Man it's been awhile since we've been able to properly celebrate a bigtime Steelers win. Division losses to the Browns and Baltimore without Big Ben made for dark times. Before that the win over the Chiefs was muted with uncertainty in Ben's future. Charlie Batch came off a rough loss and stole a win from the Ravens in their home stadium. My voice is still hoarse from the roar of emotion I let out as that Suisham kick sailed through.
So it looks like Ben might be coming back next week. 1-2 in 3 division games without him and a spot in the playoffs up for grabs. If you're expecting 3 losses in that span and come out with a huge win in Baltimore, that's a cumulative win.
Charlie Batch: I'm glad the Steelers held Ben out this week for a few reasons. One, Ben doesn't rush back and risk a 49ers-like crap game. Also, Charlie Batch get a chance at redemption. Following the loss to the Browns it looked like Charlie might've had to deal with leaving a 3-INT loss to the Browns out there as your final decision as a starting QB. Redemption was sweet, Charlie played a stunningly-calm game and displayed fantastic reads through his progressions. A lot of love must go to Maurkice Pouncey for sliding to guard and letting Legursky play his better position, allowing the O-Line untapped potential that makes so much sense now that you think about it. Charlie had a pocket for much of the evening and made huge throws once he settled in. 25 of 36 for 276, 1 TD and 1 INT. And 4 of 5 motorcycle helmets. All of Pittsburgh is like a proud father when Charlie Batch wins, bonus points for having it come against the Ravens.
WRs: Errr, any worse and the WRs might've looked to upstage the kookiness the RBs displayed last week. Manny Sanders had a crippling 2-play personal sequence with the 14-point swing fumble and the drop on 3rd down of the next series. He did have 1 final target, catching a gigantic pass over the middle late, which he really needed. Man he looked like he wanted to throw up on someone's face on the sideline. Just rough stuff for a kid to go through on national television. And this isn't even getting into Mike Wallace. He drops the pass on the free play, Baltimore having jumped offside. A catch gets like 25 yards or so and a 1st Down. The drop gets 3rd and slightly shorter. Next play Charlie overthrows Mike in the endzone. That drop costs the team 4 points after Suisham splits the uprights. Antonio Brown had a couple catches, but the WR corps wasn't on yesterday. 2 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Defense: James Harrison looked about as good as he has all season to this point. 7 tackles, 6 of them solo. And a strip-sack that just reversed momentum of some caliber of physics that I couldn't explain even if I paid attention in AP Physics in high school. You can argue any way on the pass interference on Cortez Allen that set the Ravens up in the red zone, but Cortez played well with Ike Taylor limping out of the game. And Ryan Clark thanks Joe Flacco for Joe Flacco-ing that gift INT right into his hands. 3.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Probably deserve a better rating, and I'll admit it. I guess I'm still holding out for that game where the Steelers have 8 takeaways. Just some carryover from last week on my part.
Heath: How awesome was that 43-yard catch he had in the open field? Just let the big guy run free. And then the absolutely insane TD pictured above. 97 yards and a score against the Ravens in a game where with the way the WRs were playing you had to be the 3rd string QB's safety blanket. That defines a player, defines a team. Heath Miller had that game in front of most of the country. Pro Bowl performance. 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
And now after that brutal 3-game Balt-Cle-Balt divisional stretch without Ben, we have the odd home game against the Chargers 1 PM EST next week. Blah blah quarterbacks drafted the same year blah blah.
(thanks to Doug for the banner pic)