Steelers Start Fast, Limp Across Finish, Still Win

My son will be four years old in a few months and he still struggles to tell the difference between football and basketball. This is what happens when you blow by the television to play with Thomas and his many, many friends.

But the sport didn’t matter on Friday, when he caught me whistling “Renegade.”

“What song is that?” he inquired.

“Renegade — it’s a Steelers song. You wanna hear it?” I offered.

“Yeah!” he responded enthusiastically.

So I fired it up on my computer and we both danced. When the song ended I let out a “Go Steelers!” And without missing a beat, he blurted, “Go Steelers! … Just don’t wait for anything.”

It’s a silly story but I love it. I love the thought of a kid with no real understanding of what it means to be fanatical about a bunch of stuff out of your control boiling Pittsburgh’s game plan down to one sentence. “Just don’t wait for anything.”

My son has long been asleep as I type this at nearly 11 PM Sunday night, but he’ll be happy to hear that the Steelers took his advice (more likely, he won’t care): they didn’t wait around, instead choosing to spend the first 30 minutes repeatedly punching the Jets in the mouth.

The final 30 minutes was a different story, but as Tomlin likes to say, style points don’t matter.

Onto the randomness…

* I had a dream before last week’s Ravens playoff game that the Steelers trailed 55-14. This week, I had another dream, even more improbable: that William Gay would score a defensive touchdown. I’m scared to think what I’ll dream next week.

* I had no idea Ben’s numbers were so dreadful until I heard Deion talking about them on NFL Network’s post-game show. Watching him live, I thought he played extremely well (turns out, he did), you’d just never know it by looking at the box score. Then again, you could argue that Hines Ward and Rashard Mendenhall could have scored on Big Ben passes but came up short. (And in Mendy’s case, the turf monster saved Antonio Cromartie from getting trucked into the end zone.) And that the first pick was a fluke, and the second pick was a punt. Whatever, Roethlisberger made plays with his feet all night, and completed the two biggest passes of the game on that final series: one to Heath Miller and the other to Antonio Brown.

(Also: apparently, Ben runs more effectively after he gets the crap knocked out of him. It happened in Buffalo and again Sunday night.)

* Quick refresher: Brown, as you may recall, hauled in a decisive 58-yard catch on third-and-19 against the Ravens last week. He had a third-and-6 reception against the Jets to end the game. Oh, and he also had a huge return to set up that last drive. Just something to keep in mind as Santonio is making the “flying jet” gesture back to the team bus.

* Back in September, Peter King picked the Packers and Steelers in the Super Bowl. Last Monday, he wrote in his Monday Morning Quarterback column that Rashard Mendenhall wasn’t “a big-time back.” King offered no explanation, just stated it matter-of-factly, and moved on. Here’s to hoping he calls Deebo overrated next week.

* Now, a word on Marshall Faulk: douchebag.

* The talk leading up to Sunday night was that Troy would be back after missing the Week 15 get-together. We didn’t hear his name mentioned much, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have an impact. Brian Billick made a solid point on NFL Network earlier this week: Mark Sanchez had never faced Polamalu and he would either always be looking for him, or he wouldn’t, and Troy would make a big play. The latter didn’t happen, although I have no idea about the former. All else equal: gimme Troy in the lineup, game-changing performances or not.

Somebody who did make a tangible difference: Heath. Humongous catch on the final series on a ball that was thrown behind him.

* I know the Steelers are fond of giving the Jets two points every time they face each other, but that botched snap aside, hats off to Doug Legursky. JJ’s conditioned me to not even bat an eye when an offensive lineman goes down, and even though losing Maurkice is potentially devasting, I knew that Dougie had experience at the position. And while he’s not nearly as athletic as Pouncey, he — like just about all of his o-line mates — is serviceable. And when Big Ben’s under center, serviceable is more than enough.

* Finally, make of this what you will.

