After a 31-10 loss to the Browns back in week six, a lot of people including myself, left the Steelers for dead. However, after three straight big wins at home including Sunday night’s win over the Ravens by a score of 43-23. I said that these three games could make or break the Steelers’ fate of this season. They were being called soft by former players and coaches and got a lot of flack for how they played but still continued to fight and play hard and now the Steelers’ I believe are in the drivers seat for the AFC North and control their fate in making the playoffs.
It was a heated game were tempers flared and the Steelers rose to the occasion on both sides of the football. James Harrison showed why he is a former Defensive MVP and dominant force as a linebacker in the NFL. He had two sacks and was getting in on Flacco frequently, including one play where he got into Flacco’s face and forced him to throw a pass right to Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds for an interception which led to points. Ben Roethlisberger was brilliant again and threw for six more touchdowns, setting an NFL record for most touchdown passes in back to back games. The weapons on offense are looking more and more dangerous each week. Rookie receiver Martavis Bryant has caught touchdown passes in all of his first three starts, Antonio Brown is still doing his thing and showing his ability to exploit any team, Bell is proving to be a dangerous weapon in not only the running game, but the passing game as well and Marcus Wheaton has stepped up these past couple of weeks and has caught some nice touchdown balls. An offense who has struggled in the past and has caused many to call for Todd Haley’s job is now emerging and for the meantime is putting up monster numbers.
It only made this victory sweeter when it was announced that at this game the Steelers would be retiring Mean Joe Greene’s number. He was just the second player in the franchise to have their number retired and the first since 1964. It was only right that this defense up front would play so well and dominate. I also do have to give credit to the secondary. They played a solid game and covered pretty well. They gave up some yards and a score at the end but at that point the defense was playing very conservative which is fine with me if you are up by multiple scores with a short amount of time left. I’m sure I am not the only one who noticed Cortez Allen not playing. It proved that with him out, the secondary play gets better. They aren’t a shut down secondary that forces a ton of turnovers but the covered well and played a solid game without Cortez in the lineup. I’m not sure if Cortez will be put back out there to regain his confidence in the next couple of weeks due to the opposing team or not. I say stick to what you got now. The secondary played solid without Allen and should definitely improve once Ike Taylor returns from injury.
With a record of 6-3 and 2-2 in the AFC North, the Steelers have a real chance of winning the division and making the playoffs. They have both games against the Bengals left and it is all up to them whether or not they win those games and take the division. They still have some tough games left and by no means will be able to cruise through any of them. The Steelers have shown the ability to collapse before and this year they need to stick to their game plan on both sides of the ball and the players must all motivate one another. This win over the Ravens was great and exciting and I feel it was a big boost of confidence for this Steelers football team.
Positives & Negatives:
Positives: The offense. Big Ben was great and give credit to the entire receiving core including Le’veon Bell. On the defensive side despite injuries, this linebacking core has stepped up and James Harrison is looking like is old self again after these past two games. The game plan was good and this team is looking very progressive.
Negatives: Not much really. The O line started slow but picked it up and special teams did give up a 108-yard kick return touchdown, which should not happen. Steelers will also be down Troy Polamalu and Ryan Shazier.
Next Week’s Matchup: Jets in New York. This is no push over game. After the loss the Tampa I can’t guarantee a win against anybody for the Steelers. I do believe they are a better team now then they were that week and the Jets have been struggling but the Steelers cannot fall asleep and they must say sharp and play like they have over these past three games.
PS: I am excited that James Harrison is back to playing really good football. He’s got four sacks in two games and he is hyping that defense up and rallying them together. I broke back out my old Harrison jersey and wore it Sunday and I plan on wearing it again this weekend! Keep playing this type of football Steelers!