View From The Sideline

The vibe wasn't right from the very beginning, says Craig Wolfley in his View From The Sideline report following the Jets' win over the Steelers.

Every game has its own feel. The pulse, the vibe, call it whatever you want. It starts with the music, and the music selection has become a huge part of the player's pre-game ritual.

* As I watched the pre-game warmups from the sideline, I came to two conclusions: Darrelle Revis is just that good, and the pre-game rap music all the players were moving to was wrong for this particular occasion. I'm thinking that the Steelers should have played a few songs from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" in honor of the non-attending knee-gate perp Sal Alosi and his punt return cronies.

* I saw Troy Polamalu standing by one of the turbine heaters. He had so much Gore-tex on I couldn't resist telling him he looked like one of the grounds crew guys.

* OK, so just when you think it's safe not to worry about the kicking game, it rears its ugly head and bites you right in the motivation department. All of that tremendous mojo pouring out of the stands and whammo! Mojination flat lines in the amount of time it takes Brad Smith to skedaddle 97-yards to put up six. Heinz Field went from rocking the 'burgh to library quiet in seconds.

* From the sidelines I could see the cover guys left of kicker, numbers two and three, take separate paths that led to a splitting of the cover team a mile wide. Arnaz Battle got caught moving inside, and Will Allen got kicked outside.

* Keyaron Fox showed no fear busting into a double team and spun off to almost make a great play. Fox had the penultimate 40-yard head butt, managed to keep his feet and his senses, and came within a whisker of shutting down the Brad Smith Experience. But what do you call almost making a play? Not making a play, ergo six points.

* Earlier in the week Mike Tomlin referenced Maurkice Pouncey's great desire to be the best center in the NFL. Coach Mike then went on to say that Maurkice could start by being the best center in Heinz Field Sunday afternoon. The reason? Jets center Nick Mangold.

In the first quarter Ladainian Tomlinson ran a 6-yard cutback and Casey Hampton got into position to swallow LT like a shark gulps a guppie. But the hard-charging Mangold got Casey to commit run stoppage sin No. 1: turning your shoulders. Hamp got his shoulders turned trying to fend off Mangold and Jets guard Matt Slauson acting in concert with Mangold got Casey's keester moving laterally. Hamp over ran the play and early on I could see that crowning Pouncey as the best center on the field was not a done deal.

* Second quarter action had Santonio Holmes catching a little button hook going into the shadow of the North end zone. ‘Tone got dropped for a short gain and seemed miffed over it. Holmes spiked the ball disgustedly and it just so happened to be at the feet of James Harrison. James stood for a moment, then turned to the official. I'm just guessing here, but it appeared James was reminding the officials that spiking the ball at the feet of another player should be viewed as taunting. Obviously the official didn't concur with James.

* By halftime one of the game officials had dropped, then picked up, his flag three times. I'd check that flag for silicone. If Rashard Mendenhall had put the ball on the ground three times by the half, I'm sure he'd be sitting by the turbine heaters for the second half. Maybe the NFL should do the same with a butterfingers ref. Each time an explanation was made to Coach Mike. I'll leave it at that.

* In the third quarter, Mendenhall followed Chris Kemoeatu on a power lead to the right side for a pedestrian 3-yard gain. But it was the "whackeration" factor that made this play special. "Big Juicy" crushed, and I do mean crushed, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace, who's a linebacker in a defensive end's body. Kemoeatu delivered a ballistic bash of monumental proportions and demonstrated the Chuck Noll truism of hitting with the "same foot, same shoulder" and the power that can be unleashed from that striking posture.

* Yes, I know Chris has some holes in his game. He needs to tighten up some areas, but just like the perfect nine-iron shot that rolls lazily into the cup which brings the weekend golfer back to the links, having a man with the ability to blotto another man is something you don't give up on.

* Same drive, same play, another horrific crash, different victim, better results. Just a few plays later, Kemoeatu pulls again and this time it's Jason Taylor sitting in the hole, ready to pounce on Rashard. Chris same foot, same shoulders Jason to a nice view of the Pittsburgh skyline. Rashard gains 21 yards. These were some outstanding hit(s) by Kemoeatu. He could play a role in the movie "Unstoppable." Yeah, the part of the train.

* Ryan Clark's hit on Braylon Edwards was the epitome of great free safety play of what is apparently a bygone era. Ryan, in my opinion, did not launch and most definitely turned his head so as not to lead with the helmet. When a defensive player someday gets carted off the field after a hit in which he turns his head to avoid helmet-to-helmet, what happens then?

* Holmes had a rather mundane return to Heinz Field. He was pretty much an underneath route runner, and never was able to yac-yard the Steelers' secondary. Booed when he took the field, booed when he bowed and left, there's no doubt that ‘Tone was feeling awkward and rather somewhat jilted. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I like Santonio. I had the opportunity to work with him on his radio show last year and I thought he was turning the corner as a young man before all the night club and twitter-stuff happened. It's a shame he didn't grasp the key to self-discipline that could've made him a Steelers superstar and legend. I hated seeing him in the Jets' tidy-whiteys. He should've been in black and gold. But that was in his hands.

* After a short first down gain in the fourth quarter, Holmes got up and did his usual first down pose. However, it then appeared to me that he started mugging, making a face and mocking Ike Taylor who was prone on the ground. After following the line of sight of Holmes to Taylor, I'm inclined to think it well could've been Tomlin to whom Santonio was being sarcastic. It wasn't professional, and it wasn't intended to endear himself to anyone. He might want a Mulligan on that one.

* One guy that I thought did an outstanding job was Trai Essex filling in for Jonathan Scott. On the 15-play drive to end the game, Trai was a plus 15 in my most humble opinion. Think about it. You're sitting all game long, freezing, and then the call goes out to jump in and play in the most important drive of the game. Trai handled it exceedingly well, and if he winds up starting against Carolina on Thursday night, well, I won't be surprised.

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