There are low notes to grouse about with this game if you're in the market for some: Trai Essex left with an injury, adding to the offensive line difficulties the Steelers have at left tackle at least the next few weeks, as did Dennis Dixon, which will make for a curious scenario at starting quarterback next week. Charlie Batch didn't look horrible under center. On a few plays, he was let down by a receiver unable to haul in a makeable catch.
These are mere quibbles, of course. If the overtime victory over the Falcons ensured that the Steelers wouldn't be behind the eight ball when Roethlisberger returns in Week 6, this win means Pittsburgh will almost certainly have charted a course for a playoff run by the time Ben's suspension ends. As I said in the preview, I didn't have high hopes for a victory and that the defense would have to force a host of mistakes for that to happen.
Was I too fulsome in my praise for Vince Young? Probably, though I think he's still played very well of late and was surprised that Jeff Fisher has such a short leash with his starter in this game. Ultimately, I think VY will be fine. It's just that the Steelers defense is that good again this season. I mean, they just held Chris Johnson to 2.1 yards per carry, not to mention under 100 yards in a game for the first time since Week 5 of last season.
Two salient graphics that kept coming up in the course of the game were that the Steelers had been 1-8 at Tennessee. LP Field and its predecessor have certainly been difficult places to play, no doubt, though I was partial to this second statistic:
Didn't feel like Photoshopping the change to 18-3, but feel free to use your imagination.
Pretty telling that so far this season Polamalu and McFadden have all the interceptions by the secondary. LaMarr Woodley is also to be commended for baiting Young into a bad throw over the middle that Woodley made a great snag on. If Woodley can be counted on for better pass coverage, that's a frightening prospect for opposing offenses.
Will have to watch the game again to be sure, but I didn't come away with a sense that Jonathan Scott or Tony Hills stood out over the other at left tackle. Fortunately, again, Starks isn't out as long as once thought. That and the Steelers have Tampa Bay next week. I was intrigued how much Isaac Redman was used at fullback, especially after David Johnson had that superb block to free Mendenhall in overtime last week.
[Superstitious reminder to myself that Tampa is 2-0 and you shouldn't take any team lightly]
REQUISITE BRUCE ARIANS BASHING SEGMENT
Okay, Bruce, I'm glad you weren't being overly conservative with Dixon and now Charlie Batch playing quarterback, but listen to me closely when I say GOING FIVE WIDE ON YOUR OPENING OFFENSIVE SERIES AGAINST AN ATTACKING DEFENSE WHEN YOU HAVE A QUARTERBACK STARTING HIS THIRD GAME WITH JONATHAN FUCKING SCOTT PLAYING LEFT TACKLE IS CHAN GAILEY LEVEL MENTALLY DEFICIENT! DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE!
This, of course, was the play where the Titans hit Dixon on the blind side and forced a fumble when the Steelers could have taken a two-score lead within the first few minutes. Or even not almost allowed Tennessee to tie the game. Such an inane playcall.
CORTLAND FINNEGAN PROVES A SUCCESSFUL CHEAP HOT ARTIST
Cortland Finnegan was bullshitting this week about how his goal is to unseat Hines as the NFL's dirtiest play. I'd argue he's well on his way after this dick move on the Steelers first drive. Not sure exactly how this is an off-setting penalty when the Titans initiate the fight by swinging the ball in Hines' face then twisting his facemask around. But then Jeff Fisher's team always engages in shit like this, yet no ever cares about the Titans enough for it to stick as their reputation.
VINCE YOUNG WAS A PROUD MAN AND WE BURIED HIM HEAD FIRST
Youch. Vince Young was pulled from the game not long after this hit. Granted, he had turned the ball over twice by that point, and would be stripped by James Harrison a few minutes later, but I wonder if he was showing any effects from that hit? I haven't seen any rumblings of him suffering a concussion.