Some good, some bad, take them both, and there you have the Steelers third straight win. Granted, it was probably the worst opponent the Steelers have faced yet, and Big Play Ben overrode Game Management Ben. He made it happen though, despite an offensive line that threw an interesting twist; after run-blocking well in their last two games, they collapsed. After a great first half in pass protection, they fell out of sync.
Some in-game thoughts and observations:
- TE Heath Miller was a big part of this game plan, and most of it was in isolation of former Steeler Clark Haggans. He could have had an even bigger game if not for a few protection SNAFUs.
- NT Steve McLendon got hooked a few times early, but settled down and played ok. The real test is in the next two weeks. Arizona's offensive line is struggling and doesn't provide much competition.
- OLB Lawrence Timmons' pressure led to FS Ryan Clark's interception. It'll probably be recorded as a drop by TE Rob Housler, but QB Kevin Kolb would not have thrown that pass had Timmons not been in his grill. He was blanketed by ILB James Farrior.
- Before the tar is officially boiling and the mob goes after RB Rashard Mendenhall, the holes are just not there consistently. Mendenhall's carries: -5 (blown up), -2 (blown up, Arizona penalty), 4, 6, 0 (blown up), 6 (blown up), 1 (blown up), 4, 10 (incidentally, this is the one run he bounced outside when he didn't have to), 2 (blown up), 6, and 2 (slipped on cutback). That's 12 carries, 11 if you take the penalty out, five of them had defenders well into the backfield when he got the ball. Six carries for 32 yards when the offensive line did not allow a defender deep into the backfield. Incidentally, Isaac Redman had five carries for 15 yards if you take away his 14-yard run in garbage time.
- Wow, Joey Porter sighting. Strange...
- SS Troy Polamalu would have scored on that play. I think he thought the same thing, thus the reason he forgot to catch the ball.
- It could have been QB Ben Roethlisberger's finest overall performance. And yet, he's still completing about 1 in 3 of his deep passes. He certainly tried to improve that, Wallace would have had 400 yards receiving if he came down with everything Ben threw to him.
- It almost makes you feel bad, watching veteran and super-stud Adrian Wilson scream at the deep secondary to play back when he read Wallace's deep pattern before the snap. Richard Marshall was like one of the name tagless drones in Austin Powers 2. He had no chance. What's worse, FS Rashad Johnson got bailed out of responsibility by Dan Dierdorf, where, in reality, he failed to recognize the play and didn't provide Marshall with any kind of help. It's hard to fathom what people don't understand about this; Mike Wallace is going to go deep, especially if he goes in motion.
- WR/PR Antonio Brown is going to return a punt for a score before the year is out. Mark that down. Second in the NFL with five returns of 20 yards or more.
- Been saying this all year, when this offense is at its best, the individual receiving totals will go something like 100+, 70, 50, 40, 25. Wallace 118, Brown 102, Miller 59, Sanders 46, Ward 21.
- If I was at the post-game presser, I probably would have asked Coach Whiz what it's like to know his team traded a second-round pick and a nickel corner for Derek Anderson 2.0.
- Two bubble screens to Brown, one in the first quarter, one in the third, both went for first downs. Are you paying attention, New England? You're gonna have a tough time stopping that. First one could be Play of the Game...
- Speaking of special teams...the Steelers have allowed 36 punt return yards. This season. All seven games.