Well Steeler Nation, after the black and gold convincingly defeated the Titans on Sunday, I think everyone can share in an enormous sigh of relief knowing that at least for now the team is back on track.
The litany of players who could take the game ball for Sunday’s performance is a virtual who’s who of Steeler veterans who showed this team is not too old, or too slow (Farrior aside) to make another run at the title this year. Big Ben’s five- touchdown performance on an injured foot is stuff of legends. Hines Ward catching two touchdown passes; including a leaping effort into the end zone over Titans defensive backs is stuff of fairy tales. And plugging in an aging Max Starks, who was sitting on his couch watching football the weekend before, and having him protect Ben’s blind side like he hadn’t missed a beat, was amazing.
I had to mention all of those individual players because they are the leaders of this football team, and their efforts are a direct link to the upswing in the Steeler’s performance. I mean c’mon man…..all week the team was told it couldn’t stop the run anymore, that Chris Johnson was going to be able to walk faster into the end zone then the team could run after him. And believe me, I was taking some of the bait. After Johnson broke that 30-yard run to start the game I certainly had an empty feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Than Ryan Clark was hit with that bogus roughing call to put the Titans in the red zone and I thought to myself here we go again. But this time there was no again. The Steelers clamped down and held the Titans to a field goal on the opening drive and the rest of the game was history.
While there are certainly other players who deserve to be given credit for the team’s performance this past weekend, I want to talk about one player in particular who has impressed me, and I believe may have a bright future.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis has turned my head a number of times this season, and with the ever-depreciating value of Bryant McFadden, Lewis is the Steelers best option to start as the No. 2 corner. Lewis’ stats on the season do not blow you away. He has 13 tackles, two passes defended, and 0 interceptions. But it is the famous eye-test you hear so much about that has me on Lewis’ bandwagon. There were a number of passes I saw on Sunday where Hasselbeck tried to make opposite shoulder throws, which on many accounts are impossible for the defensive player to guard. But Lewis was able to play those passes perfectly, standing up Titan receivers and not allowing them to come back for the ball. Lewis has always been touted as a physical specimen at 6ft, 210 pounds. The knock on Lewis was that he was unable to fully grasp the playbook, and was often out of position. Well those days might be over. I don’t want to make Lewis out to be the next Revis or anything like that, I’m simply saying that with everything that went right this Sunday, Lewis’ name should be thrown into the celebration as well. It can only be beneficial for the team to find another shutdown corner to play with Ike Taylor.