I was leaving a Steelers bar in Manhattan yesterday and caught a subway back to my place. We had gone a few stops when a dude wearing a retro Troy Polamalu jersey hopped on and saw me in my Hines Ward jersey. There were no words exchanged between the two of us, just this:
I'd like to think that speaks to how the Steelers performed in this game. Cortland Finnegan and several other Titans were hopping around after meaningless tackles while losing by 16, talking trash and collecting personal foul penalties while the Steelers just got the job done. With 7 turnovers, Pittsburgh coulda got all cocky and showoff-y, but settled for simply doing work like they've been trained to do. Likewise, us fans had the opportunity to rub the 2-0 start in everyone's faces. We just accepted the outcome, celebrated mildly, and moved on.
19-11 Steelers. Yes.
The Steelers are 2-0 and comfortably sitting atop the AFC North when the critics were all over the Bengals and Ravens before the season started. There's about a billion injuries and still 2 more games before the bye week and Ben's return, but winning those first 2 games are clutch. Let's take a look at this one.
Offense: 126 total yards of offense is not gonna get any praises from anyone. Dixon only had 18 yards passing and Batch 25. But the combination of Pittsburgh's training camp 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks (and in Chuckles' case he wasn't even getting many reps) had only one turnover to Vince Young/Kerry Collins' 5. Mendenhall struggled for 3 yards a carry and 69 total on the ground. The lack of offense means I'm not picking out any individual on the offense to rate, and I'll lump 'em all together instead. 2 of 5 helmets. I can't say I've seen 126 total yards for a winning Steelers team before.
Troy Polamalu: 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Are you kidding me?
James Harrison: 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Lawrence Timmons: 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Defense: All joking aside, these guys played out of their skulls this week. They've contributed greatly to every victory in the Dick LeBeau era, but they straight-up won this game. Short of scoring a defensive touchdown, they did it all. Chris Johnson had the best game of his career on the ground against the Steelers and he only gained 34 yards. That says everything. Troy and Silverback should be the only 2 guys up for defensive player of the week, and Timmons through 2 games has shown that he has the ability to play at their level consistently. That's scary. 7 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Guess why.
Jeff Reed and Antonio Brown: Yep, there's all our points from this game. Antonio Brown was the obvious difference and Reed bounced back from 2 misses last week to hit all 4 of his attempts. I'll give them 5 of 5 helmets, one for each FG and another for that kickoff return. Offense does anything even remotely competent and we're looking at an absolutely complete team.
Tampa Bay next week. Lotta people are thinking it could be a trap game. I don't care enough about the Bucs to make an informed judgment. They wear orange.
(thanks to Doug for the banner pic)