Monday, October 22, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well: The Steelers Win in Bungle Land

Divine intervention is needed, and always welcome.
Somehow, some way, the Steelers prevailed. With their 24-17 win over the Bengals, the Black 'n Gold are now 10-1 in their past 11 games in Cincinnati.

As much as Joey Porter's Pit Bulls prefer to accentuate the positives, let's start with the negatives because that's how the Steelers started.  In the first half Sunday night in Cincinnati, the Steelers dug a hole that looked like a grave they wouldn't escape.  They started early, and they kept after it with mistake after mistake.

What was more maddening?
  • Mike Wallace's first drop that would have secured a first down but instead squelched a TD drive?  
  • Mike Wallace's second drop?   His third drop, which would have been a touchdown? 
  • Larry Foote's dropped interception on the Bengals' second offensive play?  
  • Baron Batch's embarrassing scissors-hand drop of a sure touchdown via Antonio Brown's near-perfect pass off an end-around?
  • Roethlisberger's slightly overthrown interception of Heath Miller, who was quadruple-covered because everyone in the stadium knew Roethlisberger goes to him the red zone?  
  • Roethlisberger's fumble in the very next possession?
  • The special teams penalties by Stevenson Sylvester, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Baron Batch and Ike Taylor?
  • The ever-smarmy and smirking Cris Collinsworth, an ex-Bengal, as the color announcer on NBC?  
Despite the win, we're worried, too, Sister.
Or, how about this:  The near-complete ineffectiveness of the defensive line on the Bengals' first drive, as manifested early on by Cincy's running game incessantly pounding Ziggy Hood's side of the line. To be fair, the Zigster later batted down a pass and seemed to play better as the game wore on.

And how about Wallace's drops?  Wallace was targeted 15 times and had eight catches (for a mere 52 yards), but four drops.  If Wallace is playing for a contract, and he is, he didn't do himself any favors last night.

Nevertheless, the Steelers managed a 14-14 tie at halftime, somehow, miraculously, and we're all thinking, "How did they end up tied?"  The second half continued to produce hilarity, hijinks, shenanigans, and tomfoolery -- yet, somehow, by the end of the game, the Steelers had a 24-17 win.

Looking at the Positives
Antonio Brown played sparklingly well, all night long.  Lamarr Woodley had a first-half interception that reversed the tide.  Heath Miller was clutch, as always, and the player of the game.  Jonathan Dwyer ran hard for 122 yards.  The patchwork offensive line did a generally good job.  Ike Taylor and company limited A.J. Green to just one catch for six yards, Andrew Hawkins to just two catches for 17 yards, and Jermaine Grisham to just three catches for 19 yards.  Ben Roethlisberger kept his cool, staying sharp and accurate despite the dropped catches. Finally, the Steelers had a significant time-of-possession advantage: 37:30 to 22:30 for the Bengals, who have lost three games in a row now and are in third place, behind the Steelers.

The Steelers will need to play better next week at Heinz Field vs. an up-and-coming Washington Redskins team led by the electric Robert Griffin III

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