Yo I just finally exhaled. Like right now. When you watch 60 minutes of football with no touchdowns and no resolution, breathing is not a priority. Especially when the Falcons get the ball in overtime. But the defense did their job, getting the ball back to the offense at midfield. And Mendenhall broke a run that should finally get his detractors on board.
15-9 Steelers. Yes, the most comforting 15-9 OT win ever.
Time for some PSAMP-specific rankings. As always, I’ll only pick out a few individuals who I feel impacted the game in one way or another. There’s plenty more that I could easily include. Bruce Arians, who was creative on that first drive but seemed to hit a wall shortly thereafter. The O-Line, who played much better than expected. Pouncey, Jeff Reed, and really…anyone. If you think of anyone you’d like to highlight, let me know.
On to mine.
Dennis Dixon: He only missed on 8 throws. 18 of 26 for 236 yards with that one pick. And it really felt like a 60/40ish game. He’d complete a few and look competant, but then lose his touch and zip one right at a defender or into the turf. As a Dixon supporter, I was glad he got his screwup out of the way early. After that he actually moved the ball downfield. That toss to Mike Wallace wasn’t perfect, but Wallace’s speed garnered enough separation that Dixon could comfortably float one in there. And Hines was Hines, which is enough for any inexperienced QB to pad his stats. A lot of the critics only asked for Dennis to help the team to 2-2 in Big Ben’s absense, but winning the opener could elevate the expectations. 3.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Too harsh? Whatever.
Rashard Mendenhall: 22 carries for 120 yards. Yeah, that last carry helped his average, but he had a few nice runs up the gut against a defensive line that played better than most thought. He was also the recipient of some Jim Mora-jinxing (which I’ll explain later) when Mora commented on Beetlejuice only gaining 40-some yards to that point. Next play, he took it for about 10 or so right through the heart of the defense. Redman’s power running also helped keep the defense on their heels, which only works to Mendy’s benefit. 5 of 5 helmets. He did win the game.
Defense: Head and Shoulders are probably thrilled with their pitchman. Troy was a beast, mostly blowing up run plays early. That interception was stunning, too. Lawrence Timmons had one of the best games I’ve seen out of him. Ziggy Hood got some nice pressure, and it was BEAUTIFUL to have his mentor, Aaorn Smith, back and in action. The DBs got a lot of credit during the game, even with Roddy White catching a billion balls thanks to Bryant McFadden giving him some space. Silverback was a nightmare and Woodley played like he wanted a contract. The Atlanta offense seemed poised to score touchdoowns at will with their advantage in field position for most of the game, but the D held them to just 3 FGs. 4.5 of 5 helmets. The D-Line and linebackers had incredible push, which will need to happen over these next 3 games.
Jim Mora: Wow, you could tell Mora was pulling for his old team. He kept talking about all the Falcons players he drafted, and what each guy was gonna contribute to the game. And not even lying, EVERY person he talked about did exactly the opposite of his observations within a play or 2. He praised Dennis during his first real downfield drive and then Dennis is picked off. He mentions how Matt Ryan is supposed to validate the hype with an end-of-game drive and Polamalu snags his next throw. 0 of 5 motorcycle helmets, or 5 of 5 if we’re just focusing on how he helped the Falcons mess up.
Was I overly positive? Yeah, probably. But that’s what happens when everyone is expecting you to lose. Despite the Steelers winning their last 7 openers and playing at home, the Falcons were favored.
Steelers play at Tennessee next week at 1 PM. Man I hate playing in Tennessee. And even though our D kept Michael Turner in check, it’s gonna be way harder with Chris Johnson.
(thanks to Doug for the banner pic)