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Dead Men Walking

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Patience Is A Virtue. So Is Troy Polamalu... E-mail
Written by Cotter   
December 07, 2010 14:34

Broken feet. 

Broken noses.

Broken TEs.

Broken Punter.

Broken Tackles (both the position and the maneuver).

All of these "breaks," and the game still boiled down to just three - a turnover and touchdown within a matter of a minute, and a major 4th down stop with under a minute left.

The NFL is full of talented athletes; men who are blessed with an exceptional ability to throw, catch, carry, defend, or kick a football. That's why any given week, any team can beat you. But the ones who win over and over are the ones who stay calm and disciplined in the face of adversity; the ones who are able to create plays, and find ways to win. 

The 2008 Steelers did this. 

Hell, the 2005 Steelers did this in the Super Bowl. 

They didn't play flawless games, but they made the big plays that made the difference between winning and losing. 

It's about playing the game for a full 60 minutes, because good teams can make big plays at any time. 

This was about as even of a fight as you'll ever see.

Even though the Steelers held the ball for almost 10 minutes longer than the Ravens, when the dust settled, the two teams were separated by a total of 19 yards (8 passing and 11 rushing), three first downs, and of course, only three points. 

The Steelers trailed in this game for about 57 minutes. 

As the game wore on, maybe you got a sense of impending doom, or maybe you realized that if you let a good team hang around long enough, they're going to find a way to beat you.

The Ravens learned that lesson again on Sunday the hard way.

After allowing the Ravens only a touchdown and a field goal through three quarters, the Steelers defense - nay, Troy Polamalu - came through big, stripping Joe Flacco and returning the fumble to the Ravens 9 yard line, where two plays later, Ben hit Ike Redman on a slant, who flexed his pythons through two guys to put the ball in the end zone and the Steelers on top. 

Then, despite giving the miracle man a little less than three minutes to work with, the Steelers defense came through again - forcing Joe Flacco to throw incomplete on 4th and 2, and putting the game to bed.  


Last year, the Steelers finished the season with nine total wins. This year, they've got nine wins with four games left to spare, and the division within their grasp. There's no room to get ahead of ourselves, but if you aren't fired up about where this team is right now, check yourself for a pulse. 

Yes, the Steelers continue to have (serious) concerns - mainly on the injury front, which is never encouraging. But this was a big test for them, at least from where I was standing. I try not to be too level-headed around here, lest my posts become boring; just enough to make you think I'm not delusional. But on the other side of this computer screen, no matter what I might write, deep down I'm realistic about the Steelers. And they've come through against a lot of decent teams this season, but you know if they couldn't play the Ravens tough and eke out a win (essentially for the division), it'd be tough to have faith that they could do it against any of the other playoff bound teams they'd have to face if they're fortunate enough to still be playing football after January 2. 

But they did just that on Sunday, despite all of the injuries, all of the penalties, and all of the other bullshit they've been dealing with this season. Instead of letting those things anchor them down and drown their season, they're determined to overcome them, and I for one, am psyched about the next four weeks (and hopefully beyond) of Steelers football.

PS - Before we get into the real cajones of this thing, congratulations to Rashard Mendenhall, who broke 1000 yards for the 2nd straight season on Sunday, and who despite only gaining 43 yards, ran hard and earned every one of those yards. Running on the Ravens ain't like running on the Bills, let's put it that way. He may have been averaging under three yards a carry, but he didn't let that stop him from giving all of his effort on every play, a week after carrying the ball a career-high 36 times. 

Rashard Mendenhall is a workhorse.



Now, with all this said, let's dive into the "Things That Were Awesome," "Things That Were NOT Awesome," and "Things That Made Me Want to Douse Myself in Lighter Fluid and Set Myself Ablaze," AKA, the recap.

Feel free to peruse the following nonsense at your own leisure (and discretion), and give us your thoughts in the comments (no, seriously)!

Things That Were Awesome:

1. David Johnson, Isaac Redman, Antonio Brown, Manny Sanders

The young guns strike again.

Shortly before Ben hit David Johnson for 25 yards on 1st down, Domski had texted me, "Who's going to make a play?"

Then, after that drive ended in a pick, on the next drive Johnson caught a 6 yard pass to convert on 4th and 2. 

3rd tight end or not, he definitely made his contributions known.

And Isaac Redman channeling Jerome Bettis, breaking through Dawan Landry and Jarrett Johnson's tackles, and rumbling into the end zone for the go ahead score. 

What a moment.

If I had any idea how to make a video slow motion, I'd slow that shit down and put this behind it...

[press play]

Just trust me when I tell you it'd be epic.


Let's also not forget Antonio Brown - three catches for 26 yards, including an 11 yarder on the 4th quarter field goal drive.

And of course, Manny Sanders...three catches for 49 yards, including the 28 yarder on 3rd and 11, inside Ravens territory. Plus, a sick special teams play where he came out of nowhere to drop David Reed at the Ravens 18. 


2. Polamolecules

It doesn't matter what else Troy Polamalu did on Sunday. This was enough for me. 

Clutch play. In a clutch moment. 

Troy Polamalu. 


No homo...obviously.

3. No One on the Corner Has Swagger Like Ike

Did you all like that Ike Taylor blitz as much as I did?

Ike Taylor sack!

That's like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs. 

Or Jeff Reed sober.

THAT rare. 

4. Don't Try and Pull That Cutesy Shit with The Wood
LaMarr Woodley scratches himself while thinking about sniffing out reverses. 

