Using tough red zone defense and a welcome contribution from the return team, the Steelers weathered a difficult first quarter, in which the other team had possession 11 of the first 12 minutes, before dominating the 49ers 37-16 yesterday to improve to 3-0 for the first time since the last time they welcomed a new coach.
Willie Parker had his third 100-yard performance of the season and Ben continues to remain in solid form, relying more and more on his tight ends, as Jerame Tuman got in on the scoring act, hauling in the only Steelers receiving TD of the game. The tight ends so far have caught four of the six Steeler TD passes this season.
The Steelers held fantasy football wunderback Frank Gore to a paltry 39 yards and gave Alex Smith fits. Former Pitt punter Andy Lee did get off a 66-yard punt (entirely in the air!) that perhaps was the most impressive feat of the day for the Niners. Speaking of special teams, I can't enough how good it is to have someone who can catch a punt, much less run a kickoff back for a score. Seriously, how is Ricardo Colclough still on this team?
Still waiting to hear an estimate on how long Hines Ward will be out with the bone bruise he suffered from a helmet to the knee in the third quarter. So far, P-G reports he showed up today without a noticeable limp and that the MRI revealed no tear. Nothing too serious, it sounds like. If it's going to be a couple weeks, and hopefully it won't, at least the team is coming up against the bye and he'll only miss the two games against Arizona and Seattle. Since we only seem determined to throw to the tight ends, perhaps it's not a huge temporary loss.
Meantime, the Steelers are gearing up for a reunion in the desert with Ken "I love shotgun draws on 3rd and 1" Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm next week, who all of a sudden seem to have a quarterback controversy on their hands, as the Buzzsaw is going through that Hobson's Choice of temporarily competent washed-up veteran versus underperforming young Paris Hilton paramour.