PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Brett Keisel #99 of the Pittsburgh Steelers signals to the crowd during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 4, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
I wonder if the same segment of the fanbase that was disappointed by last week's win will espouse a similar level of enthusiasm with the Pittsburgh Steelers' 35-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon? I'd hope so. But really, there's no reason to ride the emotional roller coaster as Mike Tomlin might say for the simple reason that it should be crystal clear by now that this year's Steelers team has what it takes to win their seventh Super Bowl this season. Will it happen? Who knows, they'll have to catch a few breaks and play extremely well come playoff time. But the Steelers proved before their bye week that they are going to be right there come the postseason.
In Week 13, the Steelers did a little bit of everything to dismantle Cincinnati and pad their lead in the AFC Wild Card race. A couple quick bullet points to start the conversation in our celebration thread:
- The Steelers defense limited Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense to 232 yards and 7 points. Outside of their one ten-play, 80-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, Dalton and the Bengals could muster nothing really.
- Add three sacks to James Harrison's season total. No. 92 now has 8 sacks in 8 games played this season. Harrison's three sacks amazingly came within the span of 11 snaps.
- Big Ben was solid, completing 15-of-23 passes for 176 yards and 2 TDs. When he's making smart decisions with the football, the Steelers are awfully tough to beat.
- I wrote Saturday night that Rashard Mendenhall was my fantasy sleeper for this week. Mendenhall rushed the ball with conviction and attitude, and he found the end zone twice in his 16 carries. He finished with 60 yards on the afternoon, which was supplemented by Isaac Redman's 50 rushing yards for a team total of 136 on 33 carries. Great -- simple, but great -- game plan by Bruce Arians.
- Finally, outside of Shaun Suisham's missed field goal attempt, the third phase of the game -- special teams -- was equally dominant for Pittsburgh. Curtis Brown made several outstanding plays on coverage units, Cameron Heyward blocked a field goal attempt, and Antonio Brown took a punt 60 yards to the house for the team's first punt return TD since 2007.
Much more soon. Go Steelers!