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  • Bob Costas

    My wife asked me why Mendenhall was on top of Roethlisberger… and I told her he was covering him up to protect the ball. However, I didn’t catch the dry hump. So, uh, yeah…

  • Aarons925

    Hope the commish did’t catch that or Mendy could find himself serving a four game suspension, too!

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  • countertorque

    Spent a couple of days in Vegas this past week. The 4 year old and I were walking around in our Polamalu jerseys together. It was awesome.

  • Grw1960

    Glad to hear you enjoy sharing with your son. Never stop!
    I have a mentally challenged son in his 20′s who drives me nuts half the time, but we still spend a lot of time together. And I have a 5 year old grandson who for now, enjoys my company. Love them both to death.

  • Carl Natale

    I agree with your point about Troy’s influence. Either OCs are playing away from him – which creates opportunities for players named Ike or Ryan to make big plays – or LeBeau plans it this way so the offense doesn’t know who’s going to wear the cape next.

    I would bet anything that Flacco heard Troy’s footsteps the entire playoff game last week.

    When Troy is on the field, offenses need to account for him. That makes it harder to block all the other weapons we have at our disposal.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the Packers figure that Troy is limited due to injuries and will be a non factor in the Super Bowl. They will change their minds when they see him fly over the O-line at Rogers.

  • Steeler Stan

    What did Faulk do?

    Also, the second pick was NOT a punt because it came on 2nd down. You can write off a long pick when its on third and long but that wasn’t the case here. Also, he underthrew Sanders, who had a step on the whole defense and had to stop and wait (he could have done a better job coming back for the ball, but he rightfully should have assumed Ben would throw it deeper). Ben really was off target all day.

  • Randy Steele

    I know there’s going to be a lot of yackety-yak about the Jets’ furious comeback (especially here in the NYC metro area) and how they almost pulled it off a miraculous win, and what a fabulous coach Rex Ryan is (insert puking sounds here) to bring the team so far, but after we let a few hours pass for all the drama to bubble away, it’s easy to see that the game was never really that close.

  • Dean Keaton

    I agree about Faulk – he was a total douchebag on the NFLN morning broadcast. I don’t even remember everything he did/said, but I do remember him particularly saying that he doesn’t think Ben is that good, and then criticizing the Steelers by saying they don’t pay their players, except for Ben. He obviously had/has a stick up his ass.

  • ryan

    Steeler Stan/Dean Keaton:

    The thing is, I’m fine if people think the Steelers are going to lose if they can reasonably articulate why. Just like it’s not enough to say “Pittsburgh will win because I say so!” doesn’t cut it. No idea why media bobbleheads bother me at this point, but Faulk’s idiotic “The Steelers just aren’t good” season-long meme has worn me down. No evidence, just hunches. So here’s to hoping he’ll keep it up for one more game.

  • Gretz

    I’m not going to lie: The most satisfying thing to come out of the post-game reactions was Santonio Holmes complaining about playing time and the Jets game plan. Not to mention Antonio Brown, who is only a Steeler because of the pick acquired in the Holmes trade going to Arizona for McFadden and a sixth-round pick (used on Antonio Brown) making the play that sends the Steelers to the Super Bowl.

    • Bob Costas

      Don’t speak (type?) ill of Holmes or Ted might hear you.

      You wouldn’t like Ted when he is angry.

  • David

    Faulk is a d-bag, but NFLN has got to get rid of Michael Irvin.

  • David

    BTW, I posted this on HSS, but the Sanchez fumble, even if it was ruled a pass, would’ve still resulted in our TD, b/c it went backwards, thus a lateral-fumble. Correct Mike Pereira?

  • drinkingclub

    Peter King picked the Packers and Steelers in the Super Bowl.

    I made that same prediction in the comments here. Don’t know if I got in before King, or not.

  • Window Film Home Depot

    That’s the great
    article! I just pass ‘n read it, two thumbs up! ;)