If we're going to bang on players of our favorite sports franchise when they have shortcomings, we must lift them up with cheers of admiration and praise when they come to compete and perform at a high level. This is still a work in progress, no doubt, but after improving demonstrably last week against Baltimore, the Steelers' offensive line turned in their best performance since Week 1 against Houston.
In the first half, Ben had ALL day to throw the ball for the most part. He took advantage, throwing for nearly 250 yards in the first two quarters. Had we not thrown that pick-6, we might have found ourselves up even more at halftime. We were really clicking to start the game. Darnell Stapleton played well in his first start, Justin Hartiwg probably had his finest game as a Steeler, Chris K was neither noticably good nor bad, and Marvel Smith was fairly solid until he got injured.
We did surrender three sacks and Big Ben likely kept that number from being higher with his heroics late in the game, so there are still some concerns, particularly when you remember that the Jags only had 5 sacks entering the game. However, at least one of those sacks that I can remember distinctly was on Ben. He had every chance in the world to throw it over the head of his WR out bounds and just held onto it. We all know we don't have a world class line, but if they can perform like they did tonight against a hungry Jags team at home, we have to feel good about them and our chances as a team. This line won't give you mammoth running lanes or all day to throw, at least not consistently, but it can give you just enough if you have an offensive scheme that accounts for that reality. I thought Arians did a great job, finally, calling quicker developing plays.
Trai Essex sure struggled in place of Marvel Smith. And this wasn't Willie Colon's finest game, even if it wasn't his worst. Multiple false starts and holding penalties disrupted the flow of the offense at times. I am so ecstatic and proud of the job we did eeking out tough yards in the running game, but almost none of them came up the gut. We still are having problems winning the point of attack in the A and B gaps.
Still, it's time to lose all the excessive derogatory commentary about the play of the line. At least until they deserve such frustration from the peanut gallery once more. The last two weeks have been much, MUCH better. It's not easy to throw up 250 yards in the air in one half in this league...on the road. We did, and it started with the time we gave Big Ben (as well as better play calling, which we'll get to). We'll see what Marvel Smith's deal is, but it's a safe guess to think that he'll be fine after this much needed BYE week.
This is our offensive line thread.