Big Lead Sports Bar

9/07/2008

A NICE START

STEELERS (1-0) 38
TEXANS (0-1) 17

ROETHLISBERGER: 13-14, 137 YARDS, 2 TD
PARKER: 25-138, 3 TD
WARD: 6-76, 2 TD
I'm trying to temper my enthusiasm after watching the Steelers' near-perfect performance in the season opener against Houston, but honestly, it's hard to ignore what happened at Heinz Field on Sunday.
The Steelers dominated the Texans in every way, shape, and form in a compelling 38-17 victory. They were up by such a large margin that they were able to pull Ben Roethlisberger after three quarters, granting us the privilege of watching Byron Leftwich throw passes so hard that the Texans couldn't even intercept them.
The story of the day? That's debatable. The leading candidates are Parker, whose three touchdowns surpassed his 2007 season total of two; Roethlisberger, who threw only one incompletion and looked every bit the part of a franchise quarterback in his prime; Ward, who found the end zone twice and gave two fans the thrill of a lifetime with the gift of a game ball in the process; Lamarr Woodley, with three tackles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery; and James Harrison, with nine tackles and three sacks.
The few low points included a few Mario Williams sacks of Large Benjamin, a highly questionable pass interference call against Ward in the first quarter which negated a 74-yard grab, and a few garbage-time touchdowns. That's about it. It's hard to be picky about anything after a performance like we witnessed today.
Time will tell what this game actually meant. But on this afternoon, there's one thing I can say with great confidence: the Steelers are a much better team than the Texans.
Next up is a meeting on Sunday with Cleveland, fresh off a 28-10 pasting at the hands of the Hard Knocks Cowboys.
Game Notes
--Big Ben is now 40-16 as a starter.
--Inactives: WR Limas Sweed; S Anthony Smith; RB Gary Russell; TE Sean McHugh; LB Bruce Davis; OT Tony Hills; DE Orpheus Roye; QB Dennis Dixon.
I'd call Smith's presence a surprise, Sweed's a "minor surprise". It's pretty clear that Limas is a work-in-process, as is his former Texas teammate Hills.
--National anthem duties were handled by Charlie Daniels, of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" fame.
--Pregame featured tributes to members of the Steeler Family no longer with us, including Myron Cope, Dwight White, and Ernie Holmes.
--A quiet debut for San Antonio Holmes: two catches, 19 yards. I'm thinking those numbers will rise in coming weeks.
--Rashard Mendenhall had 10 carries, 28 yards...and zero fumbles. Baby steps, baby steps.
--Troy Polamalu had his first interception in nearly two years. Nice to have you back, Taz.
--It was the Steelers' sixth consecutive opening-day victory. The NFL record is Miami's 11, from 1992-2002. Their coach in 2002? Dave Wannstedt.
--A couple familiar faces on the Texans' roster: ex-Steeler kicker Kris Brown, who hit a 34-yarder; former longtime Steeler TE Mark Bruener, still hanging on after debuting in 1995; one-time Steeler Jeff Zgonina, who was drafted by the Black and Gold back in 1993; and former WVU Mountaineer RB Steve Slaton, who had 43 yards on 13 carries and was lit up numerous times by the Steeler D.
--FYI, a few of the Texans' final cuts included former Steeler practice-squad fodder Shane Boyd and WR LeRon McCoy, former IUP Crimson Hawk and brother of Pitt superstar Shady McCoy.
--Check back for much more coverage on the opener and news from around the league.

8 comments:

Justin said...

"Ward, who found the end zone twice and gave two fans the thrill of a lifetime with the gift of a game ball in the process;"

.. Actually, I think he gave a ball to the same fan twice. He probably was just looking for an 86 jersey in the end zone and forgot he already gave the guy one.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Did we hear anything on Ben's knee?

Koz said...

Hotdog,

Hopefully Ben will survive. From what I could tell by watching ESPN this evening, Tom Brady suffered a knee injury and died.

We will all miss him, because "he's a hero and the face of the league..."



Or he's a douchebag and everyone is happy about this except Pats fans and those who drafted Brady in fantasy football.

Someone Somewhere said...

Heh, a few posts back you mentioned that you wanted comments...

Lamar Woodley is going to be an All-Pro...the guy is sick. It was nice while it lasted Clark Haggans...well, sometimes. From what I recall, he (Woodley) was a down lineman 2 seasons ago at Michigan...now he's making one handed interceptions, causing (it looked like he not only knocked out the ball but also recovered it) and recovering fumbles, not to mention repeatedly getting to the QB.

Then there is James Harrison on the other side. Three sacks in the opening week. I'm very pleased to see that the management training he received this summer is allowing him to better focus his "energy" on his job. Well done social workers! All of the sudden the linebacking corps looks like the strongest area of what appears to be an already strong team.

Something really interesting is the amount that the Steelers were rotated not only the D-Line but also linebackers. Although he didn't start, Lawrence Timmons received a significant amount of playing time and is a vastly superior defender against the pass compared to Larry Foote (don't get me wrong Lar, I'll always love you for the pick against Denver). The open field tackle by Timmons was fantastic.

Tryo Polamalu seemed to play a very conservative game (for him)...and the defense was rewarded. Interesting development.

I think I used the quote "this isn't the Big East Steve (Slaton)" about 5 times...three of which coming during one series in the first half.

Chris Kemoeatu had a nice NFL debut (I think it was his first start...maybe he got one in at the end of '06...although I doubt it). I never saw him picking himself up off of the ground. He's mean too...just look at the dude's mug when they announce the lineups...Jesus. It's hard to supplant a future Hall of Famer, but I've said it here before...the line is going to be better this year compared to last. Sure the pessimist in me says that is like saying dog shit smells better than horse shit...but then again, only giving up 2 sacks to probably the best DE in football and forcing your offensive coordinator dial up a mere 20 pass attempts is not a bad day at the office. Oh yeah, IMO trading Sean Mahan=addition by subtraction.

Didn't this game remind you a hell of a lot of the ass whipping the Steelers laid on the Texans in '05? A game which featured Willie Parker blowing up and Roethlisberger throwing fewer than 15 passes...and total defensive domination.

The most surprising stat of the game: Matt Schaub was 25-33 (75.8%)! Although I believe he piled up most of those numbers late. Nevertheless, he was able to complete a significant amount of his passes, yet I never felt threatened by anything the Texans were doing offensively.

I don't think the Steelers can play at this level for 16 games. They would have beaten any team in the league this afternoon. Last year started out much the same. Sunday night provides an opportunity to go 2 games up on Cleveland with 1/2 of the divisional tie-breaker already in the bag. Big game.

I wonder if people still think Carson Palmer is an elite QB?

okel dokel said...

Nice way to start the season; perhaps the Texans are overrated.

Did you notice that Howie and Jimmy on the Fox crew picked Houston as their "upset special?"

Peter King said the Steelers defense played the "best game of the day" and Woodley was easily the "defensive player of the week"

I have no idea what he said after delivering these lines, but I bet it involved Favre/Brady.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Okel, if you read Peter King last week, he had Woodley as his third choice for NFL Defensive MVP this year. I would just assume he will be singing his praises all season whether they're justified or not. Nice points someone somewhere.

J said...

Its a damn good thing there's a Steelers victory to distract us from the Pirates hitting the magic number. That's right-- it's officially the 16th losing season in a row.

Chip said...

My favorite play was Hampton literally throwing that rookie lineman into the running back to stuff a play.

Tomlin should single him out as a fatass every training camp if this is the kind of play you get from him once the season starts.