Some bullet point action to get the conversation going, just minutes after the Steelers delivered a time-consuming 4th quarter drive to edge the San Diego Chargers 11-10.
* He's baaaaaaaaaaaaack! Ben made about one or two mistakes all afternoon by my count. Both had to do with him holding the ball a bit too long on 3 step drops. In previous weeks, his errors were much more costly. Ben finished the day 31/41 for 308 yards, with no TDs and 0 INTs. His passes were unbelievably accurate and for most all of the second half, they were delivered at the right time. Perhaps his best sequence of the day was on our last possession. Facing 1st and 20 after (another!) holding call, Ben calmly found Hines for 8 yards. Then Spaeth for 6. Then, on 3rd and 6, with us not yet in FG range, Ben rolled left, then back right a step or two before delivering a perfectly placed dart to Hines Ward for the 1st down. Like I said, he's baaaaack. While we're at it, add to his league leading 24th come from behind victories in the 4th quarter since 2004. I hate guys who win lots of football games.
* More on this, but that last drive to win it?? 6:00 minutes plus. Gigantic 3rd down conversions. Nice mix and match of runs and passes. Solid time management, and exquisite decision making by Roethlisberger not to force things. And give some credit to the line too. They took over the game in the second half, particularly in the 4th quarter and on that drive.
* Speaking of winning football games. We've won 7 of them, to only 3 losses. There are still personnel and strategy issues to discuss and for the team to hopefully resolve, but yeah, thought I'd remind you: we have 7 wins. Most team's don't.
* Sheesh, we may have a hard time winning too many more if we are penalized 13 times for well over 100 yards again. There were some suspect calls to say the least, and there were a few mistakes made by our guys. It is a bit bizarre that we finished the day with just 13 penalties while San Diego was only flagged once. Really?
* Holy bojangles. If you didn't get to watch the game and see Troy Polamalu's first half interception, you need to make sure you catch the highlights. Somehow, someway. I literally have a next to impossible time thinking of how a defender could make a more incredible INT. Seriously, it was as incredible as you'll ever see. Hopefully a photo will be forthcoming later.
* What a game from Fast Willie Parker! Who else thought he was running with the same kind of edgy aggressiveness that helped him burst on to the scene earlier in his career? He pushed guys to the ground, fought for tough yards inside and outside, protected the football, and came oh so close to breaking one deep. He had to settle for a 25 carry, 115 yard performance instead. Get a load of this though: Parker's long of the day was 13 yards! What's that mean? He was consistent, and so was our offensive line. We got dominated down on the goal line but other than that, our Offensive Line had great success winning the line of scrimmage for most of the afternoon.
* Ladies and gentlemen - your 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers have finally discovered they have a hard running short yardage back! Welcome Gary Russell to the fold in a more prominent role! At least, let's hope.
* Who would you give the Defensive MVP of our team to? James Harrison? Troy Polamalu? Man, what a tough choice. Both should be considered legit candidates for DPOY in the league. All Harrison did was force a safety and pick off a Phillp Rivers pass near the red zone. All Troy did was make one of the more amazing plays I've ever seen, and again play great in both run and pass support. For the day, I'd give the defensive game ball to Harrison, if only because his INT was in a critical, critical moment of the game. They were on the move and could have made it 14-2 or at least 10-2 with points. Instead, we took it down for a FG before the half. HUGE swing there.
* Staying on the defensive side of the ball - props to Brett Keisel for an amazing performance. He just was everywhere today. Congratulations to Fernando Bryant as well for a mighty fine debut with the Steelers. Let's give some credit to our personnel people as well for that move as well. Insta-results as far as I'm concerned.
* We'll get into the negatives of this game, later, but for now we celebrate. That was fun. I couldn't watch at the end. We so needed a W and it would have just been crushing had we not pulled it out late. We did though and now find ourselves back in control in the AFC North.
And like I said to start, most importantly, our leader and franchise guy is BACK!