Bittersweet Beat Down
Steelers 24 – Opponent 16
We’ve come to like Marv Lewis after defeat press conferences, the one he gave after the 24 to 16 loss in a rain soaked Heinz Field yesterday should get him at least another one year extension on his coaching contract.
On a day when most people would simply pull the covers back over their head and sleep the day away, Pittsburgh was rockin’ and the locals where as happy as a day at the beach.
The only feeling better than whooping on the Bungles is beating the hated Ratbirds, a joy that’s hard to put into words.
It was a sluggish start on offense with a stagnant run game and two interceptions by Big Ben, even the great AB dropped an easy third down catch that hit him right between the numbers. But it didn’t take the Steelers long to find their groove with some spectacular plays by some of the newest members of the team.
Back up tight end Xavier Grimble put the first touchdown on the scoreboard with a nifty 20 yard reception and lounge for the end zone, he also chipped in with a twenty six yard grab later in the game. It was incumbent starter Jesse James who really stole the spotlight today with two incredible catches, he high-pointed a dart in heavy traffic for the second score, then had a toe-tap select grab on a Big Ben scramble that was also incredible. It’s only a matter of time before the local Yinzers find a suitable pet name for Jesse as he’s looking like the real deal while following legendary tight end Heath Miller.
The real stars of the game however were the Steelers offensive line, the pass protection was excellent all day and with center Maurkice Pouncey back in the line up, this crew is about as dominant and in sync as any offensive line the Steelers have ever assembled. As the run game revved up the Bengals stout defense wore down, running back D’Angelo Williams came away with another stellar performance including ninety four yards on a slippery turf and a touchdown reception to boot.
This is not the same slip-shot defense from a year ago who ranked thirtieth in pass defense, this current unit is turning into a dominant force lead by middle linebacker Ryan Shazier. The 2016 draft class is also stepping up to the plate with second round pick Sean Davis playing safety and nose guard Javon Hargrove playing sound mature football.
First round pick Artie Burns got into the action in a big way, busting up a pass in the back right side pylon that wouldn’t have been an easy six points were it not for his awareness and keen athletic skills. Bungles star receiver AJ Green was held to a mere two catches for thirty eight yards, that’s what you call a dominating defense performance, taking out their best player and holding them to one touchdown and three field goals.
Bottom line, this is a good defense that is going to get better, much better. And this is what championship teams are made of, dynamic offense and a defense that you can rely on. The goal line stand yesterday was very impressive, we’ll need that same type of performance sixteen weeks from now as well.
I give the entire coaching staff a lot of credit thus far, they’ve taken young unproven players, rookies who are in the game and know what they are doing as well as making significant plays. They have developed others who have been on the team for a couple of years and they have sound game plans in place for their respective opponents.
Two impressive wins to start the 2016 campaign, visions of ‘Stairway To Seven’ dance in our heads.