-11 yards on that 1st down play.

Suck it, Stallworth.

Oh yeah, it was also pretty cool when Woodley picked up that fumble and advanced it like 15 yards too.

5. Watching Chris Kemoeatu Run With a Fumble

That play is begging to be animated GIF'd. 

You find me the video, I'll make it happen. 

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Tubway, we have GIFage!

It's every bit as epic as I had hoped, and more.

Things That Were NOT Awesome:

1. Terrell Suggs

Technically, this is a matter of perspective. But, you know, when a guy sacks your QB basically twice, and is in his face on every other play, that's not exactly awesome from where I stand. 

Suggs' ending stat line - five tackles (three for a loss), 1.5 sacks, and FIVE QB hits. 


Every time he did his little dance, I threw up in my mouth. 

2. Ravens Converting on 4th and 2

But hey, too bad they only converted the one that DIDN'T decide the game. 


3. Hines and David Johnson on a Collision Course

Remember the time Hines Ward and David Johnson ran into each other running routes?


I'm sorry, I know that shouldn't be funny...

But how could it NOT be?


4. Bryant McFadden
[artist's rendition of Bryant McFadden vs. the Ravens on Sunday]

I can smell his performance from here.

Two pass interference penalties in a matter of like two minutes...

Abused all over the field.

Shake it off, B Mac.

Shake it off. 

5. Hines Ward Dropping What Would Have Been a 1st Down

Your guess is as good as mine.

Things That Made Me Want to Douse Myself in Lighter Fluid and Set Myself Ablaze:

1. Please, Spare Me

Oh, so you just let Troy Polamalu catch your "miracle man" off guard and strip him of the ball, then let Ben Roethlisberger fight off your rabid mutant beast with an unhealthy gum to tooth ratio to get rid of the ball on 1st down, and then let backup Isaac Redman break through Dawan Landry's and Jarret Johnson's tackles for the go ahead score? And I suppose then you just let Boldin get covered on that 4th down play, and let Joe Flacco think he was skipping rocks instead of playing QB?

GTFO, dude.

Take your loss like men.

You got beat in crunch time.


And here's your weekly wounded report...

Heath Miller - concussion (probably not playing on Sunday...just a guess)
Dan Sepulveda - torn ACL (IR)
Flozell Adams - high ankle sprain (may not play Sunday)
Ben - broken nose/foot (even all you can eat at the Old Country Buffet couldn't keep him from playing Sunday)
Joe Flacco - troy polamalu

And I might even add Bryant McFadden to that list because Anquan Boldin and friends hurt him all over the field on Sunday night.

The reality of the situation is the Steelers are now down to one regularly active TE, who thankfully is a fantastic blocker, and may lose their third Tackle of 2010. On top of that, they are now operating with a new Punter in Week 14.

Obviously the Miller and Adams injuries are bigger concerns, since hey, a good Punter goes a long way, but he won't necessarily break you.  Having no blocking depth left on a unit that already had less depth to it than Paris Hilton, which needs to be able to protect a QB with a broken foot, that ain't good. 

But despite the fact that blockers have been dropping like flies, the Steelers have done a serviceable job blocking for Ben so far. Maybe it's the running game we should be worried about. If my memory serves me, Mendehall's biggest runs this season have been to the right, where Flozell is. No Flozell, we could have a problem...or maybe you have more confidence in Trai Essex playing RT than I do.  

3. Two 60+ Yard 3rd Down Plays

I was so fired up after these plays, I'm not even going to try and come up with some playful, cute way to highlight them.

Stunned might be the best way to characterize my reaction. 

3rd and 15 from their own 3 yard line, and uh oh, WTF, Flacco to Boldin, 61 yards????

Then like a quarter later, 3rd and 6 from their own 6 yard line, and oops, Flacco to Stallworth, 67 yards??? 

Donte Stallworth!?!?!


4. That Little Brawl 

That was pretty cute, wasn't it?

Amazing, the shit the Steelers have been getting into after scores recently. 

How do we get into it with the Raiders and someone is ejected for throwing a punch, but not when we get into it with the Ravens?

I'm not really commenting on it, I'm just saying...

5. Where's the Flag?

I'm purposefully not posting any video of Jameel McClain's helmet-to-helmet meeting of the minds with Heath Miller, because if you watch it enough times, you might actually projectile throw up. 

Ok, the dude was fined $40,000 YESTERDAY. 

Why wasn't a flag thrown on SUNDAY, then?

Derp, let's just stare at each other with our thumbs up our asses for five minutes while Heath Miller is laying motionless.

Whatever, let's just get to the big finish... 

1. Bring in da noise, bring in Yinz Luv Da Stillers...

2. Stay in school, kids, or this could be you...

You know, they say pimpin' ain't easy. I'm guessing life ain't easy for this guy. 

3. This Santa is rooting for corporate sponsorships...

Which means I can post this video...

Yes, and it's the choice of a new generation.

4. Enjoy prison, you little delinquent...

5. This might be the best YouTube video ever...

No idea why I can't stop watching it. Or laughing.

Now, how good do you feel about 9-3?

And of course, what were your "Things That Were Awesome," "Things That Were NOT Awesome," and "Things That Made [You] Want to Douse Yourself in Lighter Fluid and Set Yourself Ablaze?" 

If you haven't already, become a fan of OFTOT on Facebook, and follow Cotter on Twitter. Or don't. Your choice, really.
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