the endzone. Wow.
Kemo. If you want an idea how big he is - take a look at his fumble recovery (it was wiped out, but still). It was funny how a defender simply bounced off Kemo, and how it took three Ravens to take him down. Good athleticism too to grab the ball and take it back to the line of scrimmage!
A glimpse into the future. By virtue of that win, the Steelers are in a good spot to run to the AFCN championship. The Steelers can even afford one loss to a non-division team (Jets or Panthers) and still get the crown even if Baltimore wins out (due to better division record). The bar is set high, however, and we want a first round bye now, especially with all the injuries. Much in that regard will depend on MNF game betwee Patriots and Jets.
Next week we'll host a very dangerous opponent. The Bengals are better than 2-10. We have to be very careful not to overlook Cincy ahead of the Jets. That is especially true with all the injuries that we sufferred. Each single one is big, including Adams, Miller and Daniel Sepulveda.
But all summed up, I'm pretty happy this morning!