It was far from flawless, but the Steelers are a win a way from the No. 2 seed and homefield advantage. And while there was a month’s worth of sloppiness crammed into 60 minutes, the Panthers were so god awful that the game was over midway through the second quarter.
Some quick random thoughts before I go chug some egg nog…
* Like everybody else (and especially Ted), I couldn’t comprehend why the Steelers shipped Santonio Holmes to New York for what amounted to a couple free dinners at Eat and Park. But Mike Wallace’s emergence, along with what Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown have been able to do as rookies, takes the sting out of the Holmes trade.
Wallace’s touchdown was another jaw-dropper, primarily because we’ve all seen how unbelievably fast he his and we’re still shocked when he hits top end in three steps.
Sanders and Brown continue to get better every week, and I’m still not convinced that Manny didn’t catch that touchdown pass on the Steelers’ first possession that was eventually overturned.
* Welcome back, Heath Miller. Matt Spaeth might be a better blocker than Heath, but it was clear early that Miller’s a huge part of this offense.
* The best part about Rashard Mendenhall’s 35-yard run on his first touch? That he tried the Spindenhall on the sideline, 35 yards past the line of scrimmage. That’s a man who takes pirouetting seriously.
* A couple thoughts about Jonathan Scott’s first series: I think a lot of us were happy to see Sean Kugler go bonkers on Scott because so many of us have wanted to do that to the offensive line at some point during the season. I was also glad to see Tomlin seek out Scott on the bench and talk to him after he was yanked (and subsequently threw his helmet) before sending him back in. I think Tomlin would call that a coaching opportunity (take notes, Tom Coughlin).
* Two words: B – MAC. I’ve defended McFadden for most of the season, although it was becoming increasingly difficult with each passing week. Apparently, Jimmy Clausen is the cure to any defensive ailment. Of course, McFadden got hurt on the interception, but, hey, that’s the price of greatness. (/ducks)
* I joked on the last podcast that the Steelers are probably the best team in the NFL in long-yardage situations. With all the holding penalties and sacks, Big Ben regularly faces 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and 20, and with uncanny regularity, Pittsburgh’s offense converts. If you’re a glass-half-full type, that should come in handy the rest of the season. On the other hand, it would be nice to cut down on the penalties. (I would add that Ben should take fewer sacks, but we’ve already made that deal with the devil.)
* Could have done without the two dumb turnovers — both avoidable, obviously — but B-Mac’s pick and Keyaron Fox’s strip on special teams more than made up for it.
* In case you’re wondering, I’m pretty sure Po-Sweezy’s first miss of the year was on the holder, Jason Kapinos. It looked like Kapinos took the snap cleanly, but missed Suisham’s spot when he placed the ball on the turf. It resulted in a push wide right.
* The Steelers’ red zone offense again sputtered. Last week, Bruce Arians and Ben claimed that they had worked out the problems, which primarily had to do with trying to throw the ball in the end zone on every play. I saw a lot of just that against the Panthers … and it led to a lot of incompletions. Just an observation.
But, hey, despite the penalties, fumbles, missed blocks, missed kick and sacks, the Steelers eked out a 24-point win. Do it again next week and Pittsburgh will have a couple weeks off to get Troy and Aaron healthy.
And, really, that’s all I want for Christmas.
Happy holidays, peeps, and thanks again for supporting Steelers Lounge.