Kudos to the Steelers' offense for implementing and creating an effective game-plan to pull out a huge 26-21 victory at Jacksonville, and beating a team they've lost to four consecutive times. But it was the defense that once again dominated the line of scrimmage.
I had a brief email exchange with Cotter at One For The Other Thumb prior to Sunday night's 26-21 win over Jacksonville.
In my ramblings, I mentioned to him that Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was going to make our darkest moment his finest hour.
Just to make sure all the Arians haters know this...that's exactly what he did.
Yes, execution is the ultimate judge, but Arians took Mewelde Moore, Najeh Davenport and a sore throwing shoulder of Roethlisberger's and turned it into the finest first half offensive performance the team has had against a team not based in Texas all season. After Jacksonville adjusted, he got enough from his brutalized offensive line (that added left tackle Marvel Smith to its Wounded List) for a dramatic 11 play drive that resulted in a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Jacksonville's most hated opponent, Hines Ward.
After a completely bogus review of the play, and an embarrassing display of incompetance regarding the seemingly simple act of starting the clock at the correct time, the Steelers missed a two-point conversion. Fortunately, new front-runner-to-lose-Defensive-Player-of-the-Year-honors-to-Albert-Haynesworth candidate James Harrison took over, picking up a sack and a boatload of pressure, shutting down the overrated David Garrard.
(speaking of Harrison and Haynesworth...as long as the league stops feeding us the utter BS that self-promotion and celebrations aimed to garner the attention of the network doesn't gain anything and isn't tolerated, then I'll accept whatever award they choose. Fact is, Harrison gets little to no publicity because the league doesn't talk about him because he doesn't dance after his big plays. Don't tell me he has less of an impact on his defense than Haynesworth does. I shouldn't be worried about such things, what, with each passing week proving again that 2008 is the worst officiated year on record and all, but I will anyway.)So what about Hampton and Keisel?
You're never going to hear a whole lot of negative commentary about Casey Hampton, but back-up NT Chris Hoke has a way of getting the job done in his absence. Sunday night's victory moves the Steelers to 12-1 in his career when Hoke starts. He did a great job against Jacksonville's zone blocking running scheme, and shut down a running back tandem who ran all over Pittsburgh in two games last year.
Hoke highlighted a fine performance from several Steelers back-ups forced into the lineup in a hostile stadium against a physical opponent. Right guard Darnell Stapleton ended up getting the start over Trai Essex, and he'll grade out well upon review of the film. Travis Kirschke played well in the absence of Keisel and DE Nick Eason.
None played better than the Steelers' top free agent acquisition. That's ME-welde Moore
He made sure the Minneapolis media knew his name was pronounced ME-welde, so the radio people around here sort of made fun of that by overstating the "ME" part of his name. His 99 yards were easily the biggest 99 rushing yards of this season, considering the team's aim was to throw the ball, and he had to take his opportunities in spots.
He made the most of it. Again, credit to Arians to apply the perfect mix of Moore to compliment Roethlisberger's hot hand. Execution was not flawless, but the plan put them in position to win. Moore was a big part of that. Bye Week fun
The Steelers get their usual early October bye, and rest up to go to rival Cincinnati in Week 7. Sandwiched between games against the Bengals in Week 7 and Week 12 is a brutal stretch of games against the Giants, Washington, Indianapolis and San Diego.
Knowing that, 4-and-1 is a pretty good place to be. With a 2-and-a-half game lead over the Ravens for the AFC North championship, they're in a good spot.
Labels: Game Wrap-up