What We Learned After Week 5 In The NFL:
- The hits keep on coming in Philly and the Eagles look awful
- The Raiders win one for Al
- It’s Tebow Time in Denver
- The Vikings managed to not blow a lead
- The Steelers returned to form with 5 td’s from Ben
When all was said and done after the 5th Sunday of the NFL season some questions were answered and some teams still look questionable. Football proves once again to be a game of emotions with the Raiders able to hold out for the win in Houston after the loss of their legendary owner Al Davis. Tim Tebow got his shot to lead Denver within a Hail Mary pass to win the game after another disappointing start for Kyle Orton. It seems like it is possible for Minnesota to hold onto a first half lead to win a game, much to the help from Adrian Peterson. Can the Eagles really be this bad? How is it that the Bungles aren’t sucking as much as we want them to?
So it looks like some questions will take a little longer to be answered but what was answered in Pittsburgh on Sunday was just how much can Max Starks contribute after playing in his first game in 11 months? Answer: A whole friggin lot! Ben was rarely pressured in the pocket, I did notice his release was much quicker though, and was only sacked once after coming into this game with the 3rd most sacks in the league. The running game finally seemed to get going with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman accounting for 156 yards in replace of an injured Rashard Mendenhall. When Tomlin was asked about not using Mendy (who dressed but did not play) at all in the game he responded,
“We didn’t need him. The thought there was, if we can get out of here not utilizing him, it would benefit him in the long run, and for us it would be better. Thankfully we were able to do that.”
Yes, that’s what we saw, “the long run” by Dwyer and Redman. North-South running, with extra efforts, good blocking from the line, and minimal dancing or stutter steps at the line of scrimmage. All things Steeler fans saw from Mendy in the preseason and training camp, but not yet in the regular season. Now I’m not saying Mendy should lose his starting job. I’m just saying that Redman should totally start instead of him.
Tomlin and Special Teams Coach Al Everest even went to some trickery in the first half, pulling out a fake punt that resulted in a 33 yard pass from Sepulveda to Ryan Mundy on a 4th and 5 at midfield. The drive stayed alive and was capped off by a vintage Roethlisberger to Ward td pass in the back of the end zone. When Tomlin was asked about the play he said,
“We weren’t going to leave any bullets in the gun. It was important that we started fast and competed. I saw an opportunity there, and I took advantage of it.”
The offense would not have been able to garner and sustain that momentum if not for the play of the defense. Starting without Hampton, Smith, and Harrison, the defense was under the gun for their lack of ability to stop the run in the first 4 games. A few players such as, LaMarr Woodley had come under criticism for sub-par play after signing big contracts in the offseason. Woodley responded with 1 and ½ sacks and the Steelers defense’s first interception of the year. The defense finally looked like themselves again holding Johnson to 51 yards and sacking Hasselbeck 3 times. Tomlin’s response to Woodley’s play on defense was,
“He did a nice job today. We needed the performance that he gave us. I think he understands that, as do we.”
All in all I think that the biggest shock of the game came from the play of Max Starks. After injuries to Gilbert and Pouncey during the game, Starks ended up playing damn near every snap and Ben and the running game had protection the likes of which we have not yet seen this year. How is this possible that after 3 practices Starks can come out and contribute this much? I have no idea, but I’m stoked. It’s not like Ben has Brady-like protection yet. Hell, Brady has the time to write is friggin memoirs in the pocket before he completes a pass. But, with Ben already playing through injury, it sure was great to see him not battered like Tina Turner throughout the game. This is definitely a step in the right direction for the Steelers, on both sides of the ball. With the next two games at home against Jax and in Arizona, the Steelers could be putting themselves in a much better position when the Patriots come to town on October 30th. Tomlin’s response to not appearing too happy with the win on Sunday was,
“We won. I am ready to move on.”
Well said Tomlin. I am ready too. Bring it on Week 6!
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