What We Learned in Week 9 in the NFL:
- Luck has the Colts better off than anyone predicted
- Chicago defense rips apart Tennessee
- Falcons remain unbeaten
- Steelers battle Giants and Refs and come out on top
Don’t look now but the Steelers are stacking wins. This is one of those weeks where I find myself searching for things to say about the other games that were played before I can just go on and on about the Steelers. Actually, there were some pretty poor matchups on the slate for Week 9 across the board. The Colts reached 5-3 after a very good performance by Andrew Luck against a very good Dolphins defense. Chicago completely obliterated Tennessee and continued their streak of scoring defensive touchdowns. The Atlanta Falcons remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team as the Cowboys continue to struggle living up to the constant hype that surrounds them no matter how crappy they are. Ok that’s enough, now onto the Steelers game.
First off, the Steelers altered their travel arrangements on Thursday by announcing the league was allowing them to arrive in New Jersey the morning of the game rather than the day before as their team hotel was without power because of Superstorm Sandy. By Saturday, the power was restored but the Steelers decided to keep their travel arrangements as to not displace any residents of New Jersey using the hotel as shelter. This is unprecedented as it is an NFL requirement that visiting teams travel no later than the afternoon the day before the game. Much was made about the change in the travel routine and what effect that would have on the Steelers. It proved to have no effect whatsoever.
Before the game started there was a moment of silence for the victims of the storm and a salute to the military in honor of the upcoming Veteran’s Day. Roger Goodell himself was in the building smiling and shaking hands and giving instructions to the referees to call the game the Giants way. First bad call was a 41 yard pass interference penalty on Kennan Lewis that, upon replay showed Lewis clearly making a play for the ball and even total homer Phil Simms was left scratching his head. If only that was the worst of the calls. Next came a “helmet to helmet” hit Ryan Clark was flagged for in the endzone on a 3rd on Victor Cruz that gave the Giants a brand new set of downs. Upon replay of that call, it shows clear as the light of day that Clark not only did not hit Cruz with or on his helmet, but rather below his shoulders, and also that it was not a late hit by any means. Even further, several minutes after the call that allowed the Giants a new set of downs to score a touchdown, they reported Cruz’s injury from that hit as a rib injury. That wasn’t even the worst call. On the Steelers ensuing possession, Ben Roethlisberger was called for a fumble after the ball came out and Michael Boley grabbed it and ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown, with the help of Jason Pierre-Paul knocking Heath Miller out of the way with a block in the back. Roethlisberger and the offense remained on the field during the booth review, confident the score would be called back and the play correctly called an incomplete pass. No such luck. Although this play looked so much like a perfect example of “The Tuck Rule” that in replays you can almost see Ben morph into Tom Brady and the Giants morph into the Raiders, the replay officials called the play a fumble and touchdown for the Giants. It’s almost as if Rogeez instructed the officials, “Hey guys if the Giants don’t win, that means the storm does.” I’m not outright saying Rogeez tried to screw the Steelers over intentionally, but he did end up in Atlanta for the Falcons Sunday Night game which means he didn’t stay for the entire game in New Jersey and in the second half the Steelers did benefit from some correct calls. Conspiracy theorists have at it.
Fortunately for the Steelers, the bad calls and mistakes they made did not distract the team from the task at hand. Isaac Redman was a beast and ran for 147 yards, obviously after I write a post calling for Dwyer to be the starter, Redman pulls out his best regular season performance of his career. I will give the majority of the credit to the offensive line. Mike Adams got burned a couple of times by Tuck and Pierre-Paul and Ben was sacked a few times but for the majority of the game, the O-line was on point. Ben threw only his 3rd interception of the season, but even that didn’t shake the confidence of the offense. Mike Wallace turned a 4-yard dump pass into a 51 yard touchdown run by smoking every member of the Giants and tremendously swinging the momentum of the game the Steelers way.
I would also like to do some gushing about the Steeler defense. Ryan Clark has been playing out of his mind this season. Keenan Lewis has validated all of the preseason confidence in him as the starting cornerback opposite Ike Taylor; who had an interception himself. The Steelers defense on the Giants final two possessions showed themselves to be the defense we all know and love. Holding the Giants to 2 very, very important 3 and outs allowed the Steelers to close the game out and seal the victory. The defense played so well you can almost excuse Tomlin’s decision to try for a fake field goal that was sniffed out by the Giants and stopped, because on the ensuing Giants possession the Steelers defense got them off of the field after 3 downs. This is the Steelers defense the rest of the league fears. They covered the Giants receivers like blankets and put pressure on Eli late in the fourth when the game was on the line. The defense held Eli to 10 of 24 and 125 yards and the Steelers played like the better team on all sides of the ball against the defending Super Bowl Champs.
Bad calls, bad decisions, adjusted travel arrangements, and more injuries didn’t derail the Steelers from taking care of business in New Jersey. This is the momentum that is very much needed as the Steelers will face the Ratbirds in 2 of their next 4 games. Bring it on Week 10!
Follow me on Twitter @Kimmy_KimKimM and follow all of NPC’s posts @NicePickCowherC