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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Francisco 49ers: Offensive MVP

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Honestly, the whole team deserved a game ball for yesterday's effort. We were efficient and purposeful in all three areas of the game, and really, no one player stood out above the rest. But, let's hand out some 'awards' anyway, starting with this week's Offensive MVP.

This was a tough one for me. I wanted to give it to the offensive line for paving the way for Willie Parker's 3rd straight 100-yard performance. Sean Mahan impressed me yesterday, getting to the second level of defenders on several of the draw plays we ran for Willie. Faneca was his usualy mauling self in the run game, and our tackles did a decent job keeping Big Ben on his feet. However, I think we can still be a bit better in pass protection. Ben was only sacked twice yesterday, but he had to scramble and make guys miss on multiple other occasions. It's not alarming yet - SF's defense did do a good job getting off the ball quickly with their rushing lineman - but it's still an area where we can improve.

Instead, I'm giving the offensive gameball to Willie Parker. Parker ran for 123 yards on 24 carries. Similar to last week, his longest run was only 29 yards, meaning he continues to rack up the tough, between-the-tackles type of yards. And that's what I was most impressed about. Willie finds a way to get 4 yards when there may only be 2 available. That doesn't sound that important, but it is. Reggie Bush for example, often puts his team in 2nd and 3rd-and long situations because he's not yet learned to put his head down, dive forward, and settle for the 3-5 yard gain. Willie seems to have that in spades. And when a hole does open up, he's through it remarkably fast. We always hear about the best runners having the patience to wait for holes to develop. What we don't hear is that it takes an unbelievable first step and initial burst of speed to go from 70% (while you're waiting for the hole to open) to 100 % (needed to get through the hole before it quickly closes down).

I'm more and more convinced that Willie Parker is a special every-down talent, not just a home-run hitter capable of ripping off a big play here and there. We can hitch our wagon to him and let him work. Thus far we have, and with astounding success. Parker now leads the NFL in rushing yards , and has rushed for 100+ yards in 7 of his last 8 games. For this game, and through three weeks, Willie Parker has most certainly been our Offensive MVP.