Steelers @ Miami: The Postgame comments
Sometimes you win games you should lose; and there seems little doubt that the Steelers played "well" enough to lose. Here are some thoughts:
- The Steelers may have lost the war despite winning the battle: Aaron Smith's value to the defense, specifically the rush defense, has been proven over and over. His torn tricep will, apparently, leave him sidelined for the remainder of the season; and one has to wonder how many more injuries Mr. Smith can return from at age 34. Whomever will be inserted into the lineup in Mr. Smith's place is unlikely to play at the consistently All-Pro level we have come to expect from the position.
- 88 played great: Rookie wideout/kick returner Emmanual Sanders showed some real fortitude. The fumble, especially for a young player, had to be devastating to him. But on the next kickoff Mr. Sanders did not force a return on the deep kickoff, though he must have wanted to badly. Mr. Sanders stayed patient, and the result was five kick returns for 144 yards, including a career best 48-yard return. It was an outstanding performance made all the more special by the poor start to the day.
- Flozell Adams must be the key to the running game: The 37 yards of rushing for Rashard Mendenhall was his lowest game total for the season. In fact, the next lowest total for Mr. Mendenhall was 69 yards in week two versus Tennessee. Perhaps even more telling is that Mr. Mendenhall had 30 yards of rushing in the first half. Whatever the reason(s) for such an anemic second half, the ground game took a big step backwards.
And for all the conspiracy theorists out there, referee Gene Steratore ~ who was unable to determine who had recovered Ben Roethlisberger's fourth quarter fumble ~ is from Pittsburgh.