Ouch!

Jacksonville 9 - Pittsburgh 0

Losing stinks! Especially when it has been nearly ten months since you've last experienced the feeling. However, I'm not all that concerned about the Steelers. Although they were shut out, there were plenty of positives to take from the game, most notably that Ben finally got some playing time under his belt after a horrendous summer.

Given the circumstances, I don't think Ben played all that badly. He actually looked pretty sharp on the first two drives, and was a victim of some dropped passes. As usual, he looked best on play action and when driven out of the pocket. Unfortunately, since the running game never matieralized, he was not able to take advantage of play action except in the first quarter. The biggest problem was that the team could not convert on third downs. They got in plenty of third and four or third and three situations, but they just couldn't get a new set of downs. Personally, I would have liked to see a few more screens or shovel passes, and maybe another shot or two downfield. Ben barely missed on an early deep shot to a diving Ward in the endzone. I thought that maybe Ben was going to draw on some of his late game magic and lead a winning drive when down 6-0 late in the fourth quarter, but he threw an interception. His poor play in the 4th quarter was extremely uncharacteristic, and I chalk it up to the high heat, his (slight fever), and his first game back. All in all, I think Ben is fine, and I look for him to have a big game against the Bungles this coming Sunday.

The defense looked outstanding. They did lose the time of possession battle, but the Pittsburgh defense is always a defense that bends without breaking. Fred Taylor made some nice runs, but most of his 90 yards came on a few big runs. For the most part, he wasn't that much of a factor. Polamalu looked like a lame duck with one arm out there. He was obviously more hurt than the team let on, because he was missing tackles left and right. Hopefully, he is back to full strenght soon. Anytime you hold the opposition without a touchdown, I think, should be considered a success.

Now, time to move on. Can't dwell on the shutout aspect. A loss is a loss. Better now than in December (or, January). Cinci is coming to town this weekend. They are pretty banged up. The Steelers need to win this game, because they then have a bye week followed by a trip to San Diego. I think the team will be o.k. if they come out of the first four games at 2-2, because their schedule softens up a bit after that. Unfortunately, the Ravens are playing lights out, and we can't fall too far behind them. This division is likely to be decided in the last 3 weeks of the season, in which the Steelers must travel to Carolina and Cinci, and host the Ravens. They better be at the top of their game by then. Given their history in December, I think they will be just fine.

And, before I forget----major props to the Jags. I've liked this team ever since Jack Del Rio became their head coach. They seem like a team very much in the mold of the Steelers. Last night, they played outstanding. Given that they are the type of defense that gives Manning fits (and, makes him throw fits in post game conferences) and the fact that Indy can't stop the run to save their lives, I think they have a good shot at beating Indy this weekend, and if they do, they will be in control of their division.

Go Steelers!

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