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Postgame Notebook: Thoughts and Ramblings on Steelers Week 10 Win Over Cincinnati

It certainly had its ups and downs. 

Up, first two offensive series. Down, next two offensive series. Up, Heath Miller's catch while getting stuck in the chest by a vicious hit. Down, Heath Miller bobbling a pass without a defender near him, bobbling it again and having it intercepted. Lots of good stuff to go over this week. 

  • With the 83rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select...Brandon Tate, wide receiver, North Carolina. Tate would be released from New England and wind up on the Bengals, where he's buried behind some talented young receivers. 
  • With the 84th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select...Mike Wallace, wide receiver, Mississippi. Not sure I could describe the direction of either of these franchises better than that. 
  • Do you ever stop and think of where this run defense would be without Troy Polamalu? He knifed through an otherwise dominant offensive line several times to make solo tackles. The Steelers were run on in this game, they were not dominated in it because of Polamalu. 
  • After two consecutive three-and-outs from Cincinnati, and two straight touchdown drives from the Steelers, I had little fear of Cincinnati. 
  • After Cincinnati outscored the Steelers 17-10 the rest of the way, most of it without A.J. Green and Leon Hall, I fear the Cincinnati Bengals
  • Nevermind Dalton and Green. Cincinnati's front seven: Domata Peko (26 years old), Geno Atkins (23), Michael Johnson (24), Robert Geathers (28), Manny Lawson (27), Rey Maualuga (24) and Thomas Howard (28). And that doesn't include DE Carlos Dunlap (22), probably the most physically gifted of all of them. 
  • I believe we are developing an unhealthy relationship with Antonio Brown. He's making so many big catches it's almost like we're expecting him to have the kind of impact he made Sunday each week. Four catches for 74 yards on that drive. And he's wide open on all of them! A few bad throws in there too. 
  • Ramon Foster replaced Doug Legursky at right guard mostly because he's bigger and more physical. I would have hated to see what Atkins would have done to Legursky then, because Foster got moved like he was on ice skates. 
  • Kind of a side rant, but to fully explain Roethlisberger's value, put him on the Lions, and move Matthew Stafford to the Steelers. Pittsburgh is probably below .500, and the Lions maybe have one loss, and are gearing up for an epic NFC Championship Game against Green Bay. I watched the Lions/Bears game and I saw Stafford face the same kind of pressure Roethlisberger did. Stafford threw four INTs and will probably pick up a $15,000 fine for pulling DB D.J. Moore down by the facemask. Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Cotchery was a thing of beauty, and his interception wasn't on him. 
  • Oh, and for all Bengals fans crying that he was over the line of scrimmage, the ref was literally staring intently at Roethlisberger when he threw the ball. No one watching CBS's yellow line (that's approximately a foot wide to scale) from home has a better view of it than he did. 
  • The Steelers were 5-wide on that play. Cotchery, Wallace, Brown, Miller and Mewelde Moore. No Hines Ward. Still suffering concussion-like symptoms, or officially taking a back seat? Let the speculation ensue. 
  • First play, Dalton to Gresham, who's covered by William Gay. Gay rips the ball out of Gresham's hands after a beautiful throw by Dalton. Easily the best game of his career, literally just a few game seconds after the worst drive of his career. Without question the hero of this game. 
  • At 6:01 of the first quarter, Wallace led the game with 31 rushing yards, and Mendenhall led the game with 26 receiving yards. Offensive versatility is nice to have, isn't it? 
  • Cotchery should have had three touchdown catches. The second came on the second drive, and if not for an errant pass from Roethlisberger, he would have had it. That's more of a familiarity thing than anything else. Against zone coverage, Cotchery found the soft spot, and "sat down" in it. Roethlisberger's pass was leading him, as if he was supposed to still be running. Against zone, though, the receiver will do what Cotchery did. Credit to Roethlisberger, though, an excellent play fake sucked the linebackers in, which allowed Cotchery to get open where he was. The third one was the penalty on Miller, who appeared to think the pass had already been completed behind him.
  • Mendenhall's first touchdown run was phenomenal. He developed a good head of steam behind the lead block from TE David Johnson, which he'd need. LG Chris Kemoeatu was starting to lose leverage against DT Pat Sims. Mendenhall collides with both of them, knocking them over but staying on his feet and falling into the end zone. Just a great power run. A lack of that is the reason the Steelers have struggled in the red zone as of late. 
  • Ok, who the hell is Andrew Hawkins? Wexell says he's Artrell Hawkins' younger brother. Interesting...Andrew must have been like three years old when Artrell played his rookie season. Anyway, that kid can play. 
  • Green's touchdown is not the last the Steelers will see of a big, playmaking receiver getting a jump-ball in the end zone on Ryan Clark and/or Polamalu. Pittsburgh will see Jonathan Baldwin after the bye, then Green again (assuming his injury isn't serious) and and St. Louis's Brandon Lloyd in Week 16. Polamalu and Clark just aren't aggressive when the ball is in the air, and they aren't moving laterally. Don't think that won't be exploited. 
  • The next time I see that stupid "Orakpo'ed" commercial, I swear I'm gonna "Harrison" the first person I see. 
  • Cincinnati ran so well from their unbalanced line, that has become the new stretch run - Steelers defensive kryptonite. Jason Worilds was erased from significance by either Bobbie Williams or Andre Smith on several running plays. 
  • Andrew Whitworth handled Harrison well most of the game as well. After a bit, the Steelers started sending Keisel at Whitworth, and stunted Harrison over the B gap. A nice piece of strategy, but plain and simple, the Bengals have an excellent offensive line. That's something that hasn't been stated enough in terms of the success of Dalton. I've never seen Casey Hampton pushed so far backward over the course of a game.
  • Roethlisberger was 0-for-3 on deep targets, and the scale of openness of the receivers went from "wide open" to "covered" to "blanketed." An underrated facet of this game, the pass he tried to force to Brown was not intercepted, and should have been. If it was, Cincinnati has the ball in Steelers territory with seven minutes left in the half. Is he just throwing some to keep the safeties honest? 
  • After the forced throw to Brown, Roethlisberger hits three consecutive third down passes: Miller for 8, Brown for 21 (after two consecutive sacks) and Brown for 15. Then it's Brown for 17 (on second down), the Miller penalty that nullified a touchdown and Brown for 21 (on 1st and 20). That set up Mendenhall's second touchdown run. Four catches for 74 yards on the same drive, three of them on Hall, one on S Chris Crocker. These are the kinds of things you think of when you win by one touchdown. 
  • Cincinnati's last four possessions: Punt, interception, punt interception. Dalton was 4-for-9 for 18 yards and two picks in the fourth quarter. Before we hail him as the next big thing in the NFL, let's realize the bar is set incredibly low. The Bengals defense is outstanding, their passer is not. 
  • It's a great time for a bye week. Overall, some ups and some downs over the first 10 weeks, which is exactly the same as every other contender in the AFC. Since Baltimore is collectively in for surgery today to remove their hands from their throats, Houston has taken over the Media Darling position, with New England probably landing in second place after their drubbing of the hype-fueled Jets. Pittsburgh is comfortably off the radar, with a week to rest before traveling to Kansas City to take on the bi-polar Chiefs (that game has been locked in for Sunday Night). Then it's the Bengals back at Heinz.