Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Big-time plays, takeaways and lucky bounces

Three touchdowns scored in 73 seconds late in the second quarter. Bing bang boom. That was the difference in the game. 

Martavis Bryant: Touchdown!
Ben Roethlisberger was opportunistic and spot on when he absolutely needed to be, with drop-a-dime, Big-Time-Franchise-Quarterback passes on the money to Martavis Bryant for a 35-yard touchdown and Antonio Brown.

Running back Le'Veon Bell was evasive, slippery and clutch the whole game, with 88 yards receiving, 55 yards rushing and a touchdown reception.

Todd Haley made a brilliant play call in the red zone that would have been called absurdly idiotic if it had been intercepted instead of going for a touchdown pass thrown by Antonio Brown to Lance Moore. Haley would have been tarred, feathered and pilloried if that pass had been intercepted. Antonio Brown, though, threw a perfect pass that Moore caught. Everything worked on that play, thank goodness.

Antonio Brown, running free
And the defense played takeaway, for once. The bounces went their way. Fumbles recovered, and the ball that bounced off Lawrence Timmons' head into Brett Keisel's arms cannot be scripted. Then Keisel did his best J.J. Watt impersonation on the return.

Speaking of Watt, he was held more or less in check most of the night -- if you count a fumble recovery, a sack and a hard hit on Roethlisberger being held in check. Still, for that guy, yeah, that's being held in check. Somebody (Haley, Mike Munchak, the offensive line, et al, collectively) deserves credit for that. Team effort.

Room for Improvement, with Better Teams Coming
For all of the big plays, opportunistic breaks, lucky bounces and solid game-planning, it took all of that to keep the Houston Texans at bay in a one-score win at home on a Monday night. Not all was lollipops and roses: Arian Foster averaged 5.1 yards per carry for 102 yards. Pittsburgh's defense had only one sack and allowed a 33-yard run and pass plays of 32, 24, 18 and 15 yards. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked three times and fumbled the ball once. The Steelers got next to nothing on their kickoff returns, again, and that is now a trend.

Better teams are coming to Heinz Field, beginning next Sunday with the 5-2 Indianapolis Colts, who shut out and thoroughly humiliated the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. One game at a time, though, and there's lots to feel good about this desperately needed win over the Texans.

Now, it's time to build on the good vibes and get another win. Beat the Colts and then the Baltimore Ravens the following week, and we can begin to consider the Steelers legitimate contenders this year. It's a tall order but within grasp.

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