A Flat Performance, But a Flattened Opponent

Only against the Bengals can a Steelers team look to be sleepwalking through a game and still win by three scores. The running games never got going until late, the defense sat back and the Bengals bring the suck to them and there were still drive killing penalties and drops aplenty. Hell, Hines even had two.

It will be interesting to see whether Willie Parker came into this game more banged up than he did against the Chargers, because he certainly looked the part. After breaking a game-long 15-yard run, in which he looked to be hampering coming off the end, Parker retired to the sideline and didn't get another touch the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Mewelde Moore, a week after it looked like he wouldn't fit in well with FWP running well and Gary Russell taking the short yardage assignments, looked a hell of a lot better and made things happen in space. Speaking of Russell, he parlayed another opportunity to win his positional player to a few critical conversions and a TD run. Tomlin remarked that they thought they found something with Russell in the Chargers game and they may be right. While certainly no game-breaking talent, he's huge improvement other the two running back alternatives in those situations, or even than how Najeh executed last year.

Heath Miller, who only had faint chances of even being able to play, was utilized better than he had been prior to his injury, even if he drew one holding call on a drive in which he ended up making a big catch and later scoring. The odd standout player on the offense was Santonio Holmes, who had one of his better games of the season and was doing some smart route running for a change. You could say that Ben fared better as well, but there were a number of dropbacks where he looked very indecision, pumped six times and still nearly threw a pick. Though the stats looked better, this was a regression from the play we saw from him last week.

Fortunately Bryant McFadden will likely return last week. If this was not Cincy (or possibly the Browns) being a team they can count on for for drops, the defense could have been burned much worse than it was. Bengals receivers were wide open on more than a few occasions. Granted Cincy executed their gameplan well (then oddly abandoned it) connecting on short passes to move the ball down the field. The Steelers didn't cause as much disruption until the game was already essentially decided. The run defense was stout, but when is it not going to be against Cedric Benson?

I'm sure a hardy round of "I'll take it"s are in order, but the team is going to have to play with a little more fire under it's ass to deal with the Patriots-Cowboys-Ravens-Titans foursome coming down the pike.

1 comment:

DJ Butta Ball said...

N.J. Jets-Steelers in AFC title game.

Titans early ouster in an upset.