Kudos to the Steelers for a big, big win. There’s no reason now that they shouldn’t go at least 2-2 with Ben Roethlisberger out, which should set them up for the 10-6 season I’ve predicted.
As I’ve constantly said during training camp and the preseason, people saying the Steelers hadn’t done anything to improve themselves weren’t looking at the big picture. Getting Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith back healthy was huge.
It also appears as if Lawrence Timmons is ready to join the team’s other three starting linebackers with a Pro Bowl trip this season.
I know it’s only one game and certainly things can fall apart - as we saw last season.
But the defense is playing with a big chip on its shoulder after faltering last season. They’ve got something to prove.
© I could say the same thing about Hines Ward. I questioned how much he had left in the tank after he had a quiet training camp and preseason.
But he stepped up in a big way against the Falcons.
© One of the unsung heroes in this game was punter Daniel Sepulveda.
Five punts with a 46.8-yard net – NET – is a pretty good day at the office.
This was a battle of field position. And while Atlanta punter Michael Koenen had a strong day as well - pinning the Steelers inside their own 20 four times – it was his 37-yard punt in overtime that only made it to midfield that was the special teams mistake of the game.
© Mike Tomlin said after the game that had the Steelers won the coin flip to start overtime, he would have taken the ball.
I think that would have been a mistake. The way the Steelers were playing defense, I’d rather have the game in their hands than in those of Dennis Dixon with a long field.
© Early word is that Tony Hills will replace Max Starks at left tackle next week at Tennessee. Hills made great strides during the preseason, but I’m not sure he’s ready for that just yet.
Jonathan Scott, who was OK filling in there Sunday after Starks went down with an ankle injury, could also be in the mix.
A better move might be to move Trai Essex from right guard to left tackle and start Ramon Foster at right guard. But they won’t want to tear up the whole offensive line.
© Imagine this if you will. If the Jets beat the Ravens at home Monday night, the Steelers will be alone in first place in the AFC North after Week 1.
© This from Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon describing the Steelers offensive line: Mammoth offensive line. Big guys up front. They do a good job firing off the ball - pretty athletic guys, and they have a quarterback who can run around.”
I’ve been saying that this is the biggest offensive line in Steelers history. They used that to their advantage Sunday.
It’s going to be a problem, especially for 4-3 teams, who are going to be giving up a lot of weight on the ends.
© I overestimated how good Matt Ryan was when I made my pick of the Falcons to win this game.
Ryan’s passes don’t have a lot of zip on them and his outs take forever to get to the sideline. Without a running game to help him, he was pretty toothless.
He was also way to dependent on one receiver. Roddy White was targeted 23 times in this game for 13 receptions.
I’ve been covering the NFL for 18 years and can’t recall seeing so many passes intended for one receiver. That made the Falcons very predictable.