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STEELERS CB JOE HADEN shut down the very potent Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones, in the Steelers’ 41-17 victory, Oct. 7.

There was a certain cloud of doom hanging over Heinz Field as Steeler Nation anticipated the invasion of the Atlanta Falcons playing the Steelers, Oct. 7. Both teams were reeling from sudden and unexpected losses to begin their season and as of game time, neither squad seemed to have discovered the antidote to end their misfortunes. But when the final gun sounded, the Steelers, on a very hot and humid afternoon at Heinz Field, achieved a very, very unexpected 41-17 victory over a usually high-flying Falcons team.

The Falcons swooped into Pittsburgh flying very eagle-like with that predatory “look” in their eyes, talons gleaming and extended focused on their prey. But they exited the Steel City appearing as if they were related to a flock of New York City Central Park pigeons, waiting for a few stale bread crumbs to be tossed their way.

There was something different about this day, this game and this team. During their previous four games when facing the offensive coordinators of the Browns, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Ravens, Keith Butler, the defensive coordinator of the Steelers, appeared to be playing checkers in regards to his defensive game plan while the opposing offensive coordinators were playing chess.

Everyone was pining about the subpar defensive talent that the Steelers were trotting onto the field, but many observers failed to point out that many of the defensive schemes that Mr. Butler devised never transitioned from the blackboard to the gridiron.

Extraordinary Steelers cornerback Joe Haden had his mojo working on the Falcons’ all-world wide receiver Julio Jones, blanketing him for almost 60 minutes. Haden limited Jones to a mere five catches for a measly 62 yards. That, my friends, is a very seldom accomplished feat by any defensive back that is charged with covering Jones.

Although the Pittsburgh offense was by far the most balanced it’s been all season, the “bromance” between Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown almost short-circuited Pittsburgh’s offensive momentum right before the intermission. With 34 seconds left in the first half, and the Steelers hanging on to a 13-10 lead, the Steelers had the ball, first-and-goal at the Atlanta 7-yard line. Roethlisberger attempted a pass to Brown which was incomplete. On the very next play when “Big” Ben attempted to force a pass to his “buddy,” the pass was intercepted by the Falcons, erasing a possible three or six points from the board for the Steelers! Brown seemed to exhibit a sort of “pseudo” modesty after the game. When Brown was asked, “Does it feel good to have your first 100-yard receiving game (for the 2018 season?)” Brown acted as if he didn’t notice. “Well, I’m counting wins. You can probably ask Dom (Rinelli) how many (100-yard) games I got.”

Hmm, or maybe someone should ask Randy Fichtner, the Steelers’ offensive coordinator, how many 100-yard receiving games that Antonio Brown has, being as though Fichtner bore the brunt of Brown’s wrath during the Steelers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field a few weeks ago.

The Steelers defense also received a few “questionable” penalties and Mike Tomlin was not pleased. As far as the hands-to-the-face calls on Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree: “Those look like legitimate calls, we got to get better there but some of the other stuff is a joke. We got to get a better National Football League. These penalties are costing people games and jobs. We got to get them correct so I am pissed about it, to be quite honest with you.”

The following is my advice to the NFL. If a dragon is asleep, don’t provoke it unless your fire retardant suit has been tested.

(Aubrey Bruce: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com)

 

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