Sunday, December 14, 2014
Sunday's game had a familiar feel to it as the Steelers dominated the first quarter only to lead 6-0. They had already done that in losses at Cleveland and to New Orleans at home this season.
But William Gay had other plans.
Much-maligned over the years, Gay has quietly turned into a very good cornerback. I say quietly because Gay refuses to talk about himself.
Even after Sunday's game-changing interception return for a touchdown, Gay refused to talk about anything but what a great team win this was and how it was a much-needed victory.
In many cases, you appreciate a guy who puts the team before himself. But come one, Will, you can open up and talk about how you're the only corner in Steelers' history to have three pick-6s in one season.
@ That interception was huge. It was the game's lone turnover, and the fact the Steelers scored off of it was big.
The offense had put up a bunch of yards in the first quarter but had already stalled twice. Gay showed the way to the end zone.
@ Atlanta really sold out on stopping the run and doubling Antonio Brown.
And some of the other guys stepped up and made big contributions.
Ben Roethlisberger was 9 of 10 when targeting Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller for 138 yards.
It was a big step forward for Wheaton, in particular. All too many times this season, Wheaton has looked out of sync with Roethlisberger in road games.
That was not the case Sunday.
* The defense gave up some yards, but came up with some big stops, as well.
Holding Atlanta to a pair of short field goals in the third quarter was huge, as was a three-and-out in the fourth quarter.
Gay and Vince Williams deserve credit for hammering Harry Douglas to the ground on second and third down to keep him from getting the first down.
* Head coach Mike Tomlin said he basically made Marcus Gilbert a healthy scratch because Mike Adams was healthier than Gilbert.
He might want to re-think that strategy moving forward, though Gilbert will certainly be really healthy now.
Same goes for James Harrison.
* I've watched football a long time and covered the NFL for nearly half my life. If Jason Worilds did anything to warrant a penalty flag for his sack of Matt Ryan in the second quarter, I'm not aware of it.
In fact, it was a nearly textbook hit. He didn't lead with his helmet. He didn't hit Ryan high. He did put him to the ground in a not-so-nice way, but that's kind of the idea of football - at least it used to be.
* The Steelers won a game in which Le'Veon Bell was limited to 47 yards on 20 carries. That's significant.
Equally as significant was the fact that while the Steelers struggled running the ball overall, they were able to convert on third-and-short running it a number of times and score a pair of rushing touchdowns.
It wasn't a strong running game. But it was effective when it needed to be.
* If things play out the way they currently look, the Ravens will have played three rookie quarterbacks to close out their season.
They faced Blake Bortles Sunday, will get Tom Savage next week at Houston and Johnny Manziel in Week 17.
Baltimore doesn't have any healthy defensive backs but it won't matter.
The Steelers had better keep winning if they want a home playoff game.