Those Dirty Birds
Gone is tough guy Ray and his pre game motivational rant, the days of Hines Ward flattening “future hall of famer” Ed Reed are over, and Big Joe is off the hook for getting terrorized by Debo. And such it the state of one of the most heated and vicious rivalry in the NFL, but the grand feeling of beating the hated Rat-Birds is still as joyous as ever. Ironically, upon arrival in Steeltown, the Super Champs were as much in flux as the Steelers. The loss of key talented players, an ineffectual run game, and an offensive line that is struggling to gain ground. So much like in years past, we were equally matched and the results were as they should be, Steelers win. But overall a good outing by the entire offense, especially the offensive line which opened up some lofty holes for rookie running back Le’Veon Bell to scamper through. Big Ben took his usual sacks, but was not beat up, I’m happy to say there is a definitely upswing in the offensive line play and clearly they are working as the improvement is evident. Kelvin Beachum started at left tackle, he gave up a sack and got beat around the edge by Terrell Suggs, but held his own for the most part and will probably stay at that position for the foreseeable future. Marcus Gilbert got dinged up and was replaced by Guy Whimper, which surprised me as Mike Adams, even with his struggles, is better than Whimper. Adams did come into the game later as a tackle eligible and did not screw up.
Le’Veon Bell is looking more impressive each game, if he can stay healthy he looks to have a very promising career ahead of him. Ripping off 93 yards on just 19 carries, as well as taking the wild-cat direct snaps, Bell is definitely an element to the offense that was surely lacking. He also takes a good amount of pressure off of Big Ben. Ben was only 17 of 23 on the day for 160 yards, 1 touchdown on a shuffle pass to Heath Miller, but he made the crucial plays when it mattered with under 2 minutes left in the game. The bigger story is he did not turn the ball over, he also decided to run for a first down and chipped in with 25 yards on three scampers. His end zone pass to Derek Moye mid fourth quarter would have made it a two score lead, but Moye let the ball slip right through both hands, a routine catch for any receiver in the NFL, inexcusable! Very reminiscent of Limas Sweed’s AFC Championship miss against the same team a few years back, must be something about the #14 jersey.
This was the game I’m certain every Steeler fan was missing James Harrison. Harrison was our ace in the hole when it came to harassing Big Joe Flacco, without him we were only able to muster up one sack. Of course the 2013 Steelers have not been known for pressuring the quarterback anyhow, as a result, Big Joe was able to orchestrate lofty drives, hitting every pass he threw. Fortunately the secondary was able to limit the big plays Flacco has become famous for, Ike Taylor continues to provide excellent support on the back end. The 41 yards sideline completion to Tori Smith was certainly disconcerting, but when was Ike ever a ball hawking DB. There are however some overwhelming problems that don’t look as if a solution or change is going to be imminent anytime in the near future. One, the lack of pass rush is troubling, and secondly the inability to stop teams on long drives, particularly at the end of the half or more importantly the end of the game. There is marginal improvements along the way, rookies Vinnie Williams at inside linebacker and Shamarko Thomas at Safety are getting valuable playing time, which should bode well assuming we have a shot at the playoffs come seasons end. Both players are certainly sound drafts choices and will most definitely serve us well for years to come.
It’s a good thing we’ve got Sean Sushiam!
Finally a little diversity in the offensive play calling, I LOVE the option play to Heath Miller for the touchdown in the first quarter. The wildcat? Once was okay, but running it back to back, no. But at least they gave the opposing team something to think about, and keep them guessing. The Rat-Birds are not that smart to begin with, so it worked out fine. Coach Harbaugh had the brilliant idea to call for an onside kick after their first possession of the fourth quarter, which was poorly executed and recovered by the Steelers. The result of the onside kick recovery was the drop by Moye, again settling for a meager three points. Let’s hope OC Haley decides to continue being inventive, and Coach Lebeau decides to be more aggressive, we’ve got to keep this winning streak going throughout these next couple of weeks while on the road if we have any chance of salvaging the season.
It’s a great day in Steeltown when the hated Rat-Birds get what they deserve, another humiliating loss to the black and gold. All of Steeler Nation loved it, it’s reassuring to see the progress from week to week, albeit it marginally. As long as there’s development, discipline, and a tougher more aggressive attitude, this team can go as far as they want, we’re far from being out of contention at this early stage.
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