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8 takeaways from Steelers’ triumphant road victory in Baltimore

With the Steelers winning their fourth game in a row, it’s time to see what we can extract from their performance.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have done it again. They’ve started out terribly, but have stormed back after their first four games. In every single must-win game they’ve faced this season, they’ve risen to the occasion and won. They’ve improved on both sides of the ball dramatically and finally deserve to be viewed as one of the best teams in the AFC. Can they compete with those top-level teams? Thursday night will be a big test to see if they can indeed compete with upper-echelon teams.

Here are eight takeaways from this big win over the Ravens:

Joshua Dobbs > Landry Jones

I really don’t have to say much about Dobbs today. He made an absolutely huge throw and called an audible on it too. That not only was a gutsy play-call, but a frozen rope perfectly placed by Dobbs. He’s a young kid who I believe really has some nice potential to grow into far more than a backup.

Landry Jones is who he is. A decent backup who cannot become anything more than that. Dobbs, on the other hand, oozes potential and could possibly emerge as the heir to the Steelers’ QB position. Jones was the riskier cut due to the need to win now, but Dobbs was a vote for the future, and the Steelers stuck by that brilliantly.

Just a clutch play by Dobbs.

The refs were terrible

I can’t say enough about how bad they were. From the “fumble” or “interception” at the end of the half, which was not even close and cost the Steelers 10 seconds, to the egregiously bad pass-interference calls — they called everything that shouldn’t have been called and didn’t call the things that should be called.

They missed a few holds on Cam Heyward throughout the game, and Bud Dupree was being held all day. You want to know why Bud wasn’t seen as much as you thought he would against a guy who struggles against speed rushers — because he was being held and it was never called.

It was the Steelers against the refs on Sunday.

Mike Hilton needs to get paid — NOW

I’m not wrong in saying Hilton is the best run-defending nickel-CB in the league. And he’s pretty darned good in coverage too. No doubt, if not for Chris Harris Jr., Hilton would be the best slot-CB in the NFL. He’s never beaten and he makes an impact in all areas of the field.

I said in a film room last week how the Steelers use him much like a small LB, and that rings true. Hilton is essential to this team and he deserves to be paid accordingly. I hope he gets his payday because he’s simply amazing for this team.

Get Sean Davis paid too

The biggest game-changer in the secondary isn’t Joe Haden but Sean Davis. We knew Haden could be a lock-down guy and he’s been just that, but Davis had been an uncertainty at a position where the Steelers haven’t had a true centerfielder since Troy Polamalu.

Davis is that guy. He’s been fantastic in coverage and has tackled well too. With him now gaining confidence, he’s flying around the field and showing, not only his sound self with great tackling ability, but also his aggressive self. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get an INT or two in the next few weeks. Davis is what you would call, ascending.

Time for him to get him paid, too.

Terrell Edmunds has had a rough go of things, but he’s progressing

I love Tom Bradley so far. Look what he’s done to reinvigorate Joe Haden, transform Sean Davis, and even have Hilton elevate his level of play.

But his best work presently is going on with rookie Terrell Edmunds. Edmunds hasn’t been good to start the season, but he’s shown the progression and flashes you want to see from a raw prospect. He’s been showing more and more ball skills, and his angles are slowly but steadily improving.

Edmunds still needs to learn the nuances of the position, but you can already see Bradley is working his magic here. So far, I like the hire. Now, if he can just turn Artie Burns around.

James Washington is finally flashing

Did Washington have a great game? No. But I could see his progression from the games prior to the bye-week.

Washington looks far smoother and finally seems to have a semblance of timing with Roethlisberger. His releases have gotten much better, and he was open more than he was targeted today. I’m looking forward to the all-22 on Washington, as you could see him finally use his hands to get press off of him.

It’s been small steps for Washington, but don’t worry, he’ll come along. Washington will be the answer at WR3.

Don’t look now, but Bud Dupree might be turning a corner

Both literally, because he’s finally developing, and figuratively because, well, this is easily his best season.

Is Dupree just one of those late bloomers? I have no clue, but it’s undeniable that he’s having a good season. Dupree has been average in some games, but his bend was always there, now he’s finding out how to use his hands to leverage his speed in getting around the edge. He’s become so much more disciplined too, and doesn’t get run up the arc.

The biggest difference is his pre-snap mind. He clearly has a plan and goes with it. He needs to use his hands to win inside now and to find more explosiveness on his first step — but I like where Dupree is going. Dupree has already exceeded his 2017 “pressures” total of 40, and already has eight QB hits, which means he’s easily on pace for a career high. There might be some additional upside left in him.

Jesse James can burn CBs

Prayers to Brandon Carr — I don’t know how you get burnt by Jesse James, especially when he’s as slow as he is, but this double-move has Carr biting. So Jesse James deserves to be heavily crowned in all areas.