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Week 9 Recap: The Champs Are Here


The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled out to the Mile High City to lay a vicious 28-10 pounding on the Denver Broncos. Once again, the Steelers rose to the level of their competition by putting together by far their best effort of the season. Even missing three starters on defense while dealing with the inhumane conditions of playing in Denver couldn’t hamper their effort. The Steelers thrive on the big stage and this was their latest award winning performance.

It didn’t start out that way, however. The Steelers offense could have stayed in their hotel until halftime. To say they were ineffective is like saying Skippy Reed occasionally enjoys an alcoholic beverage. Ben Roethlisberger and company ran only 18 plays in the first half. EIGHTEEN! I have to give the Broncos defense some credit, they were much better than I expected, especially against the pass. Ben had only the narrowest of windows to throw into which lead to drive killing incompletions and coverage sacks.

Meanwhile, the Broncos came out firing. Two guesses who their primary target was. Yes, young Gay might as well wear a bullseye on his helmet instead of the hypocycloid. Ron Jaworski said QBs are completing an amazing 69% of the passes thrown in Gay’s direction so now I have statistical proof to back up my hate. To be fair, did make a couple nice plays, one where knocked the ball out of a receiver’s hands to prevent a third down conversion and another where he probably would’ve had an INT if Troy Polamalu didn’t run him over.

Besides the opening drive which netted a FG, the Broncos had trouble moving the ball themselves. They managed to grind out a few first downs and dominated the first half time of possession but had very little to show for it. Their offensive strategy seems to be Death By Paper Cuts as they endeavor to “masturbate the ball down the feel” (as the sorely missed Emmit Smith would say) 2-4 yards at a time. Against a superior defense like the Steelers, that strategy is doomed for failure.

And doom soon struck as Kyle Orton misfired on a pass (actually, the referee blocked the running back from getting to the ball) that was picked by Tyrone Carter and returned for a TD. First person on the field to congratulate Carter? The man whose place he took, Ryan Clark.

After halftime, the roles were completely reversed as the Steeler offense seemed to have a monopoly on the football. Pittsburgh’s time of possession at halftime was a little under 10 minutes but by the end of the game it had ballooned to 33. Of course, the second half didn’t start ideally as Big Ben was strip-sacked on their opening drive and the resulting fumble was scooped up and returned for a Broncos TD. Let the record show Chris Kemoteau was the culprit who got badly beaten to smudge what was an otherwise excellent performance by Max Starks and company.

The Broncos made a grave mistake by returning that fumble for a TD. It seemed to piss off Big Ben because he came right back FIRING. Up until this point, the Steelers had a grand total of 75 yards of offense. On FOUR PLAYS they went 80 yards for the go-ahead TD. It was a thing of beauty. An 18 yard strike to Mike Wallace, a 25 yard rumble by Rashard Mendenhall, a 35 yard dart to Santonio Holmes, capped off with a 3 yard back of the end zone TD grab by Hines Ward. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the offense and much like our President, Ben loves to spread the wealth.

Four plays later, the Steelers got the ball back and continued the systematic destruction. Unfortunately, this drive ended when Hines zigged when Ben thought he’d zag, resulting in a Broncos INT. Turnovers are never good but Roethlisberger has a weird habit of making his count. I don’t know why but it seems like his INTs are always in the end zone or Pick Sixes. Guess it’s a good thing his mistakes are few and far between (Ill-fated Vegas booty calls aside).

Not to worry, however, because the Denver offense couldn’t do anything against the Steelers. Every time Orton was pressured or flushed from the pocket, he’d throw the ball like a scared little girl. When he wasn’t tossing footballs into the dirt, he was dunking two yard passes which were quickly snuffed out by the sure-tackling Steelers. Complicating matters was the fact the Broncos only rushed for 27 yards ALL GAME. Putting the ball in the hands of Captain Neckbeard and asking him to win the game is not a winning strategy.

Sure enough, one of Orton’s lollipops soon ended up in Polamalu’s hands. Three plays later, Ben made them pay by scrambling out of danger and finding Mike Wallace for a 25 yard touchdown. Another 3 and out by Denver concluded with Mitch Berger GOING ALL MITCH BERGER and uncorking a soaring magnificent 25 yard punt. The Steelers happily went to work with an 11 play five minute drive finished off with a second TD pass to the NFL’s Dirtiest Player.

The big play on that final drive was a 36 yard run by Mendenhall. Rashard had an absolutely incredible game, rushing 22 times for 155 yards. That’s a 7 yard/carry average, folks. And this was against a defense ranked in the top 5 against the rush. Rashard is the Real Deal. Bruce Arians may love his Flying Circus but he’d do well to take a cue from G.I. Joe and remember it’s important to strike from the land just as much as the sea or air.

Tyrone Carter picked off another feeble Orton offering to end the game. Last week, the Ravens held the Broncos to one offensive TD. Anything Baltimore can do, we can do better. The Steelers allowed only a FG.

The Black and Gold are now 6-2 and tied with the resurgent Bengals for the division lead. Next week, we host Cincy at the Ketchup Bottle for yet another Biggest Game of the Season. This one will determine first place in the division and will likely have major playoff implications down the road. All I have to say is I hope Bengals aren’t expecting the same Steelers they defeated in week 3. That team is gone. The Champs are here.