Big Lead Sports Bar

11/04/2008

A VOTE FOR DEFENSE

STEELERS (6-2) 23
REDSKINS (6-3) 6

LEFTWICH 7-10, 129 YDS, 1 TD
PARKER 21-70, 1 TD
WASHINGTON 2-59

As I pondered ideas for my weekly Steeler recap, I debated the various angles I could take. We had the injury of Ben Roethlisberger, the injury of Heath Miller, the play of backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, the returns of Willie Parker and Santonio Holmes, and the suffocating Steeler defense. And that's before I get to the part about the Steelers playing just outside the nation's capital on the eve of the Presidential election, with cameo appearances by both candidates at halftime (long story short: play high school sports, rebel against authority at some point, and you will get a Presidential nomination).

After much internal struggle, I settled on Leftwich, who the Steelers rescued from the discarded quarterback junkyard after an injury to Charlie Batch in August. To come off the bench in a relief performance makes Steeler Nation feel at least a little better this morning. And if you don't think that's a positive, ask Dallas fans how they feel about their backup situation today.

Leftwich, who said after the game, "I truly don't know the offense yet," rallied what had been a stagnant Steeler offense as he took the place of an injured Roethlisberger in the second half. His trademark windup and fastball were highly effective, to the tune of a 70% completion percentage, 129 yards, and two scoring drives in two quarters of action.

The damage to Roethlisberger is currently unknown but not unexpected in the least. Given the state of the offense line and Roethlisberger's propensity for holding onto the ball, it was only a matter of time until he would go down in some way, shape, or form. Here's hoping it's not too serious. [Update: he's day-to-day and should be ready to go on Sunday]

But Big Ben did not look himself last night, with only 5-17, 50 yards, and an interception on his first half resume (although he did punch in a short TD set up by an Andre Frazier blocked punt in the second quarter). Better to have him healthy than banged up to the point of being ineffective. And that's the peace of mind that Leftwich provided.

The return of Willie Parker was encouraging, as #39 finished with 70 yards and a touchdown against a stingy Redskins defense. I was glad to see the inclusion of Mewelde Moore, who caught three balls for 45 yards out of the backfield, a development I've begged about two years for.

Santonio Holmes, off of a one-week, ganja-related time-out, also made his presence felt, with his knockout blow of a touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. It's also worth noting that Santonio has officially lost his title as the Steelers' #1 deep threat after Nate Washington had another 50-yard reception, his fourth in as many games. Finally, the experiment started years ago by Bill Cowher and company has come to fruition.

With all of that being said, I guess we can get around to talking about the defense. But what else can you say? They allowed a total of 221 yards, they held the Redskins on 12 of 15 third downs, and in all actuality, they really didn't allow any points, they were merely a victim of field position set up by a failed onside kick and an interception in Steeler territory.

The defense became the first unit to pick off Washington QB Jason Campbell, and they did it twice, for extra measure. Their seven sacks of Campbell were Roethlisberger-esque, led by future Pro Bowler Lamarr Woodley with two. James Farrior had a whopping 13 tackles (12 solo), 1/2 sack, and one questionable/dumb personal foul penalty, depending on your interpretation of the rules and/or the way Farrior interpreted said rules. I think Mike Tomlin is still giving the ref an earful about the play as we speak.

The Steelers pick up where they left off on Sunday against the 4-4 Indianapolis Colts, who've been all over the map this year. It's a 4:15 start, which means national TV coverage on CBS. I hope Peyton is ready.

Game Notes:

--Sorry for getting the recap up so late today. I had it all typed, bumped a button on my keyboard, and wiped out virtually the whole thing. Had to start over from scratch. I thought Blogger.com had an autosave feature, but it must've been sleeping in after that late football game.

--Steven Seagal fans, you weren't seeing things last night. That was Casey Rabach, a center out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, not Casey Ryback, Navy Seal turned chef, and subject of Under Siege and Under Siege 2.



--I must admit, the Redskins have an interesting roster. Outside of the usual Portises,and Randle-Els, you've got Pittsburgh's own Jason Taylor, former league MVP Shaun Alexander, former Pitt Panther H.B. Blades, blog-friendly tight end Chris Cooley, infamous Vikings boat attendee Fred Smoot, and heralded former Hawaii QB Colt Brennan.

And I can't forget practice-squadder Horace Gant, whose college is listed as "St. Olaf". Isn't that the hometown of Golden Girl Rose Nylund? (And don't pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about).



--A 1o-foot boa slithers into car in Florida, Pastor (wearing Steeler gear) explains what happened. Steeler Nation is everywhere (and obviously concentrated in the D.C. area).



--Don't forget to vote! Here's how politics collide with the NFL.



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2 comments:

John said...

I am listening to sports radio in DC following the butt kicking the Steelers gave the Redskins. Apparently the crowd noise was so loud that the Redskins had to switch to the silent snap count when in the shotgun.

Let me repeat that ... the crowd noise generated by the visiting teams fans was so loud that the home team had to switch to the silent count.

Unbelievable...

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Thank you for being a friend... going down the road and back again... you're heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.