I'm struggling with trying to come up with a way to sum up this game. I mean Ben and the passing game played their hearts out, and without some mindboggling fumbles by Dwyer and Antonio Brown, or if AB's punt return TD doesn't get called back, then we have a Steelers blowout and there's nonstop positivity heading in to the bye week. Didn't happen.
Much of the scorn throughout Steelers nation is directed at the defense not being able to stop a thing in the 2nd Half, and they deserve a heavy amount of blame. Instead, I'm more pissed at the Steelers giving the game to the Raiders. AB and Dwyer's fumbles resulted in 2 Oakland TDs. Not immediately, but if the Steelers hit the end zone instead on both drives, that's a 28 point swing. Hypothetical? Yes. Likely? Yes-er.
Ben: Nearly flawless. 384 yards on 36 of 49 passing. Oh, and 4 TDs. Ben had it going on all game, even late when Antonio and Wallace were fumbling. He overcame some shaky early throws that didn't hit their marks perfectly. And that's really all I have that can conceivably be considered criticism. It's just sickening that the giveaways by his teammates were so critical, and the D crapped out in the 2nd Half. 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets for Ben. Full-on Chrysler protection.
RBs: Still puke. Baron Batch had 1 nice run. Redman had 2 or 3. On the Steelers' last drive after the maddening Willie Colon penalty, the Steelers faced 2nd and 3, and ran it 2 straight times. Brings up 4th down, where a 3rd consecutive run moved the chains. We needed 3 runs to pick up 3 yards at a critical juncture in the game. Mendenhall critics really don't have a leg to stand on, and I'm hoping Mendy's own leg is ready to go coming out of this bye. Dwyer fumble killed a drive and was followed by 7 Oakland points. 1.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. I tried to give them 2 but remembered all the TDs came via the air.
Defense: Troy and Silverback better bring some toughness back to this team, and it better start in 2 weeks against the Eagles. We still haven't had a game this season where both Troy and Ryan Clark were manning the safety positions together, so I'm trying to hold off on too much DB criticism until then. Still, this was total Jekyl and Hyde. First half, Raiders were 0-fer on 3rd down. Second half, something like 7-7. The early Carson Palmer interception should've spelled doom for his psyche and the Raiders offensive flow, if we can remember his time in Cincy. Only aside from a Lamarr Woodley sack, there was little pressure on Palmer. We'll hope James Harrison can take up some O-Linemen and spring Wood some more. 2 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Heath: Best TE in the game. Quiet, soft hands, produces. Always. 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Feels like the season has only just begun but the Steelers have their bye next week. Following that it's the Eagles at Heinz and then a looong stretch of continuous football. Sorry I'm not in the mood for jokes and levity right now knowing the team is 1-2. Need wins. Get it.
(thanks to Doug for the banner pic)