On this, the weekend of the most celebrated play in the history of professional football and only 40 years in the making, the daughter of the man who launched the ball down the field and into history, Rachel Bradshaw, sang the National Anthem beautifully. And my first thought was, "Well she certainly sings better than the old man."
* Pre-game musings had me thinking that Dick LeBeau was going to try to come after the Bengals with some "A" gap blitzes. I have my moments of clarity as the master craftsman of the fire-zone blitz sent the dogs after Andy Dalton three out of the first four Bengals snaps, which netted one first down and four total plays. The Fire-X, which has both Foote and Timmons crossing into the same side of the ball and into parallel gaps, is a great way to get after rookie guard Kevin Zeitler and get his head spinning early. The Bengals have had problems of late defending the interior of their line. Fire-X's have a tendency to test the communication skill of the interior threesome.
* On the Steelers first series, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back and Cincy DT Geno Atkins did a slap-uppercut to get the outside edge on David DeCastro and eventually a sack. I kept thinking "Keep your head back David," as I walked by. When a DT as quick as Geno gets you leaning forward where you are looking to head-butt the man, a guy like Atkins will get the edge every time. Keeping your head back keeps you upright and able to move your feet.
* Still in the first quarter Ben dropped back and locked into Heath Miller running a post pattern. Tunch Ilkin made a great observation up in the booth that with all the talk about having to get more balls thrown at Heath, other teams know what's on your gourd. Leon Hall cut under the route and pick-sixed the Steelers to go up 7-0. In my own small mind Ben hasn't been looking off safeties and moving the corners as much as he used to prior to injury, nor is he seeing the field the same. I would think Hall had to be in full view of No. 7 at the release point, but my view of the field is different than his view of the field, and a whole lot safer, too.
* Keenan Lewis showed me he's got a true grasp of what it means to be a pro. As L.C. Greenwood once told me years ago, "Anybody can play this game healthy." Meaning that it takes a real pro to know how to cowboy up and play while injured, knowing that you will be lacking in some of your physical attributes, and therefore are susceptible to being "A day late and a dollar short" on any given play. On a third-and-9 from the Pittsburgh 23-yard line, Lewis was in man coverage on a Marvin Jones go route in the end zone. While the ball arced high into the corner, Lewis chopped his feet and tried to time it so that he could leap off his left foot and not the injured right knee. That's what I mean by being a real pro. His right knee was injured, but he's a gamer and made the play. A real pro might not have the same zippety-do-dah, physically, but he'll deliver the same production with a slight alteration to his game. I was impressed with Keenan's play given his injury status.
* I was cruising around the Steelers' bench in the third quarter and noticed that Steelers team doctor Joe Maroon, the man who invented the IMPACT baseline testing protocol for concussions and one of the preeminent nogginologists in the world, had a burn hole in the backside of his winter jacket the size of a large softball. I have documented my own travails at the hands of the perilous jet turbine heaters in this very same column numerous times. Obviously this very learned man hasn't learned the standard safety distance one must keep when warming themselves by the turbine heaters so that you or your jacket don't go up in flames. Somehow it made me feel better.
* Some people just attract bad mojo, I guess, so in going from one calamity to another, I found myself moving toward the sidelines after switching ends of the bench when Mike Wallace ran a reverse and was run out of bounds. Guess who nearly was launched on the sidelines on successive weekends? Yep, Doc Yates, 35 years long on the sidelines tending to players' injuries, never before taking a hit, and then on back-to-back weekends Doc Yates almost gets crushed. He took the big hit from Jason Witten in Dallas last week. This week only some last-second fancy footwork kept him from getting whacked again.
* Fourth quarter action had Josh Victorian high-pointing a Dalton pass along the sideline and tipping it back into the field of play. Cortez Allen, who made big-league strides in his development on this day, after sitting out a week, made a terrific play on the ball to intercept it and give the Steelers a chance to take the lead. I knew the play was good even while the ref was under the hood because I could see the skid mark of Allen's knee on the sidelines, in-bounds. Remember, one knee equals two feet.
* There's not much more sickening a sight to see than season-ending knee injuries. OK, I suppose you could lump a couple more in there, but I watched Heath Miller sitting on the bone-cracker's table on the sideline getting his knee checked. I figured this was all she wrote for Heath's 2012 season. Other guys know it too and when you see the Troy Polamalus and Casey Hamptons coming over to check on Heath and give him one of those pats on the back that says "Sorry you're done, man," then you pretty much know that it's not going to be Miller Time next week.