Big Lead Sports Bar

10/06/2008

GUTSY

STEELERS (4-1) 26
JAGUARS (2-3) 21

ROETHLISBERGER 26-41, 309 YARDS, 3 TD/1 INT
MOORE 17-99
WASHINGTON 6-94, 1 TD

(SPOILER ALERT: Gratuitous Roethlisberger praise ahead)

The Steelers' weekly primetime game took us this week to Jacksonville, Florida, for our annual Rashean Mathis pick six matchup with the hated Jaguars. Many had counted out the Steelers far in advance, mostly because they were starting their eighth-string running back, missing half their defense, and losing a starter from their already-maligned offensive line. Bah. Those were merely the ingredients to a more dramatic victory in front of a national audience.
You could get a sense from the opening drive that the Steelers came ready to play. Of course, those feelings were quickly slayed when Mathis took a Ben Roethlisberger pass 72 yards to the house for his 155th career interception return for a TD against Roethlisberger (or "Ben", as all national announcers call him, much to Bill Simmons' chagrin). That would seem to take the air out of the Steeler balloon, but the team marched down the field once again and tied it on a Roethlisberger-to-Heath Miller score at the 5:18 mark of quarter one.
Maurice Jones-Drew then answered that score with a touchdown of his own, which closed the first quarter at 14-7. And I can't think of many people that would've imagined 21 combined points in the first 15 minutes of this contest.
The Steelers scored thrice in the second quarter: two fields goals from the automatic Jeff Reed, and a HUGE Roethlisberger-to-Nate Washington touchdown that spanned 48 yards. Nursing a tenuous 20-14 lead at halftime was not bad, all things considered.
A scoreless third quarter gave way to some fireworks in the final period. Marcedes Lewis caught a 24-yard touchdown from David Garrard at the beginning of the fourth, putting the Jaguars up by one. And once again, the Steelers would step up, as Roethlisberger hit the fiesty Hines Ward for the game's final score, an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1:53 to go. Game, set, match: the Steelers knocked off a longtime rival on the road with a depleted core of starters. This was a big win.
Game Notes:
--That was the 5th time that Roethlisberger's thrown for 300+ yards in his career, and the first since a 2006 meeting with Denver.
--At this point, any more praise I heap on Roethlisberger can be regarded as piling on. I have a bit of a history in that area. But come on, he was just off-the-charts tough last night. Sure, he may hold onto the ball too long on occasion, but on other occasions that style extends plays and bails out the Steelers. And he could barely pull himself off the turf, yet somehow found a way to lead his team to the game-winning score. For people who say he's coming into his own, save it. He's been there a long time.
--What can you say about the Steeler D? They allowed just 213 yards and seven points (don't forget, the other Jax TD was on an interception return), sacking David Garrard three times. Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison were once again all over the place.
--Mewelde Moore had a fantastic game filling in for RashWillie MendenParker: 99 yards on the ground (at 5.8 yards per carry, no less), and another 17 through the air. Moore was a great offseason acquisition who proves superb depth. Even when Parker returns, I hope to see more of Moore on the field.
--Yes, that WAS William James from Uniontown out there for the Jags last night. A former classmate of mine at Geibel HS in Connellsville for a very short time, he was then known as Will Peterson. He attended the U. of Michigan and was playing in the Rose Bowl opposite Charles Woodson, but found himself finishing his college career at Youngstown State and later Western Illinois. He was with the New York Giants from 2001-06, and has since bounced around to Philadelphia, Buffalo, and as of September 1, the Jags. He's had six tackles in each of the last two weeks. He gets lost in the shuffle of local players who play in the league, but should absolutely be mentioned.

--I just can't imagine what it was like for Najeh Davenport to be sitting at home watching football last week and then running back kicks in front of a national audience last night.
--Another big game out of #86 last night. Hines was all over the field, with seven catches, 90 yards, and the game-winning TD. In fact, it was a great all-around night for the receivers, as Washington had a huge six catch, 94-yard game (with a TD), and Santonio Holmes added another four castches for 65 yards.
--The Jaguar running game was non-existent. Fred Taylor had 19 yards on 10 carries and MJD just seven yards on five carries. And that was against a Steeler line minus Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton.
--ESPN blogger James Walker once again gives lots of love to the Steelers and ranks them among the NFL elite.
--Steelers are off next week, which means no Pitt and no Steelers for an entire weekend. They return on the 19th against the Bengals in a rare 1 PM Sunday game, then follow that with a murderer's row of the Giants and Redskins.
--Huge win when combined with Baltimore's loss against Tennessee. That puts the Steelers at 4-1 and the Ravens at 2-2, and that's a good place to be.
--The decision to put Trai Essex into the game rather than Max Starks in the fourth quarter should cement Starks' status as one of the worst free agent signings in history, writes AOL's JJ Cooper.
--Could Silverback Harrison be in line for a fine after wondering if the refs had money on the game?
--This is off-topic, but extremely relevant to me: can we get some confirmation if Mark Madden is definitely coming back today? Unless I'm totally blind, there's no mention of him on The X website. Why they wouldn't want to publicize the crap out of that is beyond me.

7 comments:

RedHawks Hockey said...

I feel like the personal fouls/unsportsmanlikes are not receiving enough press. The ryan clark penalty could have been the difference in the game and the harrison "roughing the passer" and the nate washington taunting could have had poor results too. Steelers lucked out. Good teams find a way to win, though.

Craig said...

I never knew you were a Geibel Gator. I'm Connellsville Class of 2003 myself.

Jan said...

Can Matt Spaeth ever catch a pass? That is so frustrating! I hope Ben heals. It was a great win. GO Moore!

mondesishouse said...

I am a Geibel Gator from the distinguished class of 1995, and as noted weekly, a graduate of Washington and Jefferson College (of Roger Goodell, Luke Ravenstahl, and the dad from Addams Family fame), class of '99.

Schide said...

So I guess that's a no to Madden coming back today.

Dang.

Brian said...

Ah, there he is, #83. Always open!

Koz said...

That crew was really into taunting calls. What did the Jax DB do to warrant one early in the game? He must have said some of the coldest stuff ever, because he didn't seem to make any gesture.

Ironically, I think I saw Rashean Mathis do a "throat slash" after his pick 6, but there was no flag for that. (It was particularly noticeable during one of the montages before or after a commercial break)