What many Steelers fans have been asking for (no, not a double egg and cheese from Primanti’s) arrived Thursday night at Heinz Field in front of a national TV audience. The team, who many said could score at will this year, did just that, while also playing a punishing brand of defense.
It’s still not Christmas yet, but for fans of the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers it sure felt like the fat man in the red suit came to town Thursday as the black-and-gold rung up a 40-spot on AFC South Division leader. Oh, and let’s not forget they also took the ball away four times, ending the Titans’ winning streak at four games in the process.
By way of their 40-17 victory, the Pittsburgh Steelers showed off their muscles, flexing them all game long. From an opening, no-huddle drive that ended in a touchdown, to the defense stepping in front of four Marcus Mariota passes, this win was by far the most convincing one of the season. The Steelers never trailed and controlled the game from the opening gun.
The talk since the season began was of when they would get their act together on offense. From the slow start of Le’Veon Bell to the very average play of Ben Roethlisberger (and let’s not even go there about Martavis Bryant), it’s been a wait-and-see approach regarding this offense, and why it hasn’t produced points, and a lot of them.
The wait, at least for one night, is over.
It was quite a show Ben and the offense put on. Roethlisberger hit on 30 of 45 passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns, three to his favorite target, Antonio Brown. Brown showed once again why he’s the best at his craft, snaring a ball with one hand and trapping it to his helmet for the game’s final touchdown. In sixty minutes of play, AB doubled his TD total for the season.
For Roethlisberger, however, this game had to feel good. And why not, he’s been outstanding in prime-time games at Heinz Field throughout his entire career, raising his mark to 19-3, including a 6-0 mark on Thursday night. He even ran the ball once for 10-yards, lumbering towards the end-zone.
And once again, the pillar of this team has been the steady, ferocious play of its defense all season long. The four interceptions were just part of the show, as the club sacked Mariota on five occasions. Two of those came from Cam Heyward, who in his seventh year is playing the best football of his career. And if you don’t believe me, just ask him.
“I do think I’m having a great year,” said Heyward after the game. “I just want to keep doing it. There’s still a lot of football to play. The defense allows me to do it and the guys are counting on me to do it.”
And they have, and will, keep doing just that. You can see the confidence in how this defense plays. That swagger as the cool kids say. This team has it on that side of the ball. For 60 minutes, the offense played the same way. It’s a good feeling to have. Let’s hope we see more of it in the final six weeks of the regular season.