Hold the phone on the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers being down and out. Not quite. Pittsburgh looked every bit the defending AFC champions on Sunday, as they executed well in all three phases of the game for a 38-17 thrashing of the Tennessee Titans.
To begin the conversation, here's a few quick-hitting reactions about the game. Of course, we'll delver in much deeper later today and throughout the early parts of this coming week.
- What can you say about Ben Roethlisberger? Not much other than what we already know as loyal Steelers fans -- this guy is an incredible competitor. Dealing with pain in his left foot, Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes on the afternoon. Here was his final line: 24-of-34 for 228 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT. Had Roethlisberger not thrown an arrant pick before halftime, Big Ben's stats would have been nearly perfect. Awesome game for the Steelers quarterback.
- Congratulations to Max Starks for an outstanding 2011 debut. Much, much more on the play of the entire offensive line, but Starks was very sound in both pass protection and in the running game.
- Great game plan and play calling from Bruce Arians. I'd like to elaborate on this more extensively, but for now, let's just say that Arians again proved that he's capable of orchestrating a well-balanced, efficient and unpredictable offense.
- On defense, a tip of the cap to Chris Hoke, Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward, James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, Brett Keisel and Troy Polamalu for great games. In other words, most everybody on Dick LeBeau's defense stepped up their game.
- There really is no reason to be overly concerned about the Steelers rush defense. Tennessee rushed the ball 18 times for a mere 66 yards, 21 of which came on Chris Johnson's first rush of the game. Chris Hoke in particular deserves a special shout out for the fine work he did in place of the injured Casey Hampton.
- It was tough sledding for some of the day, but Isaac Redman was far more effective than his 49 yards might suggest. Jonathan Dwyer was the running back to surpass the 100 yard plateau actually thanks to his 76 yard scamper that led to a touchdown.
- In last week's podcast, Neal Coolong and I talked about the need for Roethlisberger to simplify things in the pocket and get the ball out more quickly on short patterns to his most trusted, veteran playmakers -- Hines Ward and Heath Miller. Roethlisberger did just that, and subsequently finished a game without getting battered and bruised for the first time this season. Ward finally had his number called more frequently, and the future Hall of Famer took advantage. No. 86 had 7 catches for 54 yards and 2 TDs.
Much, much more today and Monday about the Steelers' encouraging 38-17 win over the Titans.