Steelers 38, Titans 17: Max Starks for MVP

Some quick thoughts on the Steelers 38-17 win over the Tennessee Titans…

1) The most surprising play of the day had to be Jonathan Dwyer taking his first handoff of the season and going 76 yards up the the sidelines, and yes, I’m aware there was also a fake punt in this game.

With Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore banged up, that gave Dwyer an opportunity to kick off the Duce Staley Sweatpants and show what he can do in a real NFL game. And he ended up rushing for over 100 yards on 11 carries. Nobody saw that coming. Not even Jonathan Dwyer. Stunning. He and Isaac Redman definitely ran hard, but there was still a lot of tough sledding behind the offensive line.

Redman averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, and Dwyer averaged just three yards over his remaining 10 carries.

The Steelers also managed to get a pair of nice runs from Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace on end arounds.

2) The offensive line, however, did come to play when it came to pass protection, even though they lost right tackle Marcus Gilbert and center Maurkice Pouncey for a handful of plays during the middle of the game. Roethlisberger was only sacked once and was rarely hit. And he took advantage of that, completing 24 of 34 passes for 224 yards, five touchdowns and an interception. The interception was a bizarre play at the end of the first half as Roethlisberger tried to hurry the offense to get one more play off. Nobody else seemed to be ready and the ball went right to Cortland Finnegan. Fortunately, it didn’t matter.

Hines Ward had his best game of the season catching a team-high seven passes (on eight targets) including two touchdowns. Mike Wallace did what Mike Wallace does, catching six of the seven passes thrown his direction including a 40-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

3) Welcome back, LaMarr Woodley! The Steelers defense looked like the Steelers defense today. After Chris Johnson had a couple of nice runs to open the game on the Titans’ first drive, the Steelers shut down the run, pressured Matt Hasselback, sacked him three times and even came away with an interception. Keenan Lewis was beat on a late garbage-time touchdown, but seemed to play a really strong game. Ike Taylor had another outstanding game as well.

Woodley finished with 1.5 sacks and an interception.

4) With Brett Keisel returning and Chris Hoke filling in for Casey Hampton, the Steelers defensive may have played its best game of the season. Cameron Heyward made his presence felt late in the game recording a sack, forcing Hasselback into an intentional grounding and had one other pressure earlier in the game.

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  • Carl Natale

    Could  someone ask Warren Sapp how old is Hines Ward?

    • Anonymous

      He’s 35.

      • Randy Steele

        The only change I’ve noticed in Hines’ play is that he doesn’t make those death-in-your-face linebacker hits on hapless cornerbacks anymore, which, of course, are now subject to penalties,fines, and bad public relationships in your modern NFL.

  • Cols714

    That was way more fun. Bring on 6-3

    • Joe Stitt

      You know, the more I think about the NE game, the less I worry. Every year everyone gets so worked up about the game, we think we have a shot, and it blows up in our face. I think if they play loose, but aggressive like they did today, they’re gonna have their best shot ever at winning. I really hope Arians sticks with the gameplan he drew up this week. Because as a hater, it pains me to admit how great it was. This is the best the offense has looked in a long time. Being a west coast QB isn’t bad. You can still go deep. Ask Jerry Rice and Joe Montana. I really liked what I saw today on offense. I’m encourage. If we can put 38 up on the Titans, I think we can keep up with the Pest, erm, I mean Pats. But if not, oh well. We get the Ravens revenge game the next week. It’s one game, and it’s a game I think despite logic saying I should be less confident than ever, I think I’m more.

      • Cols714

        I agree. However if we lose to the Pats we’ll have to listen to a week of stuff like “we are doomed talk’”

  • Matt

    I don’t think it’s right to say Keenan Lewis got beat on that TD.  Seemed to me he was playing man under, and Ryan Mundy was supposed to be over the top and cover deep.  Mundy showed up way late though.  I was surprised to see Mundy was still on the team, he has not shown himself to be smart enough to play Lebeau’s defense.

    • Hutch

      Mundy has been in on every dime package the Steelers have run this year. 

      And he’s a core special teamer.

    • Craigomcl

      I had the opposite reaction – it seemed clear to me that Lewis got caught peeking when he expected the pass to be thrown earlier than it was, and lost track of his man. Mundy coming in at the end was just trying to clean up the mess.

  • David

    Misleading stat of the day:

    Passer rating: Ben 116, Sepulveda 118

    • ryan

      I agree, Sepulveda’s shoulda been higher. Off the top of my head, I think he’s 2 for 2 in his career. The other fake-punt pass was a touchdown.

    • Anonymous

      I surprised Ben’s passer rating is so high. To my eyes he had a so-so game, and he only got 6.7 YPA.

      • Craigomcl

        That’s the thing about passer rating – it loves completion percentage and touchdowns, and only coyly flirts with yards per attempt.

        If anyone wants to “fix” it, a good start would be simply removing completion percentage altogether, since yards per attempt would factor that in naturally anyway.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      I thought it was kind of funny that Ben’s day was so good that he was only 2 points below the equivalent of having every pass he threw being completed for 30+ yards.  5 TDs helps.