I don’t know about the other Steelers fans, but my heart stopped several times during the game. The dropped passes, the fumble, and the interception in the first half all made it seem like everything was going to continue to go against the Steelers. They were their own worst enemy. I can only imagine that the players were exponentially more frustrated than I was. Then what we have been waiting for (at least, what I have been waiting for) happened: Woodley made an interception and there was a spark! Without much time left in the game, the Steelers pushed the ball down the field. The last drive of the first half was exciting. Suddenly, the run was working, the passes were being caught, and they looked efficient. What a relief. To see that really raised my spirits. I saw players who believed in each other. Roethlisberger could have quit throwing to Wallace or Tomlin could have benched him, but they stayed calm. They had faith it would work itself out and it did. (I was beginning to wonder if I needed start a petition to allow “stick’em” back into the game.)
I’m not saying everything is perfect, but there were things to cheer about compared to the last few games. It is heartening that the Steelers didn’t let the offensive mistakes in the first half get the better of them. It didn’t become a mental defeat. The defense still seemed out of sync and confused at times, but you have to give the Bengals some credit too. They went into the no-huddle on 3rd down a few times and it worked for them. The Steelers defense was left scrambling and the Bengals converted. But, the Steelers’ defense had their moments too. Dalton was pressured several times. Ike Taylor, who had such a rough game in Tennessee, eliminated A.J. Green’s threat except for one touchdown. On the downside, the special teams’ penalties during the kick-returns must have had Tomlin ready to throw something. I love passion, but that got old really quick!
I watched Tomlin’s interview with Bob Costas and he has got to be one of the most even-keeled coaches out there. Costas mentioned the negative sports radio broadcasts and blogs (mine among them) and he chuckled and said he welcomed them. He understands it is part of the business and he understands the passion of Steeler’s fans. He said what I have been saying. It’s not so much that Steelers fans travel to all the games, it’s that Steelers fans are everywhere. Tomlin gets it about the fan base. I’m sure that there is a large portion of Steeler’s fans who travel, but that does not account for all the Terrible Towels at the game. (Every time I think of the Terrible Towel, I hear Myron Cope’s voice.) I’ve lived in a lot of places since moving from western PA almost 30 years ago and everywhere I went, I’ve managed to find a contingent of Steelers fans. It’s not geography, it’s the Steelers. Road wins are important for more than just putting one in the W column. There’s always a home crowd in the stadium.
This win, against a division rival, is a huge shot in the arm for the Steelers. They needed momentum and they needed to come together as a team. That’s one of the things I have enjoyed about being a Steelers fan. I love watching them just keep digging and playing FOR each other. Most of all, I like watching them enjoy playing. Yeah, it was a close game, but it’s a W. A win is great medicine. A win against a division rival is medicine that tastes like candy.