Week 7 Recap: Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

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Poor Fitzy

Pop Quiz:   How are the Pittsburgh Steelers like a woman’s period?

Answer:  When it comes time to show up, it’s always better late than never.

Yesterday’s 38-10 dismantling of the Cincinnati Bengals wasn’t as easy as the score might indicate.  If you watched the first quarter, then decided to:

– Watch 45 minutes of “Contact”
– Burn a mix CD for a “friend”
– Go on a Starbucks run
– Watch a quarter of woman’s volleyball on ESPNU
– Play Metal Gear Solid

And came back just in time to see the Human Victory Cigar, QB Byron Leftwich, throw a final TD pass in the 4th quarter, you’d probably think, “Easy win.”

But you’d be wrong.  Very very wrong.   For you see, something happened between the beginning and end of the game.  Somewhere in there the Steelers decided to make things interesting by playing down to the level of their opponents.  And that’s why what should have been a merciless smashing at halftime turned into a meager 10-7 advantage.

I couldn’t believe what was unfolding before my eyes.  The Steelers went up by 10 in the first quarter while limiting the inept Bungles to 20 yards of total offense.  Evidently defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau decided this was an insurmountable lead and put our D into prevent.

Maybe it wasn’t actually prevent but it sure looked like it.   All our DBs started playing 10-15 yards off the wide receivers, allowing QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to complete passes at will.  The LBs weren’t helping matters either as the most fearsome pass rush in the NFL failed to get anywhere near the Bengal signal caller.  On the flip side, QB Ben Roethlisberger and the offense went from moving the ball at will to a complete standstill.  I blame Bruce Arians for no other reason than he’s Bruce Arians.

Luckily, the Steelers woke up and realized they were the Steelers by the start of the fourth and the route was on.  A three TD avalanche in the final frame accompanied by some stifling defense restored the universe to proper order.  The final stats are pretty impressive if you just look at the game on paper.  But to Cincy’s credit, they found a way to (once again) hang around much longer than their meager talent had any right letting them.

RB Mewelde Moore has clearly established himself as an absolute gem of a free agent pick-up.  He rushed for 120 yards and scored 3 TDs in relief of Pothole Willie Parker.  Whatever they’re paying this guy, it’s a steal.  Speaking of stealing money, $7 million dollar benchwarmer OT Max Starks got his first action of the season and did a decent job as the line managed to keep Big Ben from getting sacked for the first time this year.  Of course, this is more a function of Cincy’s terrible defense than awesome pass blocking but we’ll take what we can get.  I did notice RG Darnell Stapleton made several crushing blocks to spring Moore on running plays so the Steelers might have found something there.

When the defense looked good, man did it look good.  Blitzburgh finished with 7 sacks, all by our linebackers.   James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley had 2 apiece and Lawrence Timmons (starting for the first time this year) chipped in 2 more.  I never thought I’d see a better group than the Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland foursome back in the early 90’s but these guys might be it.   The only bad play was by our CBs but that seemed to be more a result of being told to give the Cincy WRs too much respect.  Bryant McFadden was getting dissected by Fitzy on their lone TD.  He later left the game with an injury so that might explain how our best CB went down the tubes so quickly.   And S Troy Polamalu, doing his part to keep the NFL from becoming a pansy game, left after getting concussed on a devastating helmet-popping collision in the third quarter.

Didn’t matter, however, as by the end of the game the Steelers went into full mop up mode.  The hapless Cleveland Browns went down in flames again to the Wash Redfaces (who’ll we will be seeing in a couple weeks) so their one week resurgence lasted exactly one week.  Pesky Baltimore defeated the Miami Dolphins Wildcats to hang around in the division but after playing them, does anybody consider them a threat?   The next three games see us play the Giants, Colts, and Skins so I guess we’ll get a chance to see exactly how good we are in the coming weeks.  So far the Steelers have been flying comfortably under the radar but a few big wins and that’ll all change really fast as the NFL media looks for the Next Big Story.

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Tags: Afc Arians Baltimore Big Ben Bozo Clowno Browns Chad Brown Cincinnati Cleveland Fitzpatrick Giants Greene Harrison Harvard Idiots Kirkland Lebeau Lloyd Mewelde Miami Moore New York Nfc NFL Nyc Ocho Cinco Polamalu Quarterbacks Roethlisberger Silverback Ward Washington Woodley

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