|Against All Odds...|
|Written by Cotter|
|September 27, 2010 00:00|
Football is a physical game, but it requires two major mental attributes (among others) - balls, and heart.
Brains help - Troy Polamalu (among others) is a living example of that.
But really, it's about going out there, thinking you're going to rip someone's head off (physically or metaphorically depending on whether you're James Harrison or not), and then doing it.
There's no room for crying over spilled milk, bad breaks or second guessing. And you can't prepare for battle thinking you're going to lose. It's really amazing that for a physical game, a lot of times the difference between winning and losing arguably can be mental. And when you've got a team that thrives on doing the improbable, chances are it's got both balls and certainly heart.
Very few people outside of the Steelers locker room expected them to be 3-0 at this point. We all prayed for at least 2-2, just get to Week 5 with the best record possible. Certainly no one thought it was impossible, but even with a fully healthy and non-suspended team, 3-0 isn't exactly easy in today's NFL.
And by the same token, I'm not sure if anyone saw Charlie Batch stepping in and doing the solid job he did on Sunday. I'll be the first to admit - I was worried about Chuck. Not just about him getting injured, but about whether or not he could make the plays necessary to get a win, even if it was against the "weakest" team we were going to face over these first four weeks. After all, I'm not sure he even took ONE snap with the 1st team before last week.
But with the odds seemingly against him, Chuck came out and had a career game (granted he had a LOT of help from his friends). And despite everyone's uncertainty, the Steelers have put together a string of wins and currently find themselves one of only two teams out of the 32 in the league that are an undefeated 3-0 (although either the Packers or Bears will also join those ranks tonight, since both are currently 2-0).
Now, don't make the mistake of thinking that Chuck's so-called "career game" means he should be starting more than just this week and next. Inevitably, there have been plenty of people who now think that one successful spot start means that Charlie Batch should continue to lead the team even after Big Ben's suspension is lifted (PTI's Michael Wilbon, for example). While I'm beyond ecstatic that Chuck was as successful as he was Sunday, I'm not crazy, OR blind. Yes, Batch had a couple of fine throws that eventually made their way into Mike Wallace's hands, but both were close calls and a LOT went the Steelers way on Sunday.
Anyway, with one for the books now IN the books, we move on to next week against the Ravens at Heinz Field. The Ravens, of course, can never really be judged by what they've done in weeks prior when it comes to this rivalry. I'm pretty sure we could both be 0-15 and any Steelers-Ravens game would still be destined to be an epic bloodbath.
Nevertheless, the Ravens managed to get by the Browns Sunday by just a mere touchdown, one week after losing 15-10 to the Bangles, and two weeks after barely scraping one out 10-9 against the Jets high-powered check down offense.
Still, if I told you I knew what this game had in store, I'd be lying.
In any case, this has gone on long enough. Let's just get this recap over with so we can move on to bigger and better things...
Take the plunge with me after the jump!
Things That Were Awesome:
1. Chaz Batch
I'm not sure his final numbers even do his performance proper justice.
12/17 for 186 yards and three TDs, and five rushes for 26 yards (PS - totally didn't realize he even "ran it" five times).
But that doesn't even tell you about the two 40+ yard throws on which he connected with Mike Wallace, OR the 24 yards he gained on 3rd and 6 to set the Steelers up just outside the red zone, and several plays later, six points off of a Rashard Mendenhall run.
Plus, what a post-game shirt...
If that doesn't say "hero," I don't know what does.
2. The Punisher
19 carries, 143 yards and a touchdown.
That's a 7.5 yard average.
And how's this - the Bucs only gave up 93 total rushing yards to the Browns, but the Ravens gave up 173 total rushing yards to the Browns.
So if football games were played on paper, I'd say look for Mendenhall to run for 1,189,734 yards on Sunday.
3. Defensive Dominance
I couldn't possibly give out individual accolades when the entire Defense was just as suffocating on Sunday as it has been all season so far.
If there was one play that stuck out, it was probably Keisel's bearded 79-yard pick six.
