Well, replacement referee controversy aside, I for one am so glad on this Monday that my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers aren't 0-2. After watching the New York Jets put up 48 points against the Buffalo Bills last week, and with news that both Troy Polamalu and James Harrison were going to have to sit this one out -- it seemed like the odds weren't in the Steelers' favor. But, after winning their 10th consecutive home opener 27-10 against the Jets, the Steelers are hopefully on their way to prove all the naysayers, like me, wrong.
After Tim Tebow magically Tebowed his way through the Steelers during the 2011 AFC playoffs... that still stings ... and Steelers' fans rather antagonistic, mixed feelings toward Santonio Holmes (that stunt pinning Ike Taylor's feet between his -- not so cool, dude) (but damnit, you won us a Super Bowl) (still, hey, thanks for all those dropped passes on Sunday!), it was great to see the Steelers shut these two players down. Kudos to our notoriously stingy defense. Well, it's not like Tebow had much of an opportunity, though he did manage to run for 22 yards up in the middle on one play. That resulted in a chorus of boos from Steelers fans, and I expect Tebow will get booed by Steelers fans wherever he goes for the rest of the foreseeable future.
The Steelers, both offensively and defensively, seemed to find a rhythm and settle into things after the hype of week 1. Ben Roethlisberger didn't throw a game-ending pick this week and instead threw for 2 touchdowns. It's great to see tight end Heath Miller utilized and catching balls and scoring TDs. Antonio Brown had 7 catches, and Mike Wallace even had 5 (hey, welcome back, Mike!). Wallace's picture-perfect catch for 6 points in the endzone was the highlight of the game. I think there were just a couple blades of grass between his feet and out-of-bounds after he faked out his coverage. Truly great stuff. Thanks for not leaving us this season, Mike. And the Steelers were able to put together some awesome, clock-eating drives on offense, as they were able to do last week. In the second half, they put together drives of 11 plays for 80 yards, and then another one for 14 plays for 75 yards. Might be the new staple for Todd Haley, the new offensive coordinator?
Congrats to Ben for becoming the second quarterback in franchise history to throw for 27,000 yards too. Terry Bradshaw of course went for 27,989. I'm sure Ben will catch up to that rather quickly.
Though the defense's two main stars were out, other guys like Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark, Lawrence Timmons, and Ryan Mundy all stepped up to shut down the Jets' "high-powered", "surging" offense. The Jets converted only 4 of 12 third downs. Sanchez completed only 6 of his final 22 pass attempts. Add a turnover and picture-perfect field goal kicking and you got yourself a solid Steelers win.
The running game? Eh, probably the one eyebrow-raiser in an otherwise flawlessly executed game. The Steelers are averaging a measly 2.6 yards per carry this season. They ran for 66 yards against the Jets, and six plays resulted in negative yardage -- some for 6 or 7 yards! Also, they got half those yards on one drive. It's still very strange to see the offense transitioning from run-dependent to pass-happy, but I don't think too many will be complaining as long as we keep winning. Otherwise, I'm eagerly awaiting injured Rashard Mendenhall's return -- reports say he may make an appearance against the Oakland Raiders next week.
Overall, it was great to see the Steelers step up in what coach Mike Tomlin called "redemption week." Getting out of a 0-2 hole can be tough for any team. Even with some of the most "famous" guys not making an appearance, the Steelers showed off their depth and proved that they were more than a couple big names. Holding the Jets to 219 total yards after the Jets went psychotic on the Bills last week means there's a whole lot more to the team than we might have realized last week against the Denver Broncos (thank goodness). Kind of hoping we see Denver & Peyton again down the road ... granted, Sanchez is no Manning, but still. Could be fun to try for some revenge.
Though I had a rather sluggish outlook on the season this year (too many changes, too many guys retiring, where's Hines Ward???), I saw enough of a spark that will hopefully at least power us through the Oakland Raiders next week and into the bye (already?). And in other exciting news, the Philadelphia Eagles won against the Baltimore Ravens as well, who looked rather unbeatable next week. Goes to show how much stock we should put in week 1, eh? As usual, the race for the division is shaping up to be an exciting one. But as of now, a solid, uncharacteristically non-exciting win for the Steelers -- it usually comes down to the wire for this team. I truly appreciate the lack of a hangover today! Until next week.