Random thoughts from a cluttered mind on the Steelers 24-20 win over the Chargers Monday night:
— Yeah, we had them all the way… or something. Man, was that win ugly. Like, “Elephant Man” ugly. We all knew that things would not run as smoothly on offense without Ben Roethlisberger. However, the display of passing put on by Michael Vick in the first 2 and a 1/2 quarters Monday night was… well, ugly. Vick was throwing the ball as if he had just held a football for the first time. The Steelers seemed incapable of participating in a punt or kickoff without blatantly committing a penalty. If Phillip Rivers got even a shred of time to throw the ball, there seemed at times to be Charger receivers open all over the field.
And yet… the Steelers got it done. On the road. In prime time. Call it lucky, call it wacky, call it ugly… it still counts. It’s the type of game that, at the end of the season, is the difference between being in the playoffs and watching them on TV. It’s the type of game that a good team wins once in awhile: ugly. Is this a good team? I don’t know yet. But if it is, they got their ugly win.
— I missed commenting on this before the game, but whatever the reason was for not yet activating Martavious Bryant for last night’s game, I endorse it. Bryant proved last year that he was a difference-maker, in a big way. But this offseason he also proved that he has a whole lot of growing up to do. The best way for the team to help him grow up might be to make him earn his way back into the lineup.
Many of us were very concerned that the Steelers other receivers, besides Antonio Brown, would not be able to step up and contribute enough. Well, the two biggest catches of last night’s game were the Markus Wheaton touchdown and the Darrius Heyward-Bey leaping grab on 3rd and 1 during the final drive. When someone has gotten the ball to them, those two guys have produced in a big way this year. Are either of them better than or more dangerous than Bryant? No. But can this offense be successful with Bryant possibly slowly working his way back into the team’s good graces, maybe as the 3rd or even 4th wideout? Absolutely they can… and in the long run, that might be the best thing to do for both Bryant and the team.
— Of course, I am thrilled that the Steelers were able to go for it on the last play, score a touchdown, and win. Having said that… they have 5 seconds to go, have the ball on the one yard line… and snap the ball into the backfield from the Wildcat? With 11 defenders in the box???? So Bell has to get a running start from 4 or 5 yards away from the end zone???? I understand the idea of wanting to get the ball into Bell’s hands in that spot, but that was far from the best way to do it.
— I don’t care if Michael Vick had started 0-for-20 last night. Barring injury, Vick was not coming out of the game, and Landry Jones was not going in. Nor should that have happened. The argument that says “Well, he can’t do any worse” does not work in the NFL, ever. Vick has a track record of NFL success, including as recently as a week ago for most of that game. Jones has looked mediocre to horrible for 3 preseasons in a row, and that’s his entire track record. Jones is there to break glass in case of emergency until Roethlisberger returns.
— For all of the trials and tribulations of the Steeler rookie class so far this year, Bud Dupree looks like a keeper. But he might not be the most impressive newcomer on that defense. Ross Cockrell is the best young cornerback prospect the Steelers have had in… well, a long time. He is big, he is physical, and above all he is confident out there. It is beyond impressive that he is already playing so much, and so well, for having spent the preseason as a Buffalo Bill.
Thanks for reading, as always.