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On the Bright Side....

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Sunday's loss against the Bengals was certainly disappointing, and there are undoubtedly some areas of concern that need to be addressed (ahem turnovers and special teams), but there were also plenty of positives to be taken from this game.

The Running Game...

After last Monday's shoddy offensive effort against Jacksonville, it was a welcome sight to see the offensive line consistently open up running lanes. It didn't take long either for the line to find its rhythm. We marched down the field on our first offensive series largely through the air, but on our second offensive series, Willie Parker had four runs of five yards or more.

For the day, Parker finished with 133 yards on 31 carries. Considering his longest run of the day was 26 yards, it was a steady, workman-like performance. There was open space on the right side of the line all day. Jeff Hartings, Kendall Simmons, and Max Starks all had great games opening up holes, and Parker did a great job cutting back for extra yardage. If we continue to run the ball as effectively as we did against Cincinnati, we should continue to be out in front of our opponents in the second half.

Pass Protection....

The offensive line also had a solid day in pass protection. It's actually discouraging Roethlisberger made as many mistakes as he did given the fact that he was under no real duress all afternoon. Ben was sacked three times, but one of those came late during the two-minute drill when we were in obvious pass situations. The OL set the tone on the very first drive of the game, giving Big Ben boatloads of time to make the necessary progressions and throws. Which he did. In fact, it was probably his best series of the game. If the line continues to give Ben as much time and space to maneuver, he'll work out the kinks and will eliminate the costly mistakes.

Run Defense...

The Bengals made every effort in the world to establish the run against the Steelers. They were largely unsuccessful. Rudi Johnson, fresh off his 150+ yard outing last week, was held to just 47 yards on 19 carries. Take away backup Kenny Watson's 3 carries for 35 yards and we really shut them down. Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith clogged up holes all day, and the linebackers and secondary did a good job in clean up duty behind them. How good? Johnson's longest run of the day was 8 yards!

Let's review then...we outplayed Cincy in three of the most important facets of the game: running the ball, protecting the QB, and stopping the run. And we lost. As much as that stings, there's no denying that we will be just fine if we can continue to win those critical components of the football game. That is, if we do something about the turnovers.