Steelers @ Cincinnati: The Good,
the Bad, & the Ugly
Standing firm in our belief that late is better than never (having a real job can disrupt one's blogging routine enormously), we offer our assessment of the Steelers' victory last Sunday.
- There can be no doubt about what the best thing about last Sunday's game was ~ Mewelde Moore. We mentioned after the Jacksonville game that if he could keep up his good play he might be a free agent signing on par with James Farrior and Jeff Hartings. Two consecutive good games does not a career make, but 120 yards on 20 carries, and two touchdowns does a great deal to elevate opinions about your skills.
- The offensive line did a good job on Sunday ~ Mr. Mewelde's rushing totals are evidence of that, as is the fact that Ben Roethlisberger went an entire game without being sacked (the first time that has happened since December 2, 2007 when the Steelers faced . . . Cincinnati). However our enthusiasm for the performance is tempered somewhat by the fact that Cincinnati's defense has held an opponent to fewer than 100 yards rushing once this season (the Jets gained 86 yards) and has sacked opposition quarterbacks five times. But there's no sense in being negative ~ the Steelers offensive line went against an inferior opponent and managed to perform well enough to win
- A little shout-out for Darnell Stapleton! We love the smart, physical brand of football he is playing. Time will tell whether or not he can continue to perform at this level (next Sunday versus the Giants defensive front should tell us plenty), but it has been a promising start.
- What happened to the Steelers offense in the second and third quarters? The Steelers offense netted ninety-five yards of total offense on twenty-two plays (an average of 4.32 yards per play) in the middle two stanzas of the game, compared to 300 yards on 37 plays (8.11 yards per play) in quarters one and four. It was during that same stretch ~ i.e. the middle two quarters ~ that the Bengals had their best stretch of play, and made what should have been (and eventually became) a blowout a tightly contested match. More disturbing was that the Pittsburgh offense seemed, during that stretch, to be completely befuddled by Cincinnati's defense ~ a notion seemingly too ridiculous to be believed, but the numbers never lie, right? It can certainly be argued that the Steelers' offense wore down the defense of the Bengals, however more consistent play throughout each game is the hallmark of elite teams.
- Bryant McFadden out with a broken forearm.
Troy Polamalu with a concussion.
The injury bug continues to bite the Steelers, virtually unabated. With games against the NFC East over the next two weeks the backups are certain to be tested dearly.