It's been 7 Halloweens since the last time we saw the Steelers put together such a solid performance against a Tom Brady-led team, and it was glorious. The Steelers put together what in my mind has been their best performance of this season, earning a satisfying victory over a team that has been a huge nemesis in the last few years. I'm sure there will be some amazing analysis about this game in the following days, so I won't get into that; instead, I'll just use this post to let out my feelings after this great game.
1.- We can do better
The final score doesn't tell the story, this was a blowout with a close score. The Steelers dominated every face of the game, except for Red Zone efficiency. The offensive gameplan was almost perfect, the Steelers moved the ball almost at will against the Pats defense, particularly the secondary. Ben managed the no huddle so masterfully, you'd think that was Jim Kelly playing. He spread the ball around for everyone (9 different receivers) and did a great job overall. BUT, too many times the Steelers settled for FGs, this game should have been over at the start of the 4th quarter. Poor red zone play caused this game to go from potentially 38-17 to 25-17, quite a difference. Good thing though, the Steelers get to make corrections with a W on the board.
2-. I'm officially sold on our secondary's improvement
You can't say enough about the D's performance. They got pressure on Brady, they covered everyone, they stopped the run and held the league's best offense to just 17 points, 213 total yards and only 170 passing. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all had been calling for man-coverage against the Pats, they did that and the CB's responded, none of NE's receivers was a factor today, and even their TE's were kept in check. Impressive performance.
3.- Biggest game still coming up
With NE dominating the Steelers for so long, a victory like this is definitely huge. But let's not lose focus, my hope is that this win gives us confidence and momentum for the 2nd half of the schedule, but at this point it only gives us a tie-breaker over NE. The most important game is next week vs Baltimore. If we lose that game, the Ravens have a season sweep over us, which equals to a 2 game lead in the division. Expecting the Pats to win their division, our tie breaker would be useless. We absolutely MUST win this game to get in position for a division title. Woodley's injury makes me nervous, but like Tomlin says, The standard is the standard
4.- January 23rd 2005
If that date doesn't jump out to you, it might be because you've been trying to forget it ever since. That's the date of the 2004 AFC Championship game, when we watched the Patriots celebrate on Heinz Field after having dominated them on October 31st 2004. We must remember, there was no trophy presentation after today's game, there won't be one after next week's game either. If we happen to meet again in January, this game will not mean a thing (except maybe Homefield advantage). Let's not lose focus of the true magnitude of this game. It's only week 8.
I'm really not trying to be a downer, I'm as happy as everyone after this game, I just needed to get this out of my chest. GO STEELERS!!