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.