By Michael K. Reynolds
Following their mesmerizing 51-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts the Pittsburgh Steelers arrive at the halfway point of the season with one half of the team soaring and the other half sputtering out black smoke.
Is the plane crashing or is the rocket just lifting up?
In an unbelievable twist to the 2014 season head coach Mike Tomlin decided to risk going for a touchdown on fourth and one with just over five minutes left in the game because he was fearful a 13-point lead wouldn’t hold.
Are these really your Pittsburgh Steelers? Who knows, but what you can count on is your weekly dose of Rapid Fire Conclusions:
Young and Reckless: The Sequel
If you’re in search of the “old Steelers” you might have to visit a local retirement home. Tomlin served notice against the Colts (as he did last week against the Houston Texans) that the air will not be let out of the football on offense until the clock gives up the ghost. As Clint Eastwood in the role of Dirty Harry Callahan once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations” and credit Tomlin for knowing this means his defense.
The easy refrain for those observing the Steelers offensive passing explosion would be to describe it as “vintage Ben Roethlisberger”. However, this would be a wrong conclusion. With the exception of his tap dancing escape and touchdown toss to Antonio Brown at the end of the second quarter few of the 522 yards and 6 TDs were vintage Ben at all. Instead, this was the vision Todd Haley dreamed up years ago when he believed he could build an even bigger star out of number 7. Give the quarterback a pass-catching running back, build him a line that could buy the gunslinger time and keep him upright, and teach him to make quick decisions in getting rid of the ball when necessary. This was an unbelievable performance by Ben, but his offensive coordinator deserves a deep bow as well.
Biggest Catches of the Day
Welcome back Markus Wheaton to the bright future of the offense. His five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown were as significant as any others in the day. Sure seems like his confidence is back after two strong games in a row. Now, with rookie Martavis Bryant on the road to demanding double team attention the explosiveness of the passing offense everyone had hoped for is becoming a reality. Oh…and then there is that old guy Heath Miller. Looks like Miller Time is being extended for at least another year.
The Beast is Back
James Harrison had his best game of the season and appears to be just warming up. It’s almost as if he was discovered in a frozen block of ice and is slowly being thawed back to MVP form. It’s making less sense for him to be off of the field, whether it’s Arthur Moats taking away his snaps or even eventually when Jarvis Jones returns from injury. At least this year.
LeGarrette Blount As Kick Returner?
Zzzzzzz. One of the few poor coaching decisions. It wasn’t too long ago people were saying Martavis Bryant wouldn’t be able to contribute this season because he was too raw. Bring back Dri Archer. Let the kid get his kicks.
Seeking A New Identity
Poor Cortez Allen needs to be entered in the NFL’s witness protection program because he would be better off with a new number and name on the back of his uniform. There isn’t an offensive coordinator or quarterback in the league who isn’t looking out for number 28.
Put Your Hands Together
At 5-3 the Steelers faithful can breathe a collective sigh of relief. It wasn’t the road expected to be traveled, but the results are about as good as most fans could have hoped for at this point in the season. Here’s some more good news:
- The Steelers are in striking range for leadership in the AFC North
- They are back in the discussion as one of the AFC’s best
- The defense, though porous, is young and will only get better
- The offense CAN carry this team
- The team is relatively healthy with injured players returning
- The kickoff and punt return teams are due to contribute
- The offensive line is as strong as it’s been in years
- There’s a half a regular season left to enjoy
Dirty Birds and Dirty Words
It’s a dream bulletin board scenario for Tomlin. Joe Flacco disrespected the Steelers defense. Ray Lewis attacked Pittsburgh’s manhood. And Mean Joe Greene is being honored during the game. All in all, not a great week for the Baltimore Ravens to be coming into Heinz Field. Next week’s big match-up is setting up as the perfect day for ravenous revenge.