By Michael K. Reynolds
What a difference a half makes! Just when it seemed the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to put together a perfectly played season opener, they decided instead to toy with one of the greatest collapses in recent history.
As always there was much to learn from the play on the field and here are your rapid fire conclusions:
A Hugely Significant Field Goal
Who among Steelers fans wasn’t frightfully nervous when Shaun Suisham lined up for what would be the game winning field goal with five seconds in the game? Although it didn’t sail high and strait with Suisham’s typical delivery, it was good enough for a win and may end up having tremendous consequences for the season. First of all, Suisham desperately needed a game-winning field goal under his belt after a shaky preseason showing. But even more important, this is the kind of game the Steelers lost in the past couple of seasons to lesser teams. Although ugly, this was a critical win.
The Preseason Crystal Ball Proved Accurate
Many argued the preseason defensive woes of the Steelers were a mere mirage in mostly meaningless games. A result of offering up vanilla packages. Unfortunately, the preseason defensive warts of not being able to stop the run, pressure the quarterback or blanket receivers seems to be real and troubling. Sub-package play continues to be a serious liability and expect offenses to poke their fingers in this weakness.
Roethlisberger Needs To Master the Chokehold
As embarrassing as the Steelers defense was in the second half of the game the offense had an equal number of opportunities to apply a tourniquet on the lead slippage. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best ever at mounting come-back victories but unlike his top contemporaries Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, he’s never excelled at snuffing the last breaths out of opponents. With such a suspect defense this is a mindset he’ll need to adapt this season. If he’s got a chance to turn off the lights, he’s got to take it.
Steelers Receiving In Good Hands
Antonio Brown not tall enough to be an elite receiver in this league? Nonsense says Brown every time he steps on the field. Between his preseason play and now his first official 2014 stint, the hard working receiver is once again staking claim to be considered among the best. And the big gamble of counting on Markus Wheaton as the team’s number 2? It’s paying off early at least. If you add Heath Miller, a pass-catching running back in Le’Veon Bell, an X-factor in Dri Archer and the others as well, the Steelers could be flying high.
Order Your Official Steelers Defibrillator
The Steelers offense looks as if it might have the ability to score at will this season as it is flashing strengths in just about all aspects of the game. But the defense looks equally adept at making opposing offenses look prolific. And don’t forget, this was the Cleveland Browns with Brian Hoyer under center. Expect high scoring and games being decided in the last few minutes this entire season. Not a season for the weak of heart.