Final result...20-7 Steelers over Saints.
Overall, I can't really nitpick when the team downright outplays the opposition. There wasn't one time when I thought, "Hmmm, we might be in trouble, here." However, I want to touch on several of the good (and the shaky) aspects of the game.
Mike Tomlin. Its safe to say the guy was under a microscope. Collinsworth and Gumbel were debating how he would open the game. Will he air it out? Will he stay true to the running game? In my assessment, Iron Mike put together the perfect first two plays of the game. He appeased the Steelers Nation by opening the game on the ground. 2 yards...whatever. Then, what better time to call a play-action pass then at the beginning of the first preseason game, when teams are still in training camp and working to not bite on the fake. 55 yards..on a perfect toss by everyone's favorite punching bag from '06, Ben Roethlisberger.
Critics wondered aloud about Tomlin's physical camp and the insane amount of two-a-days. The hard work really showed itself last night, up and down the depth chart. On a scale of one to five, I'll give Mike Tomlin 5 motorcycle helmets for his game plan. I can't fault a guy who won his first career game, whether its the preseason or not.
Ben Roethlisberger. The guy performed. Simply put. 2 for 3 for 73 yards.
I have 2 points of concern regarding Big Ben, however. The first is that he only played one series. Last preseason, Cowher did the exact same thing with Ben. Natalie Gulbis' ex was held out of the bulk of the preseason, albeit for the reason of the motorcycle accident. Cowher claimed he didn't want to overwork his quarterback, and the lack of playing time in the preseason definitely showed itself early in the regular season. Hopefully, Ben plays more than one series in the coming games.
The second point of concern is how well Ben still throws under pressure. His one missed completion was due to a drop by Nate Washington. Nate did that a lot last night. However, that pass was the first time Ben was under pressure in the game. As soon as he let the ball go, he ducked down and to the left. If you watched any of the 2006 season, then you know that this was a major problem, leading to a good many of Ben's league-leading 23 INTs. I'm hoping his little duck from last night is due to the fact that its early rather than an overlap of last year's hesitant apprehension.
Still, Ben did well. I'll give him four of five motorcycle helmets.
LaMarr Woodley. In college, he was a quarterback-hunting DE. How would the rook respond to dropping back into coverage as a LB?
How about a diving play to break up a sure-fire completion, all while forcing 4th down on the Saints' opening possession. I'd say the rook adjusted nicely. Five of five motorcycle helmets.
Backups. Did you see Carey Davis' 56 yard scamper? He looked like a young Bettis all night, lowering his shoulder to initiate contact. On his long run, he cut it outside before taking off and hurdling the last Saints defender.
Brian St. Pierre also looked capable for the first time in his career. 8 of 14 for 129 yards and a touchdown. Much better than Jamie Martin, Jason Fife and Tyler Palko combined. And St. Pierre didn't leave a young receiver out to get clocked like Palko did.
I'd have to say that Davis was the epitome of the Steelers backups all night. Hard-working grit, while completely outplaying the opposition. Four of five motorcycle helmets for the backups. They did allow a touchdown, but played very well for a bunch of guys who most likely won't make the team.
This concludes the first installment of Monday Morning Chrysler New Yorker. I might have to change the name to Monday Afternoon Chrysler New Yorker, or even Sometime-Between-The-Last-Game-And-The-Next-One Chrysler New Yorker.