First things first… with this being my 100th post on PittsburghJedi.com, I want to thank all of my geeks and sports fans that have made running this site so enjoyable. I’m not even a complete year into this and I’ve communicated with hundreds of people from all over the globe about Star Wars and/or Pittsburgh sports. On a daily basis I’m talking about things I love to talk about, with people who love to talk about it too. You just can’t beat that! So a big thanks to my entire online and real life community. The force is strong with yinz!!!
The Pittsburgh Steelers battle back from a losing record to an even 3-3, with a pretty significant win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers were able to run the clock out and maintain a 24-17 win over the Bengals last night, largely attributed to the Pittsburgh defense able to hold strong in the 4th quarter. Though it has been mentioned time and again that the offense needs to finish out strong instead of put games on the shoulders of the defense, the offensive efforts in the first 3 quarters proved to be enough to maintain the W.
With a team that has proven to be pretty inconsistent in almost every aspect of its game, there’s a lot of positives and negatives to point out about the Steelers. Here’s a list of major aspects that either played a large role in the Steelers success last night, or made us as fans, hold our breath with massive amounts of anxiety.
Let’s get it rolling…
– Aside from Sanders leaving the field for a play with a sudden cramp in his leg, the Steelers stayed healthy last night. Injuries still plague the team, but at least nobody was added to the already extensive list.
– The defense looked a little shaky at the start of the game. Green-Ellis was having his way with the Steelers defense for the vast majority of the first half. The stats don’t exactly reflect the results of the eye-test, with Cinci only able to wrack up 185 yards total. They kept their heads in the game and continually trying to put pressure on Andy Dalton, came up with an interception, deflected a few passes, and kept the ball away from A.J. Green for the most part. The defense held strong in the 4th, making the Bengals punt away all of their offensive opportunities with the Steelers only up by a single touchdown.
– Jon Dwyer graced the Steelers offense with a run game. Dwyer put up 122 yards in 17 carries, the longest of which was 32 yards. A nice showing after the Oakland game, when the city wanted his head on a spike. There were a lot of Bettis comparisons last night. I don’t think I’m ready to jump on board with that yet but I do recognize the way he keeps his legs churning and his reluctancy to fall in any direction other than forward. This game probably earned him a couple more snaps in the future.
– Antonio Brown and Heath Miller apparently can do no wrong. They’re just on fire this season. I’ve resorted to called Heath “The Nightlight” since he’s as reliable to execute every aspect of his job on the field as nightlights are to helping kids not be so afraid of the dark. They’re both on their way to being team MVP’s.
– Ben continues to be sharp. He fumbled and threw an interception last night, but neither seemed to shake him at all. The interception looked to be a result of overconfidence. He has really been on point, threading the needle perfectly into heavy coverage. There’s no need for Ben to push his luck so much with the depth he has in his receiving core. That being said, the down-field option is open and working. I would love to see a lot more aggression from our passing game in that respect, and let our ridiculously fast receivers take make a play for the endzone.
– Ike Taylor played his best game of the season. No need to celebrate, though. He still let up a touchdown pass, which was the only pass he let get through to A.J. Green and was bailed out by Keenan Lewis on a potential second TD pass. Ike knocked down a pass at a key point in 4th quarter which seemed to excite him very much so, if I correctly understood his self-acknowledging celebration after the play. A better team and a better quarterback would have attacked Ike last night, which was his saving grace in this Bengals game.
– Mike Wallace had his worst game of the season. That also shouldn’t bee too alarming because it was still a decent game. With 8 receptions for 52 yards, Wallace’s drops would have easily put him over 100 yards receiving and probably would’ve resulted in at least once touchdown. Wallace has had two not-so-good games, back to back now. it shouldn’t be too alarming that he had a few bad games. I can’t imagine this will be a constant trend through the rest of the season, but it certainly doesn’t play in favor of him wanting “Fitzgerald money” in addition to all of his preseason strike dramatics. Also, in Wallace’s defense of the 3rd drop, although still very catchable, Ben could have thrown it much better. On the other side of the coin, it’s Wallace’s job to make big catches.
– The offense in general was good, but still not putting teams away with any feel of authority. Battling back to tie the game 14-14 at the half was impressive, but at the end of the game, the offense left it up to a less than reliable steelers defense to solidify the win. In a defense you have little faith in, the offense needs to deliver more, especially when the defense is actually holding its ground. The Steelers really need to start entering 4th quarters with multiple possession leads. This offense is talented enough to do that.
– Although no longer 100%, Suisham is still kicking very well on the season. 4 for 4 on all scoring attempts last night.
– TOO MANY PENALTIES!!! I would love to know how many yards we lost out on during kick returns last night. The holding calls have come in drones this season and its beyond aggravating. There were no pass interference calls last night but I’m sure Ike will have one again soon enough.
– The utilization of Rainey in the run offense last night was pure genius. Line him up as a running back, use him to sprint through a seam or as an additional receiving option. That was one of the most effective options I’ve seen the Steelers use to switch up the look of the run game. I hope we see more of that in the future… I have faith we will.
– Honorable mention… the trick play that resulted in Brown floating a pass for the endzone to Baron Batch, worked like a charm. That would’ve been an easy 6 points for the Steelers if Batch remembered catching the ball is what makes passing plays successful.
So there’s a pretty good list of pro’s and con’s of last nights game and items moving forward. Hopefully our long list of injured players are finding themselves healing up nicely and we’ll see many them back on the field for next week’s match up. Looking forward, the next 4 games can go either way for the Steelers. Though you should never underestimate an opponent, especially since the Steelers were beat by two much lesser opponents already this season, but the next “easy” game isn’t for another five weeks, when we face the Browns in Cleveland. Hopefully when we enter that week, it’ll be with a head full of steam and not in hopes to rally back up on our feet.