Wonderful, another post from the great maryrose. I suppose being in attendance for a Steelers win over the Patriots gets everybody's juices flowing. Great stuff as always here. -Michael B.-
Style Points Do Matter
Pardon me for contradicting the great Tomlinator, but there is some substance to style points. I know a win is a win, you are what your record says you are, etc. etc. I get all that. But when your team is getting eaten alive on the offensive line of scrimmage, and your quarterback is being pounded into submission, you cannot help to think that in the long run, "this can't end well." When your defensive backfield is vulnerable to getting dinked and dunked into submission, and you know that in the end you will play against quarterbacks who have the ability to do just that, you cannot help to think that in the long run, "this can't end well." Yeah, maybe we can go 11-5 and get into the playoffs, but we all know the swords that will eventually kill us. The Steelers are showing us that maybe our Achilles Heel might not be so vulnerable anymore. This win was much more than an eight-point victory over a long-time nemesis. This win was an indicator that perhaps the team's two perceived weak spots, offensive line and defensive backfield, just might be good enough to beat anybody. Ben is getting time. His sacks are due to him trying to prolong the play, or the two whacko plays at the end of the game where they looked like they wanted to get sacked. And how about that defensive backfield? No longer playing 12 yards off the ball, those guys are much more effective. And this isn't about Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau finally seeing the light - this is about guys like Lewis and Gay and Mundy and Allen finally being smart enough and talented enough to play that style. All of this bodes well for the Steelers.
In My Office Please
If I was Art Rooney, and I like to pretend I am, I call Ryan Clark and Chris Kemo into my office at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. I tell them: "The next time you cost us 15 yards with sheer stupidity, you will be suspended for a game and lose that pay. And I am serious. I will do what it takes to get you to understand the severity of what your stupidity is costing us. Yeah great, when we win it all gets swept under the rug, but the time will come when we don't win, and you might be the reason. This spearing and launching at players out of bounds or down on the ground will not be tolerated. And don't tell me Ryan that the great plays you stonewall more than make up for the weekly bonehead. I don't buy that. Great players don't force that exchange. Be a great player, not an undisciplined one. Is there anything about what I am saying that isn't clear to you? Fine, have a nice day and please know that we love your passion and physicality, but when it crosses the line into stupidity, I will not tolerate it anymore."
There are dinosaurs out there who still cling to the notion that we must return to "Steeler Football," a smash-mouthed running game that pounds teams into submission. I understand the concept of football in bad weather, but the idea that the running game controls the clock more than the passing game is bunk. Ben threw 50 passes on Sunday, and what was the time of possession? Two to one. Brady ran exactly three plays in the first quarter. I am not minimizing the need to run when you have to run. We need Mendy and Isaac and Mewelde to be a valuable part of this team. But for those who insist on the tradition of Steeler Football, I suggest you put that notion in a box with your Royal Typewriter and put it in the attic.
Steelers dominate first quarter and a half, but only up by 10. Ben throws that devastating pick and within a half minute, Brady scores to make the score 10-7. That could have damaged the psyche of the team and the entire season, but no. Ben answers with an 11-play drive that results in 7 points. That might be looked back upon as the most important drive of the regular season. No matter what happens, you need a short memory, and for Ben and the whole offense to react against the ghosts of Brady and Belichick, spoke volumes.
And the Last Shall be First
Once again the Steelers forced no turnovers Sunday. They have a total of three in eight games. Their team margin of -10 is the worst in the league, and yet their 6-2 record is the best. How many times have you heard coach-speak talk about winning the turnover battle? The Steelers have won exactly one turnover battle - a 1-0 victory over Arizona. Go figure.
From the Nitpick Department
It is true that the Steelers Young Money receiving corps is stepping up big time, and yes, we really didn't (gulp) need Hines Ward Sunday. But there were three passes that weren't caught that Hines would have caught, and I think this mini factoid went relatively unnoticed. Ben threw low three times, putting the ball where only his receivers can catch it and move the chains. Hines always goes to the ground and cradles the pass. Ben is used to that. Young Money, however, fancies themselves to pick the ball off their shoetops and keep running to glory. Hines doesn't care about glory. All three passes fell incompIete. I Hope Hines can use the tape as a teaching point this week in the film room as he continues to be a great leader on this team.
Most Insane Stat of the Game
Tom Brady had a higher quarterback rating than Ben Roethlisberger. I may never trust quarterback ratings again.
Most Unsung Stat of the Game
Daniel Sepulveda punted only one time - at the tail end of the game when Pittsburgh wanted to forego the field goal and pin New England back. If Tomlin takes a knee and tries a field goal, the Steelers do not punt in the game.
The Steelers drive down the field with the opening kick and take a 7-0 lead. Shawn Suisham promptly kicks the ball out-of-bounds, handing Brady the ball on the 40. The Pats go three-and-out, so no one noticed much. If Brady answers with 7 and the Steelers lose a close game, Suisham is also in my office at 8:00 a.m. There are mistakes that you can make that are understandable, and mistakes that are unacceptable. Kicking out-of-bounds against a team like New England is a bonehead. I look at it this way, if any NFL player (on my team) makes a mistake that my 15-year-old daughter (Maryrose) would not make, then I give that guy notice. Maryrose would not get cute and kick a ball out-of-bounds, especially with the new kickoff rule.
One More Suisham
It troubles me that with a first down on New England's 27-yard line, all we needed, with a 6-point lead was what, one yard? Two yards? No yards? Let Belichick use the two-minute warning and call his timeouts. A field goal ices that game. Tomlin had such little faith in Suisham, or in his running game, that Pittsburgh runs a couple mystery plays and ends up punting from their own 40-yard line. Maybe the Patriots bunched up the middle around Wilfork and Haynesworth and we couldn't just run the ball conventionally. How about three quarterback sneaks (to avoid losing yards) and letting Suisham kick a 43-yarder for the ice. If you don't trust that, then you need to look at your kicking situation. Something was weird about the way that sequence unfolded.