Ben Roethlisberger doesn't get overwhelmed by the big moments. Unfortunately for the Steelers in their Halloween night 20-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, he doesn't always fire on all cylinders during the moments preceding the really big moments. Meaning those preliminary moments turn out to also be, in retrospect, big moments. One moment. Looking at my notes. Ah, yes, take for example the sequence when the Steelers had the ball 1st and 20 at the New Orleans 33, with about two minutes to go in the first half. The Saints blitzed three downs in a row, and made no secret of their intentions. Roethlisberger nearly connected on second down with Antwan Randle El in the end zone, but Randle El failed to come back to the ball. On third down, Ben did a great job of stepping up in the pocket, but short-hopped a ball to Hines Ward that would have set up a fairly easy field goal try for Jeff Reed. In a 3-0 game, you need to come away with those points. The offense never got into a rhythym in the face of that blitz until the fourth quarter. And if you didn't think Roethlisberger was in the process of leading a game-changing touchdown drive when Heath Miller fumbled at the Saints' 34, you haven't been paying attention. But if you put this loss on Miller, you're also missing the point, which is that we should have already built a lead against a New Orleans team that was missing it's two starting cornerbacks and it's top two running backs. A team that just lost at home to Cleveland. Let that sit for a moment. Other thoughts on Halloween Sunday:
- Did the Steelers miss Aaron Smith? I have no idea. The Saints didn't run the ball. Drew Brees threw it 44 times and completed 34. That's how you beat Pittsburgh. If you've got a quarterback like Brees who can target his throws like Cliff Lee against the Yankees, give him maximum protection and let him attack Bryant McFadden and William Gay. They can't cover anybody. Gay looked more out of sorts than Jeff Reed in a public restroom when he let Marques Colston run right by him on the Saints first touchdown drive in the 4th quarter.
- GTOG correspondent Finesse believes this is exactly why the New England Patriots are the current AFC favorite. "All you need is a quarterback who can step up in the pocket and deliver accurate throws," he said this morning from GTOG headquarters. "If Harrison and Woodley don't get you coming around the corner, you can exploit that secondary."
- I still can't stand Jeremy Shockey after all these years.
- GTOG is heartened this morning by the showing of this year's rookie class. Emanuel Sanders clearly has the confidence of both the coaches and Roethlisberger, who continues to target Sanders several times a game. He has no hesitation and tremendous burst on kick returns. A steal in the third round. Stevenson Sylvester is a special teams monster. Maurkice Pouncey is apparently already the captain of the team and betrothed to Collinsworth's daughter. Great looking draft.
- Is Brett Favre alive?
- Bengals next Monday night. Let's get back to our game.