They say waiting is the hardest part, or at least that's what Tom Petty wrote. I tend to get those things mixed up as I've gotten older. Yes, waiting for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense to wake up and explode on NFL opponents had become sort of a hobby for many fans of the Black-and-gold this year.
This offense blessed with a Hall of Fame quarterback, the best wide receiver and running back in the league, plus a complement of players around them—not to mention an offensive line that entered the year healthy and proven—was doing everything but dominating.
Fans everywhere were gearing up for regular 30- to 40-point weeks. People had their chiropractors on speed-dial for the neck adjustments that were going to be needed when watching this offense zip up and down NFL fields.
Funny how things work, isn't it?
In the club’s first-seven weeks of play, it never once hit the 30-point mark. In fact, the Steelers didn't hit 30 points or more until a few weeks ago, trouncing Tennessee 40-17 in a Thursday Night affair at Heinz Field.
Since that night, the club has piled up 130 points during the last four games. Previously, they had tallied only 147 in the first seven contests of the season. Why, all of the sudden, this team's offense is just now showing up is beyond me, but it's coming at the right time of year.
And with the New England Patriots coming to town in four days, it's going to be needed.
I've written about the greatness that is Ben Roethlisberger for years now. I’ve raved about how he should be the first name mentioned after the GOAT (Do you even need to ask who I'm referring to?), yet never is in the same discussion with Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and others. Ben has been a stud QB since game one, with Sunday night being no exception.
Roethlisberger once again demonstrated his ability to pick this team up when needed, and make miracles on the gridiron when he whipped 66 balls into the cold, crisp Pittsburgh air vs. Baltimore, with 44 of them hitting their targets for 506 yards of passing.
That's five hundred and six, people.
Half a dime.
Five Ben Franklins.
Five football fields full of Big Ben greatness. Not to mention that he’s now the only quarterback in the history of the league to hit that mark three times in his career.
But this isn't all about Ben. He’s chucking that pigskin to some great players—Antonio Brown being the first among them. How Brown isn't in the running for league-MVP is mind-boggling. He's approaching 100 catches for a fifth straight season. Assuming he isn't struck by lightning, trampled by a pack of wild elephants or abducted by aliens, of course, it’ll mark the first time in NFL history that's happened.
You know, just another day at the office, where business is boomin’.
Brown torched and traumatized the Ravens’ secondary on Monday night for 213 yards on 11 catches, none bigger than with the game hanging in the balance late in the fourth quarter as the Steelers trailed 38-36. AB hauled in a 3rd-and-4 Roethlisberger pass along the sideline that netted 34-yards to the dirty birds’ 30-yard line.
How any defensive back allows separation to happen in that moment is practically a cut-and-release by their head coach, but let's cut them some slack. This is AB we're talking about.
I haven't even spoken about Le'Veon Bell to this point. He put together his best all-around game of the year, rushing for two scores while proving his pass-catching abilities with nine grabs for 77 yards and a third touchdown. Bell didn't churn out a ton of ground yards with his feet, but he still did damage, and you can't complain about that.
The tight ends played a big role also, combining for 14 catches on the night.
Heck, even Martavis Bryant managed to hang on to six balls thrown his way!
And let's not leave out the most consistent kicker this side of the Mississippi not named Justin Tucker. Chris Boswell does it again with another clutch fourth-quarter boot to seal the win.
Yep, it's quite clear this offense is turning it up at the right moment. As their Goliath approaches, as the GOAT comes to town after a terrible loss to Miami (no less), this Steelers’ offense must continue the fireworks on Sunday in order to do what it was destined for — earning the top seed in the upcoming AFC tournament and slaying the dragon that is the New England Patriots.
Sunday can't get here fast enough.
John Phillips has covered sports in Pittsburgh and beyond professionally since 1992. JP has been a member of the BTSC community since 2014.