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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Post-Denver thoughts

Sorry these are so late, but after spending all night in the air and getting in at 5:30 a.m., the need for sleep took over.

© I loved how the Steelers consistently attacked Denver All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey again and again.

Bailey has the reputation as a shut-down cornerback. But the Steelers tested him over and over.

Bailey finished with a team-high 12 tackles, which is not a good thing if you're a cornerback.

© I asked Brett Keisel as we walked out of the stadium if the hometown officials - they're not really, but it works for this note - wanted to give him the sack trifecta with that ridiculous call late in the game on the pass he batted backwards.

But the fact was that Keisel's play helped set the tone in this one as Kyle Orton got less and less comfortable in the pocket.

Keisel's two sacks were the only ones the Steelers had, but they were in Orton's face from the second quarter on once Dick LeBeau realized the Broncos were not going to – could not? – test the Steeler deep.

© Denver is a fraud. That will be a team that will be fortunate to finish this season with nine wins.

They're not bad, but they're also not going anywhere with Kyle Orton at quarterback.

I could be wrong about that since Denver gets four gimmee wins because of the division in plays in, but San Diego is going to win the AFC West.

© Rashard Mendenhall is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and just hit the 100-carry mark for the season Monday night.

Many people will focus on his long runs, but I was much more impressed when he hammered the ball into the line early in the game, getting positive yards each time.

He still goes to that spin move a little too often, but he's starting to get it.

© Troy Polamalu continues to amaze me.

On one play late in the game, he lined up outside of the left tackle and at the snap took off across the field and covered wide receiver Brandon Stokley in the right flats, covering a good 50 yards before Orton could get the ball there.

It was something only Polamalu does.

© What makes the Steelers so good?

Three defensive starters were out and it looked like the exact same defense that has taken the field in the first seven games this season.

In fact, the replacements perhaps outplayed the usual starters.

Keyaron Fox, starting for Lawrence Timmons, was everywhere helping shut down Denver's running game and finished with a team-high seven tackles.

Tyrone Carter, starting in place of Ryan Clark, picked off a pair of passes at free safety, taking one of them to the end zone.

And while the stat line says that Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood combined for just one tackle subbing for Travis Kirschke at defensive end, they were very disruptive.


Anonymous said...

One note, Marshall had a pretty big night against a pretty good corner as well. We weren't the only ones picking on shut down corner.

Anonymous said...

I could not watch the game. I'm interested in details of how Eason and Hood played. Did Denver try to run at them? Any insights or greater details appreciated.

Patrick said...

Keisel played lights out. Lots of other guys played great games as well, but he really stood out to me.

Mike Wallace was an incredible draft pick. That guy is playing so far beyond what one would expect from a rookie WR, especially one taken in the 3rd Rd. His route on the TD was perfect and the ESPN squiggley thing showed it nicely, but still didn't do it justice. That is a veteran play.

Dan Sepulveda also had a nice game.

Dr Obvious said...

Agreed on Mendy's ugly runs. They look like 2-3 yard stuffs, but he falls forward and fights to make them 4-6 yard gains. Great stuff.

Greg Mercer said...

the key to being a successful running is getting positive yardage on every carry... especially when it looks like nothing's there.

that's what Parker didn't do.

Dan G. Switzer, II said...

Keisel always seems to play well in Denver. He had a few really big plays in the 05 AFFC game and I recall him playing well last time we were in Denver.

Maybe Denver reminds him of home, or maybe it's just close enough to home that he gets some family & friends there to see him play.

marc said...

agree with all the comments about mendy.

though, the o-line is really looking good at times. i'll be the first to admit i'm surprised how well they're playing.

imo, wallace might be the piece that can put this offense over the top. his speed appears to be causing major matchup problems for other teams not to mention he is clearly a quick learner.

it's hard to point to any glaring weaknesses for this team right now. scary, really. let's hope they keep it up.

Dale Lolley said...

Keisel told me after the game his family was there. Said he wanted to get a couple of sacks for his nephews, who don't get to see him play too much.

Wallace told me he was originally supposed to run a curl on that TD, but broke it off when he saw Ben roll to his right. Everybody jumped Ward and left him.

Dale Lolley said...

And yes, Denver tried early to run to the right and it went nowhere. Then, they pretty much stopped trying to run at all.

Steelers Depot said...

The linebacker play was tremendous, especially after the adjustments of not biting on the play action fakes. Tomlin said it best, Farrior and Fox were disruptive. They did not dare look Deebo's way and Woodley held down the opposite outside firmly. A couple of the INT's were caused by Farrior and Fox dropping into coverage after smelling out pass, it caused Orton to try to finesse over the top and the ball sailed on him.

Mendenhall seems more comfortable, I notated 4 mistakes in the game, but otherwise solid. The inside runs were impressive as he seems to be squaring the shoulders more and running down hill.

Not enough is said about MeMo, as well. A true team player that can contribute in many ways. He knows his role and does it well.

Patrick said...


any word on if Clark's body responded negatively at all? He was jumping around at the end, and if anything went bad, we would have probably heard by now. But just curious.

Dale Lolley said...

Clark's fine.

And no, there is no interest in Larry Johnson.

Ben Culbert said...

Weren't we missing "4" defensive starters?
Are you forgetting about Aaron Smith?

Anonymous said...

Did they workout and monitor Clark while they were in Denver, just in case they have to make a return trip in January?

Dale Lolley said...

I don't know about whether they monitored him or not. I'm sure they did. They cover their bases like that.
As for a rematch there, I'm pretty sure they took care of that Sunday. And as I stated in this column, I'll be very surprised if the Broncos win the West.

marc said...

i read somewhere that clark ran before the game and they monitored him then and that they did not see any problems.

Anonymous said...


Great comments, particularly your observations about the Broncos who have been exposed. There's a lot of talent on that team but they're missing some key components. Especially at quarterback which is why I believe our defense looked so good with so many starters missing. I don't want to take anything away from Keyaron Fox or Ty Carter who had outstanding games but I look forward to Timmons and Clark getting back in the fold against the much improved Bengals.


rocket9 said...

You get the sense that this team is just getting into a groove. We had a lot of rookies make the squad and I believe it takes time to integrate them into the team atmosphere. Even if they aren't playing much it seems to be the case. But they are 6-2 even so. The D seems to be playing close to last year's amazing level again, the O-line is a revelation and have put a lot of questions many had about their abilities in the background. We knew about the skill positions and with Mendy having a break out year the running game seems in good hands. Agreed about Mwelde..he's an indispensable part of this team. He does it all with no complaints about playing time etc..LOVE that guy.

ST's..the coverage teams played much better this week. Logan is running hard but the holes don't seem to be there for him. I am not worried about it..he'll break a few down the stretch IMO.

It's hard to find cracks in this team. I am a big Aaron Smith fan and even his absence seems to be handled by committee. A big change from the last time he went out when the run D basically collapsed!

They are an elite team but there are others like Indy and NO who are having monster years. It sucks having a franchise are there every year with a chance and the Steelers are brilliant at building every part of the team up. They almost always prove me wrong about personnel decisions. The O-line is just the latest example. They said all that was needed was time together and the cohesion would happen. Thats exactly what appears to have taken place. Thats why they are the organization with 6 Lombardis.