Wow! I came into the game expecting a win, but this was impressive. The Steelers beat the Bucs in all aspects of the game and right now look like one of the most dominant teams in the NFL.
Boy did Uncle Chuck come to play today! Right after his first pic, I thought it might be another one of those knock-down-drag-em-out type of 10-6 games, but things sure changed in a hurry. Chuck's arm looked strong as he had plenty of zip on his passes...he was throwing bullets out there! He even got his legs going and had a nice run and was often able to scramble to avoid pressure. He certainly didn't look 35-36. Shame he couldn't have hooked up with DJ on that pass in 2nd half our he would've had career best 4TDs. This sets up an interesting situation in coming weeks. First, you would think he surely would have to be the starter next week in the big game against BALT. Then, when Ben comes back, both Batch and Leftwich will still both be around with Dixon out. However, with Dixon looking shaky even when healthy, the best bet may be to put him on the IR and go with Chuck and Lefty as backups the rest of the season.
It almost seemed like every other play Mendy was going to break it and take it to the house. He didn't but he got the early TD and racked up over 140 yds averaging over 7 per carry. Don't be surprised if you see him in contention for the AFC rushing title as the season progresses. Redman again looked solid in short yardage, and he also looked like he was going to break one for a long gainer a couple of times. Memo looked shaky to start when he dropped the early 3rd down pass. He got a few more touches later on, but as was the case in the first two weeks, he wasn't much of a factor.
Ok, so in my previous posts, I've been saying they need to go more deep to Wallace at least a couple of times a games to open things up. Well, Chuck did, and you saw what happened. Yes, Wallace may not be the best route runner (looked like he didn't finish off his route on the pic in the 1st qtr), but he's almost unstoppable on the fly pattern if the QB can get the ball to him. I'd be surprised if he finishes the year with less than 10 TDs. Hines was Hines as usual and won the battle of old guys against Ronde Barber...good to see him get a TD. El only got one pass, but at least it got a 1st down. Heath was Heath and even though he only got a couple of catches, he did everything asked of him as usual. I thought DJ blocked better today and almost even caught a TD (the pass was a bit late).
Another dominating game at the line of scrimmage for this unit. They were clearly able to push the Bucs DL all over the field which made things easy for Mendy and Redman. Also, they kept Chuck virtually untouched (no sacks). The OL rotation was used again to keep the guys fresh in the heat, and it worked again. Bronco Legursky and Foster did a nice job filling in for Essex. Starks did fine coming back from injury, and stabilized LT after a last week's tough go with Hills and Scott. Pouncey again looks more like a vet than a rookie. Overall great job from a unit that in preseason looked very suspect.
Same as OL, another dominating game at the line of scrimmage. The only time the Bucs got any big runs, they were called back due to holding. The DL rotation is working. How about Big Keis rumbling 79 yds. on a pic 6? You knew he was going all the way as soon as he caught it. Ziggy almost did that when he tipped the screen pass. Eason got a sack. The only thing that worried me was both Big Snack Hampton and Hokey Pokey looked tired at times even with the rotation. We might see McClendon activated again from the PS at some point.
More nasty again today from these guys. Timmons will be in the Pro Bowl this year. Woodley almost had his 2nd pic in as many weeks (is he our new cover LB? lol). Mr. Nasty himself James Harrison I think scared Mike Williams into short arming the pass that Keisel picked off, and even though he didn't have a sack he pressured the QB all day. Foote did a good job spelling Farrior. Fox was active in garbage time. Even Worlids got in on the action with his first NFL sack (with some help from fellow rookie Stevenson).
Like the OL, this unit looked (other than Troy) like the weak link in preseason, but they've held up strong so far. Troy flew around all over the field early, and how about his catch on the sidelines when he was out of the game? Smart move pulling him out in the blowout. I like Gay as the nickel corner that blitzes (he had a nice sack). I said that last year, he's not a starter but he always seems to do well rushing the QB. Ike Taylor dropped another INT, but that's who he is...I just hope he doesn't drop one next week against BALT if it's a close game. I even saw Madison out there in coverage in the 4th QTR. So far so good with this year, let's just pray that the Samoan Jesus stays healthy all year.
No fireworks today like last week with Brown's TD, but a solid effort today in the kicking, coverage, and return games today. Compared to last year, any game they go without giving up a TD or big return is a nice thing. I still would like to see Brown used more as a PR, because I think he could break one, but for now El is safe and that works.
Tomlin looks like Tomlin again, the guy who lead us to the SB two years ago. He's made it clear this is his team and BA is in the passenger seat. That being said, it was a nice mix of run and pass today which is something I think Batch gives them that Dixon didn't...a full playbook. But, football is what we've seen so far this year...win at the line on both sides and play it smart, take chances when you need to, don't take risks when you don't need to. Kugler has done a nice job with the OL and that fact that they are able to use 9 different guys and still dominate is a testament to him.
Just had to drop a plug for Gus Johnson. He's one of my favorites as he always brings excitement to the game...Mendenhall! Down the SIDELINES!
So now we're 3-0 and will hand Ben (at worst) a winning record when he comes back, if not a perfect record. Big game next week against the Ravens for first place. Flacco looked better today against Cleveland, so the secondary will be tested, but if our O plays like it did today, I don't think they can stop us. Here we go 4-and-0!