Well that didn’t go as exactly as planned did it? It definitely wasn’t a pretty win, but the Steelers went to bed last night with ice on their extremities and, for at least a few days, the lead in the AFC North. What should have been a rout turned into a nail bitter thanks to penalties, turnovers, and one hell of a gutsy performance by No. 7. I’ve decided that I could care less whether Ben is on anyone’s list of “elite” quarterbacks anymore, he is by far and away the toughest quarterback in the league and last night proved that point.
The Brownies scored first after having a touchdown called back by review and kicked a field goal to go up 3-0 within a few minutes of the start of the game. The Steelers answered with a drive that led to a Jerricho Cotchery touchdown and we were in business. It was time to sit back and watch the touchdowns pour in, right? Not so much. The Steelers turned the ball over 3 times, with 2 fumbles coming in the red zone. It’s a really good thing we were playing the Browns and not an actual good team last night. The penalties were ridiculous. Kemoeatu had a hat trick of penalties; 2 holding and one hands to the face. More on Kemoeatu later.
The defense stepped up big time in this game. They created turnovers, stopped drives, and held the Browns to 3 points. Polamalu got his first interception of the season and Big Play Willie Gay caught an interception in the end zone, which allowed for the drive that led to the Antonio Brown touchdown sealing the win for the Steelers. In a game where the offense kept making mistakes that took points away, the defense ensured that it didn’t cost the team in terms of scores on the other side of the ball and that’s what December football is all about.
James Harrison hit Colt McCoy helmet-to-helmet, and will most likely be fined some hefty amount by the Commish. We can only hope that it doesn’t lead to a suspension since Harrison has already been labeled a “repeat offender” of the violent hits. Personally, I saw that there was helmet contact but I also saw that McCoy was technically a runner at that point and wasn’t entitled to the “defenseless player” protection. I didn’t see Harrison lower or launch his helmet, maybe because I don’t want to see it, but I have a problem with the threat of fines and suspensions surrounding subjective plays. Take a look at the Raiders or the Lions personal foul penalties this year, those are dirty plays.
When it comes to quarterbacks this year Aaron Rogers has all but locked up the MVP, Drew Brees is about to shred the last of Dan Marino’s records, and Ben out performs both of them in terms of toughness. Ben went down with a few minutes left in the first half when his ankle was bent in the opposite direction you want your ankle to bend and was carted off to the locker room for x-rays. Charlie Batch went in for a few plays and much to every Steeler fan’s delight; Ben was back out on the field warming up for the second half. He had what looked to be about 80 rolls worth of tape around his ankle and hobbled around the field throwing 8-12 and 178 yards with a touchdown in the second half. Ben knew this game had no room for errors and with the extra rest coming up before the next game, laid it all on the line. To all 31 teams in the league; our quarterback is tougher than your quarterback, nanny-nanny-do-do.
Normally, I try not to bash any of the players. I’ve had my moments with Mendy here and there, but overall, I’m always going to defend the players. When it comes to Chris Kemoeatu, however, I’m at my limit. It’s no surprise right now why he lost his starting position. This guy is an offensive penalty machine. I realize there is some form of holding on damn near every play and Steeler fans will always argue that our d-line gets held all the time without any flags while our o-line seems to get flagged all the time but Kemoeatu seriously holds all the time. Kemoeatu entered the game when Pouncey left with a high ankle sprain and Legursky moved to center. While I’m grateful for the protection the offensive line provided Ben while he was hobbling around the field, I’m irritated to no end on how drives were stopped on needless penalties by Kemo. I’m having a hard time understanding why Tomlin allowed Kemo to finish the game and didn’t yank him for Essex. I’m also still having a hard time understanding how Mendy can’t get into the end zone from the 2 yard line on 3 tries.
Overall, a divisional win in December is what’s important. Hopefully the Steelers get the chance to nurse their injuries and correct these mistakes that if happened against an opponent like San Francisco rather than Cleveland, will get exploited for points every time. I have no doubt that Ben will be playing in San Francisco next Monday night. Bring back the Frankenstein shoe if needed. Go Steelers!
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