It wasn’t pretty to watch, but a win is a win. After looking completely impotent in their running game last night, the Steelers managed to pull out a win as they defeated the Tennessee Titans 13-10 in their season opener.
There was plenty of hype heading into the game as the reigning Super Bowl champs took on the team that had the best record in the AFC last year. As if that weren’t enough, the Titans had beaten the Steelers last year in a head-to-head match-up. To add insult to injury, several Titans players desecrated a Terrible Towel following their win, making many Steelers fans view this game as a chance for revenge.
But when the whistle blew and the game began, all thoughts of last year went out the window, and both teams knew that they needed to focus on the present.
For fan however, there were many aspects of the game that reminded us of last year. Firstly, the offensive line looked eerily similar to last year (and that’s not a good thing). They seemed to let the Titans’ defense hit Ben Roethlisberger at will.
Roethlisberger ended the game having been sacked only 4 times, but anyone who watched the game knows that he was pressured far more than that. He seemed to be running for his life most of the game.
To be fair, the offensive line seemed to improve as the game went on. In the second half of the game there seemed to be several occasions when Ben seemed to have all of the time that he could possibly ask for. But overall, I don’t think there are many fans who will be happy if the offensive line looks like that for the rest of the season.
Another aspect of the game that seemed like deja vu was the Steelers’ running game (or lack thereof). The running backs struggled to gain even the tiniest amounts of yardage on the ground. Willie Parker gained a total of 19 yards on 13 carries for whopping 1.5 yards per carry. Rashard Mendenhall didn’t do any better, also averaging 1.5 yards per carry. Finally, the Steelers benched Parker and went to Mewelde Moore who went on to average 1.6 yards per carry.
Did the Steelers have anyone who could average more than 2 yards per carry? Oh yeah, Big Ben averaged 3 yards per rushing attempt. Not quite the place that I was hoping to find effective running, but I guess we’ll have to take what we can get.
The Steelers finished the game with a total of 36 yards rushing. That’s right, 36 yards. Those sound like the type of rushing numbers that the Steelers defense is supposed to hold their opponents to. But it’s definitely not the type of output that we want to see from our running backs on a regular basis.
Fortunately, there were other aspects of the game that also reminded us of last year’s Steelers. The defense was stingy as usual. They held Titans running backs Chris Johnson and LenDale White under 100 yards for the game. In fact, “Smash & Dash” had to settle for a combined 85 yards on the ground.
Ben Roethlisberger also looked like the Big Ben of 2008. He led the team to another one of those last cardiac inducing wins that we got so used to seeing last year. Big Ben almost delivered a last second win in the 4th quarter, but Hines Ward fumbled the ball on the Titans 4 yard line. So the Steelers had to settle for delivering a nail-biter win in overtime as Jeff Reed booted a game winning field goal.
Just like he did in 2008, Roethlisberger often looked most effective when the Steelers went to their no-huddle offense. Is it just me, or does anyone else notice that the offense is most effective when they go to the no-huddle and remove Bruce Arians’ from the equation?
Roethlisberger ended the game with one of the best statistical performances of his career. He completed 33 of 43 pass attempts for a total of 363 yards.
Despite the win, Steelers fans couldn’t be completely happy following the game. We learned in the post-game press conference that Steelers safety Troy Polamalu had suffered an MCL strain, and will miss 3-6 weeks nursing the injury. That definitely added a sour note to an otherwise joyful occasion.
It wasn’t a pretty game to watch, but a win is a win. The Steelers are now 1-0, and have the best record in the NFL (I like the sound of that).
By beating a quality team like the Titans, the Steelers announced to the rest of the NFL that they are again going to be a team to be reckoned with. More importantly, they took their first step up the stairway to seven.
(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page. Thanks.)