Big Lead Sports Bar



STEELERS (1-0) 20
CARDINALS (0-1) 10
Even though the tickets said "Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals", Thursday night's preseason game looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Pitt Panther Alumni All-Stars. Larry Fitzgerald...Tyler Palko...Gerald Hayes...Larod Stephens-Howling...Teryl Austin on the staff...and even a former Panther assistant (Jon Gruden) in the booth. Makes you wonder how the Cardinals passed over Shady McCoy for Beanie Wells. Regardless, the Wannstache was beaming from ear to ear, as per his tweets.

As for the game itself, it will go down in NFL history as the event interrupted by the news that Michael Vick will now share a locker room with McCoy as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Past Eagle sideshows aside (unless you've forgotten The Terrell Owens Experience), we can now move forward towards a new story the media can latch onto and ride out for a few months. I guess all those prognostications about Vick joining the Steelers turned out to be false after all. I know, I'm as shocked as you are.

Being that this is the third paragraph and all I've talked about is Pitt and Michael Vick, I probably should discuss some of Thursday's game play. As you could imagine, I was electrified by the dynamic catches of much-maligned sophomore Limas Sweed. Much like those in attendance at Heinz Field, I stood in the living room and gave Daniel Sepulveda a standing O when he delivered the first non-Berger/Ernster punt of 2009. I watched in silent awe as seventh-string RB Isaac Redman scored not once, but twice inside the five yard line. And I thorougly enjoyed watching Dennis Dixon and Shaun McDonald carve up the Cardinals' backups' backups.

It wasn't the most exciting 60 minutes of football you'll ever see, but it was a solid effort for the defending champs, who eventually finished off the Arizona Cardinals for a 20-10 defense of their Super Bowl crown.

Entering the fourth quarter, the biggest storyline to come out of this game continued to be the breaking of the Vick news, but you'll have that when the score is knotted at 3-3 after 45 minutes. However, things would pick up quickly as the Steelers took advantage of two Cardinal interceptions, one thrown by Brian St. Pierre (or was it Brian Jackson?) and one thrown by Palko, while adding a three-pointer from camp-fodder kicker Piotr Czech to finish off their 17-point offensive explosion in the fourth stanza.

The Steeler running game left a little to be desired, with a lowly 2.8 YPC on 32 attempts. Redman led the way with 32 yards on 10 carries, while Rashard Mendenhall added 24 yards on nine totes. Frank the Tank touched the ball only twice for three yards, much to my dismay.

The Steeler passing game finished with 190 yards on 15 completions split among Dixon, Charlie Batch, and some other guy who's not half the quarterback that Drew Brees is. Hines Ward, Heath Miller, and Santonio Holmes combined for three catches and 22 yards in limited action. And for those of you scoring at home, the offensive line allowed a grand total of zero sacks. So let's all pop some Cristal and make it rain over that development.

As for the defense, it was impressive except for an efficient Palko-engineered touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. They sacked Cardinal quarterbacks four times and picked them off twice, with Ziggy Hood finding the stat sheet for his first career sack. Offseason pickup Keiwan Ratliff led the way with six tackles and a sack, while your 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year (also known as James Harrison) added six tackles to the cause while failing to return any Kurt Warner passes 100 yards. We also got a healthy dose of "Dick LeBeau for the Hall of Fame" propaganda deservedly injected into the broadcast.

The Steelers will not suit up against NFL competition again until Saturday, August 22 at 8 PM against Albert Haynesworth, Antwaan Randle-El, Daniel Snyder, and the Washington Redskins. Meanwhile, the Cardinals will continue to comb the waiver wire to try and fill out the balance of their roster with former Steelers and Pitt Panthers. But after that, they'll also play on the 22nd against the San Diego, with a 10 PM Eastern start against San Diego, who, as usual, probably has the best roster in the league this year. Steeler football is back, my friends. Live it, breathe it, love it.

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Unknown said...

All i can say is our defense is still SICK...our offense is running game is ill.

Unknown said...

I was pleased with the play of some our 1st-and 2nd-year guys, including Sweed, Wallace, Davis, Ziggy, and Burnett (made up for that fumble with a great INT and return). Frank the Tank better step up because Redman could be an undrafted diamond in the rough. He at least is a contender for Gary Russell's old roster spot.