But Lawrence Timmons was EVERYWHERE yesterday, leading the team in tackles yet again (not to mention contributing one of four sacks), both LaMarr Woodley and Ziggy Hood almost picked off Josh Freeman, of course Keisel DID pick off Josh Freeman, Ryan Clark recovered a "fumble" caused by Farrior, and despite holding the ball for more than half of the game, the Buccaneers only put up two field goals and a BS garbage-time touchdown.
Shit, I think anytime you can say Billy Gay, Nick Eason and Jason Worilds/Stevenson Sylvester each got a sack, you pretty much know it was a good day for the Steelers defense.
If the Browns defense can hold Ray Rice (who is now apparently hurt) to under 100 yards, and the Bengals defense can pick Joe Flacco FOUR times, I can't wait to see what the Steelers D can do.
4. Mike Wallace
3 catches, 100 yards, 2 TDs.
I couldn't possibly encapsulate in my own words how sick Mike Wallace was in making both TD catches yesterday.
And how huge was the first one, one play after running a double reverse for -1 yards?
When the Steelers jump on top like that, scoring points early, it changes everything. It opens up a lot more possibilities and allows the defense to play a little more aggressively.
They did it last week in Tennessee and they did it again yesterday in Tampa.
And how about that pass that got tipped right into Wallace's waiting arms?
That's how close that shit was...
5. The O-Line
Even with The Big Legursky starting for Trai Essex, and the recently banged up Max Starks and Chris Kemoeatu starting, the Steelers o-line didn't allow ONE guy to take Charlie down.
As in, the number of times I've thought Carson Palmer was an elite QB.
Things That Were NOT Awesome:
1. Ike Taylor's Hands...
If corners could catch, they'd be wide receivers.
And truth be told, you put anyone out there looking back over their shoulder trying to catch a bomb, it ain't exactly the easiest thing to do.
If I wanted to live in the past, I'd have figured out a way to capture Ike's epic dropped interception for posterity.
But with a final score of 38-13, who cares?
2. What's Up With Mewelde Moore?
Last year, the guy was Captain 1st down.
This year, he's not even a swab on the deck.
Whatevs, three games (and three wins) in, it's pretty tough to worry about your 3rd string RB all that much.
3. Remember the Time Earnest Graham Caught a Pass for 46 Yards on the Steelers Defense?
Since when do the Steelers have trouble with "big" backs?
4. The Reverse Can...
How's this for a plan - you haven't gained jack shit on the ground, and you haven't threatened anyone with the pass yet, so why not try a DOUBLE reverse?
I thought we went through this a couple of years ago.
I hate to even mention it, because outside of this play, you can't really complain about the playcalling.
But seriously, I don't think I've EVER seen the Steelers successfully execute a reverse.
At least not in the last three or four years.
5. Going for it on 4th Down and Not Making It
Mostly the not making it part.
You know what? I actually don't care that they went for it at all.
They were up 28-6, and at the Bucs 37 yard line.
Anytime you can give your defense an extra play or two to rest when you're playing in 90 degree heat, I'm all for it.
Things That Made Me Reach for the Paxil:
1. Raheem Morris' Day
The student has not yet become the teacher.
2. Chuck's First Pass of the Game
Another reason to be overjoyed with the game's result?
Chaz's first throw, which resulted in a pick at the Steelers 31.
Certainly didn't instill any confidence whatsoever and could've easily led to a six point deficit, instead of three.
Let's not forget that for as well as Chuck played, he still chucked two picks.
You do that against the Ravens, and you might not like the result.
3-5. I Got Nothing...
You find me something else worthy of this list.
Ain't gonna happen.
And finally, the latest Yinz Luv Da Stillers...
So, now it's on to the Ravens.
Get penalized 15 times a game and then cry about it for the next three years?
Now, feel free to deposit your thoughts on this game, whether or not Joe Flacco's unibrow is affecting his vision, or Mrs. T's pierogis, in the comments.
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