Well, yours truly said that there would be a return to real Steeler football this weekend and an upset win.
The Steelers looked very impressive in Jacksonville Sunday and never relented until the Jags yielded their first ever loss to the Steelers on home turf. Surprisingly, Kordell Stewart made the start after being benched in favor of Kent Graham(injury) to start the season. Oddly enough, Kordell made a comment last Sunday after the injury to Graham saying it would be nice to get a another shot at playing QB. That doesn't say too much for his character or his mental capacity, but it does say a lot about his desire to compete.
Sometimes desire is not enough, but�
This same desire to compete led the Steelers to victory from both sides of the ball. Playing their most hated foe brought the best out of Pittsburgh simply because they needed to compete. It had nothing to do with Xs and Os, schemes, third-down conversions, but it had to do with a desire and a passion for the game missing the first few weeks of the season. A basic need to survive surfaced and it bore an ugly face the Jags fled from most of the day. The Steelers were the hunters, the Jags - the hunted. That's Steeler Football baby!!!
Hello Steeler Football my old friend - it's nice to see you again.
Will we be seeing more of that smash-mouthed, in your face football the rest of the year. Perhaps, but not all glory shall be the Steelers this weekend - though there were many positives, there were also some negatives:
- The defense was ferocious today. Poor little Fred Taylor didn't fare much better than his Alma Matter Florida did on Saturday. As I suspected, the run defense of the Steelers was much better than what we had seen in the first three games. All four LBs played a very solid game - yes even Jason Gildon. Though the game ball must go to Holmes - this guy is awesome and is emerging as the defensive team leader - it cannot go without saying that Kimo is becoming a huge part of this defense. He has played well in every game this year and anchors the middle of line as well as Stead did in his prime - perhaps better. This has been missing the past two years�
- The ground game. The BUS is rolling! The line is gelling and there's no telling how far the Steelers can go with a strong running game provided other areas on this offense come around. Bettis does look much slimmer to me this year or perhaps a bit more nimble. It could be that the blocking this year is better than in seasons past. I'm not sure what the answer is yet, but it will be interesting to see how well the Steelers can run the ball when they face the Jets.
- Hank Poteat from Pitt. You just gotta love a local product from Pitt making good on the Steelers. It's the way it should have been with Marino and Curtis Martin and Dorsett and so on. Hank is doing a fine job and the rest of the Special Teams performed adequately today which is a far cry from their pig-vomit laden efforts early in the season.
- The WRs today looked like crap. Heinz Ward is the only receiver to show any signs of life this year. Though he is now the starter and deservedly so, he alone cannot resurrect the passing game in Pittsburgh. What Burress did today by spiking the ball and giving it to Jacksonville is a microcosm of what goes through the head of today's athlete - do one thing well then celebrate so everyone can see you. I guess Burress thought that Phil Knight of Nike was watching and might want to offer him a shoe contract. Burress is paid to go across the middle and catch the ball. He is not paid to lolly-gag for most of the year and then potentially cost his team the game in an attempt to get noticed by marketers. I understand he was excited, but� more on this later in the week
- QB. Last year I laughed and laughed at the fact that the Steelers - in keeping four QBs - not only had the three worst QBs in the NFL but the four worst QBs in the NFL. No disrespect to Tee Martin this year - he might be pretty good, but the goofs in front of him are very mediocre on an NFL level and are indeed at the bottom of the barrel. Kordell didn't do too much wrong today or didn't do anything wrong if you prefer, however, what did he do? Nothing except for running the ball down the sidelines once for a sizable gain. Well, an NFL quality QB should have done more and would have done more. This was his opportunity to shine and win his starting spot back from the woeful Opie-like Graham. He didn�t fail but he didn�t succeed either.
The Positives outweighed the negatives today and the Steelers earned a very impressive win in Jacksonville. Look, the Steelers have a very good defense - and looking at teams like Tampa, Denver and the Jets, having this and a solid running game supported by a descent(not great) air attack means winning more often than not. So very thin is the line between winning and losing in this league. The Steelers, unfortunately, find themselves minus that all important ingredient - a passing game. If Kordell or Graham and Burress or Edwards can play like they actually are professional athletes - then we might have something. It is still too early to tell about Edwards and Burress, but our QBs are running out of time.