A win's a win...every win counts the same...we're still 8-3...and I've officially run out of tired clichés.
19-16 Steelers in OT.
It has become mind-numbingly concerning that every game showcases the Jekyl and Hyde Steelers. The first 2 Pittsburgh drives consisted of 13 and 14 plays. Their last drive in OT was similar in number of plays. And every thing in between was so poor that the stinkin' Bills could climb back into the game. The offense and defense showed moments of pure domination only to squeak out a 3 point OT win. That...shouldn't happen that way. But it did, the game is over, and here's what stuck out in my mind.
Ben: 20 of 33 for 246 yards is just slightly better than 'meh.' Mendenhall's nice early runs really opened the field for Ben, and he hit Hines and Heath on some great throws. He still took a few bad sacks, especially down on the 1-yard line in OT. But he didn't make any big mistakes (INTs) to emphasize the lack of TDs. Plus, that 3rd and 18 run on a bum knee was unreal. I swore loudly while watching that play. 3.5 of 5 helmets.
Mendy: 36 carries for 151 yards and a TD. He also had that 40+ yard scamper called back on a suspect holding call. Frankly, I thought Mendy could've toted the rock like 45 times in this game, since the Bills' sieve-like rush defense wasn't really trying to stop him. But we'll have more on that later when we take a moment to examine Bruce Arians' decisions. He fumbled for the 2nd straight week after a buncha games without putting it on the ground, and really made a point to make up for his mistake later in the game. 4.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Mendy running well can cover up a lot of the glaring deficiencies in this Steelers offense.
Defense: There were a few drives in the 2nd half where the Bills started moving the ball with greater efficiency. But only giving up 16 points when your unit is averaging just 16.5 points against should typically be a recipe for a simple win. And Mendy pretty much gave the Bills 3 points on his fumble. James Harrison was his usual disruptive self and Troy came through with an amazing pick. There's no reason why this defense should only get 2 sacks on Ryan Fitzpatrick when that Bills O-Line was starting former Steelers draft bust Kraig Urbik. The D has gotta find some way to adjust to these QBs and their quick 3-step drops-and-fires. 3 of 5 helmets. I'm sorta proud of the way they held their ground when Buffalo got near FG range TWICE in OT. That last sack helped.
Arians: This is why Bruce Arians has gotten his share of criticism over the past however-many years and will continue to draw the ire of Steelers fans. Mendenhall had accumlated like ~80 yards on the ground and then Arians switches to a pass-happy offense. Even after seeing that the Bills were failing to stop his progress towards the century mark. I'm sure glad the Steelers ate up so much clock early, because every bit of it was needed late. It seems like every week, Bruce's offense puts in 1 fantastic quarter of action which brings his supporters out gloating even worse than those of us that pick at his mistakes. And then boom...completely different team. If you shoot out to a lead, you have to be prepared for the other team attempting to make a run of their own. So go back to what is working, no? 1 of 5 motorcycle helmets. As mentioned, the D held did their job in holding the Bills to 16 points...right at the season average for points against. The Steelers came into this game with the 22nd rank in total offense. Considering the talent on that side of the ball and the expectations that come with a great D and having Ben back for 6 games, that rank is unnacceptable.
Cheap Trick: Another shaky game for the Dream Police. I played it before the opening kickoff and the Steelers looked great with a perfect opening drive. Didn't feel the need to play it again until the Bills started moving the ball in the 2nd half, and when I did, Mendy promptly fumbled. But the Steelers won, so the song will stay on as a motivational tool, if only to appease my own rancid superstitions. 2 of 5 motorcycle helmets. The Dream Police is 6-2 on the season.
Suisham: Star of the game. One motorcycle helmet for each made FG and another for getting main picture in MMCNY. 5 of 5 helmets. He won the game on like 3 levels.
Steelers play the Ravens in Baltimore next week. 8-3 doesn't mean anything. Go Steelers.
(thanks to Doug for the banner pic)