See, Steelers can still play physically

Mike Prisuta points out that the helmet-to-helmet blows are unnecessary and Ben Roethlisberger's pretty good.

MIAMI -- So it turns out you can play rock-'em, sock-'em football without all the helmet-to-helmet garbage after all.

Who knew?

Emmanuel Sanders got rocked by Lex Hilliard and fumbled; nothing happening there but a football play.

Sanders got some revenge in the second quarter when he delivered one of those hits that makes a crowd go "ooooohhhhh" while covering a kickoff. Again, hard, fast and clean.

Bryant McFadden was able to separate Brian Hartline from the ball with a pop that will require no further review.

Even James Harrison was able to blast Ronnie Brown within the rules.

Does this mean we can forget for the time being all of the "they're ruining the game" outrage and stop quoting Jack Lambert?

Harrison said he changed his game based on the new NFL enforcement policies on just one play.

"Other than one play I was fine," Harrison said. "Ronnie (Brown) was coming across the middle and I had a chance to hit him and it looked like he was maybe going to slide or fall down and I didn't (hit him) and (Larry) Foote tackled him. Luckily, he went down.

"I would have ended up hitting him high because he ended up been sliding down. Even though I would have been aiming low I would have ended up hitting him helmet to helmet."

Harrison maintained his innocence regarding the hit on Mohamed Massaquoi that got him fined and had Harrison contemplating retirement, insisting the play happened the way it did because Massaquoi crouched and changed his angle at the last second.

"I'm a professional athlete but I can't do magic," Harrison said.

* Ben Roethlisberger was a little bummed, and justifiably so.

"I still left quite a few things out there," he said following a win that almost defied description. "I'm still kind of disappointed in myself."

This from a guy who had just thrown for 302 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, one who had emerged with a passer rating of 132.0.

But the thing is he had a point. Roethlisberger made some plays but he also let a few get away, a few beyond his two fumbles.

The numbers were once again glittering, as they had been against Cleveland. Imagine what they'll look like when he locks in and displays the type of command and accuracy we should demand from him, the kind he demands from himself?

* Identifying a team as distracted is subjective at best, but whether they were distracted or not the Steelers certainly played the part of such a team in the first quarter.

Their performance in the first 15 minutes included:

-- Sanders' fumble on the opening kickoff.

-- A Roethlisberger fumble as he was being sacked.

-- A punt return on which Antwaan Randle El lost 1 yard and Matt Spaeth was called for holding.

-- Two holding penalties against Doug Legursky on the same drive, one that remarkably still covered 86 yards and produced a field goal.

-- And a dropped pass by Mike Wallace.

"We tripped over ourselves coming out of the locker room," coach Mike Tomlin said.

Hope nobody threatens to retire this week.

* Sanders' day got off to the worst possible start, but the rookie shook it off and contributed to the cause following his first-play fumble.

Sanders caught the only pass Roethlisberger threw at him (an 18-yard gain that turned a third-and-11 into a first down) and finished with 144 kickoff return yards.

A total of 48 of those came on the kickoff after Miami had taken a 22-20 lead and set the Steelers up at the Dolphins' 48-yard line for what became the game-winning drive.

"I need to have better ball-security in practice," Sanders said of his fumble. "That's where it starts."

As for his ability to put the gaffe behind him quickly, "That's football, one snap and clear," Sanders said. "That's what it's about."


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