As we venture into week five, the Pittsburgh Steelers were not exactly in a must win scenario. However, they were in a position that needed a win. More for morale and building the unity of the team. Let’s go over some of the high points of this week’s game.
The Running Game was back on Point.
James Conner is in a difficult position. He is the rookie running back for the Steelers, and is trying to make his place on the team. However, he also has extra pressure on him as well. He is tossed into the fire while the saga of Le veon Bell continues. Bell is a great player and certainly hard shoes to fill, but wisely Conner is not trying to be Bell. He is being himself and finding his place on the Steelers offense.
Week one he shot out of the gate like a house of fire. Sensing that he had the opportunity to make himself a staple on this team. Weeks two and three he didn’t do as well, bringing the naysayers out of the woodwork saying that perhaps he wasn’t Steelers material. Today he endeavored to prove them wrong and ran like the Steelers tough man he is turning into. Using him for the bulk of running yardage and scoring two touchdowns. If he can stay consistent he will truly be in a Steelers uniform for many years to come.
Shades of the Steel Curtain.
One thing that has been sadly missing, especially in the first quarters of the other four games this season is the defense. The Steelers giving their opponents early leads and then needing to climb out of a hole repeatedly, is not only difficult. It brings down the team moral and makes them start pointing fingers at each other. This week the defense was running on all cylinders. Stacking up a total of six sacks. They also came away with a forced fumble that was recovered for a touchdown.
This is the defense that the Steelers need to see on a regular basis. Keeping the other team from scoring and jumping out to an early lead like last week, keeps them in the driver’s seat. When their opponents can’t get a rhythm, their offense has to keep trying new things and a strong defense with keeping them off balance. That is a hard task to try. Especially with men like TJ Watt breathing down the quarterback’s neck.
Ben back to being Ben.
Ben Roethlisberger gets a lot of critics in the press, he also takes a lot of blame on himself when the Steelers lose a game. He is not one to make excuses or blame others. When he wasn’t hitting Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith Schuster or any of the other weapons he has on offense. He said it was a problem with him and he had to make the corrections. Granted it doesn’t help when the media is all over them and Brown is a passionate player who sometimes shows his frustration on the sidelines and/or on social media.
If week five is an indication, corrections are already done. Even though Roethlisberger threw one interception, all totaled he was 19-29 for 250 yards and three touchdowns. That combined with the running game and the defense made for a very hard day for the Atlanta Falcons. Now the main quest is to keep this quality up for the rest of the season.
There is only room in the playoffs for those who play hard and have made the least mistakes during the regular season. However as we have seen over the years, a perfect season doesn’t automatically equate to a Super Bowl win. While some may think it is too early to plan ahead that far. Any good coach always has it in the back of his mind and keeps looking towards that goal. The biggest job for coach Mike Tomlin now is to keep the Steelers doing what they did this week and keep getting better.
The Steelers are always known as a family kind of feel team. While this is a good and respected thing across the league. As with every family, arguments will happen, tempers will flair and things are said. Any strong family, airs out their grievances and moves on better and stronger. Sadly with today’s social media influence, any gripes will be more public than years past and also blown out of proportion and added to. The team needs to be able to push these aside and work on themselves. For this week at least, they have. Here we go.