BRONCOS (3-3) 31
STEELERS (4-2) 28
Despite the best efforts of Ben Roethlisberger and Tim Spaeth, the Steelers ultimately could not pull it out last night in Denver, falling to the Broncos, 31-28. The only mistake the Steelers made, other than the three turnovers, letting Skippy Wolfendale attempt a 65-yard field goal, and Mike Tomlin screwing up the last-second time-out, was leaving the Broncos too much time on the clock to pull out a W.
Jay Cutler, disheveled hair and all, put his team into sufficient position for a game-ending field goal by the apparently un-iceable Jason Elam. One walk-off kick later, the Steelers ensured a lower ranking in everyone's Power Rankings this week as Elam split the uprights. Prepare for your freefall in the Fine Fifteen.
Personally, I felt the game was over after Tim Crowder took back a Ben fumble to the house and put the Broncos up by 14 in the 2nd quarter. I was impressed that the Steelers were able to mount a comeback, but it was only necessary because of the hole that they dug for themselves.
This was a Bronco team ranked last in the league in rush defense, missing Champ Bailey to boot. On the offensive side, they were missing Javon Walker. The Broncos winning the game without those players was the most ridiculous thing I've seen since, oh, the Steelers shutting out the Seahawks without Ward, Polamalu, Holmes and McFadden.
This game was a tale of two halves: the half when the Steelers scored 7, and the half when the Steelers scored 21. They were consistently inconsistent, negating big plays with big errors at every available opportunity. The offense had trouble finding any kind of rhythm, and the defense went back to their old ways of allowing any 3rd and forever to become a first down. I think it's safe to say that everyone expected a better performance from the Steelers. Maybe they were reading all of the stories saying how they were the class of the AFC, or the stories throwing dirt on the Broncos' 2007 season, but this did not play out as many predicted. Let's hope their collective heads get screwed on straight in time for the Bengals next Sunday.
Random observations from the game:
--Three TD passes to tight ends? Are we sure they didn't change Heath Miller's position to wide receiver?
--Despite my dislike of Coach Tomlin's game plan, he gets an A+ for his choice of headgear on Sunday night. Loved that hat. He may have a winning percentage of .667, but in the fashion department, he's batting 1.000.
--Was I the only one who heard the circus music in the background of that 3-yard kick return by Allen Rossum?
--Nice to see Hines Ward reeling in seven catches, considering his totals in three previous starts this season: one, three, and five.
--For those scoring at home, FWP's runs to throw out last night were 24 and 27 yards.
--Doesn't Mike Shanahan remind you of Tony LaRussa in some way, shape or form?
--Did the name Elvis Dumervil ring a bell? He's the guy that was formally introduced to Marcus Vick's cleat in the 2005 Gator Bowl. By the way, how are the Vick brothers doing in the NFL this year?
--So much for Keith Olbermann's prediction that the Steelers will go 15-1.
Around the league...
--Baltimore-Buffalo was painful to watch. Painful. Buffalo's not a bad team, they just absolutely cannot score in the red zone if you spotted them at the 1 yard line with four downs. Although it's hard to single them out when another team had to kick eight field goals. Meanwhile, Baltimore is Baltimore. It's very hard to watch them and consider them seriously as a threat in the division. Then again, we just lost to a team that lost their previous game to Norv Turner by 38 points, so we might not want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
--Don't look now, but the Giants are 5-2. So if history repeats itself, they should be quitting on Tom Coughlin sometime in the next week or two.
--I despise the Patriots, but I have no problem at all with them running up the score. This is the NFL, not Pop Warner.
--Admit it: no one believes Cleo Lemon can win because his first name is "Cleo" and his last name is "Lemon". Seriously, how many times have you heard this line: "How can the Dolphins win? They have Cleo Lemon at quarterback!"
--Tom Brady just threw another TD, Rob Bironas just kicked another field goal, and Big Ben just turned it over again.
--Gotta love that Vikings game plan: give the ball to Adrian Peterson 12 times and take your chances.
--Jeff Garcia went 37-45 (82%) yesterday against the Lions. If I've heard it once, I've heard it 1,000 times: Carmella Dicesare loves QBs with high completion percentages.
--I've officially lost it with the national media when discussing Chad Johnson...
"Oh, he's so much fun!"
"He just loves the game!"
"He does it in a way that doesn't disparage the opposition!"
Here's the truth: Chad Johnson is looking more and more like a locker-room cancer that is threatening to blow the Bengals into a million pieces. He rides his QB. He blows up at halftime. He's a selfish, me-first player in a team game. Ever remember Jerry Rice doing the Riverdance or putting on a Hall of Fame jacket after a TD? Exactly.
--Congrats to the Pitt Panthers and Coach Wannstache for the big and improbable win over Cincinnati on Saturday. How they slowed down a team that scored 40.6 points per game, especially after getting shredded by the likes of Navy, is beyond me. It was a great all-around game, with the Panthers notching two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 1988. My only question: Will Dave Wannstedt in the booth become a good luck charm?
--Not sure if you've heard this or not, but Kevin Millar, a current member of the Orioles, appeared in a Fox spot rooting on the Red Sox, using the phrase "we", and throwing out the first pitch in game seven. Considering the thoughts of this Orioles blog, it looks like a hot debate.