The 2009 NFL season is officially underway. Â In front of a record home crowd of 65, 110 all dressed in black and gold, the Steelers narrowly defeated the Titans 13-10 in the opening game of the season.
THAT was ugly Â ladies and gentleman. Â But I will take the check in the win column and keep on moving.
“We were not a perfect team by any stretch, but it was good to maybe learn some lessons with a â€œW.â€ We were fortunate to get it because that is a good football team and we respect the heck out of those guys. Hopefully we will learn some lessons so the road will be a little less bumpy next time. Such is life in the NFL. We will take the victory. I liked the way the guys stayed together.” ~ Mike Tomlin
Yes, I know, I know – Steelers football is 60 minutes (or more).
Still, unless the Rooney’s are willing to pay my medical bills, I’d like to see games with less of an impact on heart health and blood pressure.
I’m not even sure where to begin. Â The game just started sloppy and looked like it was being played in slow motion. Â However, Ben threw 33 of 43 for 363 yards and a TD. Â It looked a lot like backyard football, wasn’t pretty at all, but wow – Ben actually put up some numbers.
How’d that happen you might ask? Â Well, I just got done checking the Amber alerts, and while no one has reported missing a running game – WE DON’T HAVE ONE! Parker was limited to 19 yards on 13 carries. Â In fact, the only “breakout” (term used loosely) was on a 9 yard carry that was brought back because of a holding call on Hines Ward. Â It seems to me, if the Steelers wanted to win, there was no choice BUT to pass. Â I don’t get caught up in that, “The Steelers are a run game kind of team” nonsense. Â I mean, truth is, we’re a run game team when we CAN run the ball, but if you can’t – THROW. Â There are plenty of passing teams that win. What’s the big deal? (other than pass protection which I will address in a minute)
We have great receivers. Santonio has not had a season yet for more than 1,000 yards but I think this is definitely his breakout year. Â Last night, as always, he had some clutch plays at opportune times. Â He had 9 receptions for a total of 131 yards and scored the first TD (and points in general) in the 2009 NFL season. Â Hines had 8 catches for 103 yards and likely would have scored at the end of the 4th quarter if the ball hadn’t been stripped out of his hands with 51 seconds at the Tennessee 4 yardline. Â At the very least, that play would have set up Jeff Reed for the field goal.
One note on the pass game – shout out to rookie Mike Wallace for making a key 22 yard reception and in decent coverage.
Dear Bruce Arians: Please work in some more plays with TE Heath Miller! The guy had 8 receptions for 64 yards – all at key moments. First down type moments. He’s one of the best tight ends in the league, we just signed him for 6 more years. Please use him!
The O-line that started the game versus the O-line that finished the game were slightly different, though no personnel changes were made. Â I’m not sure what made the difference, other than maybe Tennessee backing off on the blitz, but whatever it was, it worked. Â Adding to the total career sack count (nearly 200?), Ben was hammered 4 times last night in a primarily defensive struggle.
The overall defense started a little rusty as well. That is except Troy. He had a crazy first half. It was filled with typical Troy tackles made by running from the other side of the field to the ball carrier and an interception, as well as some uncharacteristic personal foul calls (on a hit out of bounds and a face mask, as well as questionable pass interference call). Â Troy is just special. Â So special in fact, that his injury late in the first half on a blocked Titans field goal attempt significantly affected the Steelers secondary. Â I think Ty Carter is a good safety and with Troy out an estimated 3-6 week with that sprained MCL, he’s got to be. The consistency of playing together each week in big games will force everyone to get it together.
Going into this season, I predicted the Steelers to have a 12-4 year. Â Tennesee is a team I *thought* might result in one of those 4 losses. Â It didn’t, and for that, I am glad. Â The point here is – Tennessee is a good team. Â Even though they lost Haynesworth, their defense is still really strong. Â Their blitzing had the Steelers O-line on their toes. Â But by overtime, the O-line had come together and given Ben more time to throw than I think I have ever seen him have. Pass protection has definitely improved.
Our defense will have to learn to stop the opposing team’s run game. Â Chris Johnson was able to break free several times resulting in key first downs for the Titans. Â He’s a great back, fast. Â And out of the Steelers schedule, there are plenty of other good running backs to face – defense needs to shut that down.
Next week – Chicago Bears at Soldier field. Let’s have a better showing of Steeler football.