Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steelers Recap - Week 9

I had to be happy with my Steelers’ performance last night on Monday Night Football. It was a little shaky early on, but in the second half, they looked like a Super Bowl Championship team. (We’ll ignore the small detail of the interception Ben threw in the end zone.) They won the game over a 6-1 team, by the score of 28-10. The defense gave up only 3 points, and only 26 yards rushing. I can’t really complain about anything after a game like that. But let’s go to the notes!

* The Broncos came out wearing their Orange Crush-inspired 3rd jerseys. (For those that don’t know, the term “Orange Crush” refers what happened to their Super Bowl aspirations in the 70’s and 80’s.) I also see that they’ve given out little orange pom-poms to the crowd. I’m at least thankful that it wasn’t yet another lame rip-off of our beloved Terrible Towel. On the other hand, real men don’t wave pom-poms.
* The Broncos came out with a good game plan. They used a lot of play-action to make the Steeler linebackers stay up on the line and threw quick timing patterns behind them. Orton was getting the ball out immediately, before the rush could get to him. The defense would bend but not break, but I was worried about the ease with which they were moving the ball. In the back of my mind, though, I knew the coaches would figure things out and adapt their tactics.

* I swear that when the announcers said that Orton has only had one pick all year, I said “we’re going to change that tonight. We’re getting at least 2

* Rashard Mendenhall was running well early. I was at a loss as to why they didn’t run him more often. They eventually did in the 2nd half. Ben wasn’t able to pass worth beans in the 1st half. The Broncos were playing some very tight coverage and no one was getting open. I have to give them credit for that… but that’s why we should have been running Rocket Rashard. Run him enough and the pass routes will open up.

* Conversely, the Broncos couldn’t run worth squat. No wonder the fake handoffs worked so well.

* It was nice to see Tyrone Carter get that interception and run it back. He was a question mark in the secondary, filling in for Ryan Clark. I guess he did OK, huh? (He also got another pick late in the game.)

* It was funny that they finally called a penalty on someone holding James Harrison. I call it “funny” because it’s the exact same hold they let go on every other play. I couldn’t see how this one was any different. Not that I’m complaining… this one saved a 4th-down conversion by the Broncos. Whoops! Here come the conspiracy theorists…

* We have another Limas Sweed sighting! First he fails to hold onto a low throw from Ben. Then he does succeed in holding… a Broncos player on the ensuing punt. Back to the bench, Limas, and stay there!

* The half ends with the Steelers only having run 18 plays. Maybe that’s the game plan… to keep the offense fresh for the 2nd half.

* Steelers came out like another team in the 2nd half. Looks like the strategy worked. But just when they start moving the ball, Ben gets blindsided and fumbles… the Broncos take it back for a quick 6. That’s OK, we’ll just keep doing what we were doing.

* Suddenly they come out in the no-huddle and there’s a pass to William Mike Wallace for a first down. Freedom!

Then Rashard rambles around end for 22. And a bomb to Santonio down to the 4. Finally a bullet to Hines, over the fingertips of the defender, for a touchdown. 80 yards in 4 plays. I guess Ben decided to start playing for real now. Welcome to the party, Benny!

* I know we have problems covering kickoffs (although not tonight) but I just hate those short kickoffs that are supposed to eliminate the long return. Instead, they just hand the other team the ball on the 40. Why not just kick it out of bounds and save all the running around?

* The Steeler Fan presence in the stands is great. Not only do you hear a roar when the Steelers score, you can hear the “Heeeeeeeeeeeeath” chant when Heath Miller catches one. I see Limas out on the field again. I think he sneaks out when the coaches aren’t looking. The Steelers have another long drive featuring another long run around end by Rashard. But this is where Ben throws a bad ball for a pick in the end zone. But at least we’re moving. Better than those chronic “4 and outs” we were doing in the 1st half.

* Troy Polamalu takes over another series in the 4th quarter… first flashing into the backfield and submarining the runner, then going up high to pull in another brilliant interception. You know, if Ike Taylor could catch even half as well as Troy, he’d have about a dozen more interceptions than he does. Troy’s pick yields a classic Ben scrambling pass to William Mike Wallace, who “truly lives” to score more touchdowns.

* Defense is going after Orton like wild dogs. I just love it when the other team has to pass. It’s like throwing a pork chop into the kennel. Scanning the crowd now, I see a lot of towels; not so many pom-poms. Hines adds the final insult to injury as he hurdles Champ Baily to get into the end zone for a last minute touchdown.
Jon Gruden dismisses that whole mess about the Sports Illustrated poll (sampling 15% of the league, before teams are even finalized) that names Hines as the dirtiest player. Gruden says if he were coaching, he’d “want 7 of those guys.” To which Ron Jaworski said, “Only 7?”

* Great… NOW Skippy puts a kickoff into the end zone. He should do that every freakin’ time, especially in the thin air of Denver. Nevertheless, Tyrone comes up with his 2nd interception and it’s game over. Rashard finishes with 155 yards rushing. That outside run was there all day long, even when Mewelde Moore ran it. The Denver defense were the ones huffing and puffing in the 2nd half, that’s for sure.

Mojo Analysis
So far so good with wearing the Heath and Harrison throwbacks. I wore the Harrison to work on Friday. Both seem to influence either the offense or defense, while watching a game from home. Next week is the Bengals game which, on paper, ought to be the biggest game of the year, as both teams are tied for the division lead. But for non-paper importance, I still have to go with the 2 upcoming Ravens games. If we lose either of those, I have to hear about it from the idiot Ratbird fans.

Anyway, the Ratties will be playing the Brownies on Monday night, so we will probably get the Sunday Steelers/Bengals game on TV here. I’ll probably rock the Harrison jersey… stopping Palmer will be the key to the game. Anything I can do to encourage Harrison to bury his facemask into Palmer’s kidneys will help.

Anyone have Kimo Von Olhoffen’s phone number?

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