Don’t look now, but the Steelers are a very dangerous team. The Steelers took care of business at home against the Dolphins by an 18-point margin. This team knows they left points on the board, and they’re still not quite where they want to be, but Steelers Nation is happy with the result. Let’s take a look at the good, bad and ugly from the game.
- The stars came out early on Sunday in Pittsburgh. On their biggest stage this season, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell all shined. Yes Roethlisberger threw a couple interceptions, but I’ll get to that in moment. Brown and Bell accounted for just shy of 300 combined yards and all four of the Steelers’ touchdowns. Not a bad day’s work.
- The Steelers’ linebackers are playing really well as a unit right now. Every one of the starters made his presence felt. James Harrison is looking like he’s 29, not 39. Bud Dupree was explosive and showed tons of hustle getting after Matt Moore. Ryan Shazier made a great play with a fake blitz, dropping into coverage and subsequently snatching an interception. Lawrence Timmons took advantage of the Dolphins losing him in pass protection and put the proverbial nail in the coffin with back-to-back sacks on the final drive.
- The offensive line played a solid game. The big men gave Ben Roethlisberger plenty of time in the pocket and opened up lots of holes for Bell. The success of this offense hinges on the play of the men up front, and they are playing very well as a unit.
- Team tackling was overall very good, particularly against the run. Jay Ajayi could only muster 33 yards on 16 carries. The defense came in with a chip on their collective shoulders. They were not giving up another 200 yard performance, especially at home.
- Despite allowing almost three hundred yards in the air, I felt like the secondary played a solid game. The long bomb to Stills looked like a whole lot of luck to me. Mike Mitchell comes up big with the strip sack and Sean Davis was around the ball most of the afternoon.
- Ben Roethlisberger threw a couple of interceptions. As much as I hate to say it, this didn’t seem to have negative affect on the outcome of the game, this time. But I’d like to see a lot less of that going forward. Better teams await, and they can take greater advantage of those turnovers.
- Chris Boswell missed an extra point. Again, it didn’t matter in the end today, but let’s not take points off the board, please. Boz has been solid all year. Now’s not the time to slip up.
- Ben Roethlisberger in a walking boot because he got hurt late in a game, at a point he probably should have been on the sideline in an overstuffed parka and ski cap. Obviously, as usually is the case with No. 7, he says he’s playing next weekend. I’m betting that’s true. I’m hopeful he’s at 100%.
- Special teams return coverage is still a big problem. Kenyan Drake had a 58-yard kick return late in the game. This cannot continue.
Was it a sense of urgency, the weight of the playoffs, or a team finally starting to work as a well-oiled machine as they march toward the ultimate prize? Maybe the Dolphins, missing a bunch of starters, simply were just not good enough at this juncture to beat a Steelers team that has just won it’s eighth in a row. Maybe all of the above. I believe this team is really starting to find it’s identity and play well together. There’s a feeling of chemistry on both offense and defense (sorry special teams-I’m just not feelin’ it) that gives Steelers Nation hope as the Black-and-Gold march toward Lombardi number seven.