Make no mistake about it. Sunday's win over the Jets was a huge win because it proved two things: the defense is still capable of shutting down mediocre quarterbacks and the Todd Haley quick passing game means more Good Ben and less Bad Ben.
First, the defense. It wasn't a dominating performance and early on it looked like we were on the verge of spending the season watching one of the most unlikeable defenses in Steelers' history (that sentiment is based solely on Ike Taylor's "coverage" on the Santonio Holmes touchdown). But in a league where a 14 point lead with more than 5 minutes remaning in a game is essentially meaningless, only giving up 10 points is a significant accomplishment.
As for the offense, it was, as usual, all about Ben. For better or worse, Ben is Ben but anyone who watches Ben knows that the statement "Ben is Ben" doesn't tell you which Ben you're getting because Ben can be Good Ben or Ben can be Bad Ben but either way, Ben is Ben. Ben is always Ben. Ben loved B.A. because B.A. didn't care whether he was getting Good Ben or Bad Ben, only that he was letting Ben be Ben. Haley, on the other hand, appears determined to harness Good Ben and minimize Bad Ben, all while still letting Ben be Ben. Because the truth is, no matter what anyone does, Ben will be Ben.
|Ben being Ben in bare feet.|
The running game is a big concern, but the severe decree of our judgment is tempered because it is Rosh Hashana and because the Steelers are being patient about it and aren't giving up on running. Forget the total yards -- it's the 28 attempts that matter, because 28 rushing attempts means Ben only needs to try to get 7 yards on 3rd-and-6 instead of 15 yards on every 1st-and-10. That's a leaner, more efficient Big Ben. And a lean, efficient Big Ben is huge.
|So lean. So efficient.|
- The 2012 Steelers season may be more dependent on Ike Taylor than any of us are comfortable with. We're close to a comical level of passing in the NFL -- Eli Manning threw for 510 yards Sunday and it's unclear whether he even had a good game (he threw 3 picks). That means that Ike is going to be swaggin' into your living room about 30 times a game from here on out.
- Speaking of Ike, the pass interference call against him for being close to Ryan Clark maybe delivering a late hit on Santonio was so bad that it immediately became funny and made me sympathetic toward the replacement officials. They're like tongueless kids taking the Pepsi Challenge: there's dribble all over their chest and no one understands what they're saying, but they look really cute.
- As great as the defense was in the final 3 quarters, I'm going to hold off on declaring that the Steel Curtain is back until they do it against a quarterback who isn't so dumb he thought it was a better idea to date Eva Longoria than Kate Upton. Sanchize was 10-27 for 138 yards. Eli Manning had 138 yards in one drive on Sunday.
|So similar. But so different.|
- Once again, Drew Butler was majestic with the ball on his foot. The guy puts punts inside the 20 like it's his job. My current MVP ballot:
5. Patrick Peterson
4. Drew Butler
3. Alex Smith
2. Matt Ryan
1. Brandon "Guaranteed W"eeden
- The Steelers have not yet established themselves as anything more than one of the many above-mediocre teams in the AFC. But the trend line is back to positive.