PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 18: Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with an intercepted pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the preseason game on August 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Thanks to my wonderful girlfriend who surprised me by buying two tickets from my boss, I had an unexpected, last-minute opportunity to go watch the Pittsburgh Steelers' second preseason game Thursday night against the Eagles. She unfortunately couldn't join me, so I took my 10-year old cousin to Heinz Field instead.
The kid doesn't talk very much, so it was kind of like I was Harry Doyle from Major League, and he was the quiet color-analyst who didn't offer much commentary.
After tonight, I will no longer be jealous of my boss for having season tickets. His seats are located in the very last row of the stadium......literally. We were located right behind the section 539 sign, near the very top of Heinz Field. I was out-of-breath by the time I reached my seat. Either I'm out-of-shape or Mike Tomlin is missing the boat on player-conditioning drills. He should have his men run up and down section 539. After they do that a few times, those wind sprints in training camp would seem harmless.
Fortunately, I had my trustly binoculars and put them to good-use by isolating on a few players.
A few observations on the players that I focused on:
-Jonathon Scott went out with an injury on the very first play, so rookie Marcus Gilbert was immediately thrust-into action. Now, I'm no scout, but I do know that when a left tackle picked in the 2nd round by the Pittsburgh Steelers comes into play early in a preseason game, you better watch him. Gilbert wasn't in there that long, but from what I saw of him, he didn't look lost and didn't get overpowered.
-I focused a lot of my attention on Tony Hills and his start at guard. He did okay for himself. I do not have a trained eye for these sorts of things, but he seemed to hold his own at both guard and left tackle.
-I focused my attention on Keenan Lewis most of the night, and I have to say, he really impressed me with his coverage ability. He gave up a couple of underneath plays for first downs, but that happens in a Dick Lebeau defense. Ironically enough, I missed out on the Lewis interception late in the first-half when I decided to go buy my little cousin some nachos and a Coke.
Bonus observation: Heinz Field needs more ATM's or maybe the ability for fans to use their debit/credit cards when purchasing refreshments (I also missed-out on Troy's interception).
Another bonus observation: The fans waiting in-line for the ATM couldn't mock Vince Young's "Dream Team" comment enough. I get the feeling the Eagles are in for a long year if they don't live up to the hype.
-Jonathon Dwyer looked really good tonight.
Bonus bonus bonus observation: I'm very talented. After I purchased my food, I navigated my way back up section 539 carrying a huge container of nachos, two Cokes and a big pretzel. I had some near-misses, but I didn't spill a drop. Perhaps, I should be the conditioning coach for the Steelers future 539 running drill.
-At one point, the fans were so frustrated with all of the touchbacks, they even booed when the Steelers kicker boomed a kickoff out of the end zone. However, I don't think it was an anti-Steelers kicker boo, it was more of a "screw the NFL for moving kickoffs up to the 35 yard-line" boo.
That's about all I have for my observations of tonight's game. The Steelers looked really crisp and fluid in all phases. I heard rumors that Mike Tomlin wasn't very happy with his team's performance in the first preseason affair against the Redskins last Friday, and if that was the case, his charges came out firing on all-cylinders tonight, jumping out to a 24-0 lead on the way to a 24-14 victory.
Great performance by the Pittsburgh Steelers and an expected good time had by yours truly.