The Steelers got a dose of what they had been dishing out last week when the Chicago Bears handed them a 17-14 defeat in the final seconds of the game. Now they must bounce back against their always tough rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, who are coming off an upset win over the Green Bay Packers.
The Steelers jumped off as though they were going to rout the Windy City team, after one impressive drive ended with a score and Pittsburgh going up 7-0. Once they got the ball back they marched down the field again, but a Ben Roethlisberger interception ended the drive and ended their momentum. It was all downhill from there with both teams looking fairly good between the 20s but neither taking it in for the score.
|BEAR HUG—Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker (39) is tackled by Chicago Bears linebacker Nick Roach (53), defensive end Alex Brown (96) and linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer in the first quarter in Chicago.
Pittsburgh had two opportunities to win the game but normally reliable kicker Jeff Reed missed two relatively easy kicks, which set up the Bears final drive in which they took all the time off the clock and finally kicked a field goal with just 11 seconds left. This will be a tactic for most teams in the future, to run time off the clock when they have the lead to stop the Steelers from having any chance of coming back late in the fourth quarter to win the game.
One good thing did come from the defeat, and that was the running game. Willie Parker had 47 yards on 14 carries and looked impressive on most of his runs. Rashard Mendenhall had 39 yards on just 3 carries. For some reason he didn’t play that much. The Steelers outrushed the Bears 103 to 43, which was a far cry from the 36 yards they got against the Tennessee Titans.
The aerial attack as usual was impressive with Roethlisberger battling the Bears’ new gunslinger Jay Cutler. Ben was 23 of 35 for 221 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Cutler was 27 of 38 for 236 yards with 2 touchdowns. Again Ben distributed the ball pretty evenly with Hines Ward catching 6 for 57 yards, Santonio Holmes 5 for 83 yards and Heath Miller 3 for 24 yards. However, he needs to find his running backs out of the backfield more and his third receiver. Someone has to step up and take Nate Washington’s place as the third receiver.
The Bengals upset the highly rated Packers with Carson Palmer outdueling Aaron Rodgers for a 31-24 hard fought victory. There goes that easy win we thought we had coming with the Bengals. Palmer was 15 of 23 for 185 yards and 3 touchdowns. But he was not a one man gang, Cedric Benson ran all over the highly rated Packers defense for 141 yards on 29 carries. The Bengals defense got into the act harassing Rodgers all around the field with Antwan Odom sacking him five times. Rookie Ray Maugluga was also impressive with one sack and two forced fumbles. If Cincinnati had not kept shooting themselves in the foot with 13 penalties for more than 100 yards it may have been a lopsided game.
They appear to finally have put it all together, passing, running and defense. But this remains to be seen against the Steelers.
The other two teams in the Steelers division did as was expected. The Baltimore Ravens, behind a last minute game saving tackle by none other than Ray Lewis, beat the explosive San Diego Chargers 31-26 to stay undefeated at 2-0. Phillip Rivers had the best game of his career going 25 of 45 for 436 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. However, Joe Flacco continued to be impressive, going 17 of 26 for 190 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, once again proving that the only stat that matters is the win.
The Cleveland Browns are still looking for their first win as they lost to the Denver Broncos 27-6 for a 0-2 start.
One thing to watch out for in Tennessee, the Titans are 0-2 after losing to the Houston 34-31. If they lose their next game do they go back to Vince Young, who’s wasting his talent setting on the bench?