Well, we're 3-0 for the first time since 1992, the first year of the Bill Cowher era. Even though we won by 3 TDs 37-16, I didn't think we played all that well. At times, we looked great on defense and offense; at others, we looked as if we could still improve significantly. The following quote from Tomlin, which datruth mentioned as well, was very important and insightful:
That's right. It's not always going to be as easy and pretty as it was in Weeks 1 and 2. Big Ben won't always throw for 250+ yards and multiple TDs; Hines Ward may only catch one pass for a measley 2 yards like yesterday. None of that matters if we win, and that's what Tomlin is trying to hammer home to his troops. Next week we get Arizona and either Matt Leinart or Kurt Warner. Leinart struggled mightily yesterday and was pulled in favor of the veteran. Warner filled in admirably, but boy oh boy would I be excited to see LeBeau get after the one-time MVP. If it's Leinart, he better forget about his putrid performance immediately.
Here's a few random thoughts from the game before moving onto positional breakdowns:
*Big Ben looks great in the pocket. I still think he can get rid of the ball a bit quicker, but he seems to have returned to pre-accident form when he was so good at making the first guy miss, keeping his eyes downfield, and making something happen. His 18-yard 1st down scamper was indicative of just how far he's come physically and mentally from a year ago.
*Roethlisberger also seems to be more content throwing the ball away and not forcing anything. 13-of-20 for 160 yards are pedestrian numbers, but I'll take a 65% completion percentage and 0 turnovers any day of the week. A couple of Ben's throws were beautiful as well. The touch pass to Heath Miller over the out-stretched arms of a SF LB comes to mind; as does a laser he threw to Santonio for a key first down in the 2nd half.
*I say it several times a year, but I'm sure glad we have Charlie Batch on our sidelines. What a valuable member of the team considering he rarely if ever plays. Big Ben and him have a great rapport, and to his credit, Roeth seems to listen to what Batch has to say as he comes off the field. No pretense, no ego, no sulking from a man who has been a starter in this league. Just a solid teamate who has helped Big Ben tremendously this past year and a half.
*Speaking of non-egos, does anybody think Plaxico, T.O., or any other big-name #1 WRs would quietly bite his tongue about a limited offensive role like Hines Ward has. Ward caught only one pass for 2 yards yesterday, and has only 9 catches through 3 games. We learned recently that he's been hurt, so it may be some time before Ward becomes an integral part of this offense again, but don't expect Ward to complain about it.
*What a game for Heath Miller! 4 catches for 82 yards - all of them critical. We're going to need his production over the course of the next month as Hines recovers from a bone bruise.
*Jeff Reed continues to be a man on a mission. It's easy to poke fun of Reed - he just looks goofy out there and you just know he's got some quirks to his personality, but I've sure been impressed with his focus thus far. Perfect on FGs and XPs. It's been easy for the Steelers so far, but you better believe there will be a game or two that rests on the right leg of Jeff Reed. I'm glad he's being in the moment for all these early season kicks, even if they have not yet had any practical consequence on the games' outcomes.
*23 Steelers recorded a tackle yesterday! Compare that with 16 49ers who made a play on special teams or defense. What does that mean? Well, it means we have some depth on that side of the ball. It also means we're swarming to the football, and not relying too much on our safetys for run support. Finally, it means Tomlin and LeBeau are doing a good job keeping everybody interested and involved. Take Nick Eason for example. A relative nobody on this team, yet he was inserted on several occasions, and I distinctly remember him busting his butt chasing Frank Gore down the field one play even though there was little to no chance of him catching him. We've avoided the injury bug for the most part this year, but if/when the time does come that reserves are to be called upon, I'm glad that everybody's gotten some in-game experience this first three weeks. More wise coaching from Tomlin % Co.
*More to come on the play of our defense, our offensive strategy, as well as a look around the league. Keep them towels twirling. It's exciting times in Steeler land!