PITTSBURGH -- The weather couldn't have been better, and the mounting excitement of watching a good head-bangers ball in the trenches washed over me as I stood on the sidelines of Heinz Field.
* The Colts were in town, and I, like a lot of other people, wanted to see Andrew Luck, watch Willie Colon make his first start at guard, and see David DeCastro and company have a go after having a game under their belt.
* The red tie was a little short, but Hines Ward's grin was long as the greatest receiver in Steelers history took an ovation from the hometown crowd as he stood on the field pre-game. I got a chance to say hello, but Hines was a busy man and I could see in his eyes he wanted to swap that jacket for a helmet pronto. Something tells me that Hines will struggle in his first year of retirement as most of us do. It's weird when all of a sudden the old warhorse has no war to line-up in.
* Merrill Hoge was in attendance, nattily attired in shorts and a shirt. The cutoff shorts were a little too "uniformly frayed" for my liking and I asked Merrill if he paid extra to get them to look like that. He said no, but I think "He protesteth too much."
* Then we hit a lull. It got so boring for awhile in pre-game that I found myself sitting with the Kicking Canuck Shaun Suisham and an injured punter, Jeremy Kapinos. Dad always said you'd be known by the company you keep.
* Jerraud Powers' TKO of Chris Rainey was an impressive hit from my perspective. Rainey has no fear, and when he dials up the jets on inside runs, he goes and doesn't seem fazed by the big boys. It sure looked like Rainey, Amish beard and all, went limp for a second or two while the computer re-booted and put in a new hard drive. But Rainey returned to the game after taking it to the locker room for further testing. The kid likes to compete.
* Antonio Brown did some of the best broken-field running I've ever seen on that zig then zag 57-yard TD screen pass that saw Baron Batch run 50-something yards down the field to nail an "8-10 split" when he knocked down two Colts near the goal line. Impressive open field running by Antonio. Impressive extra effort by the Baron.
* Todd Haley doesn't just give lip service to the screen game. And it's no coincidence that the Steelers have scored two TDs on screen passes the last two games. He includes 10-12 minute screen periods in practice that I call "Fat guy cardio." A good screening offense requires effort, and Todd loves screens, and so do the hogs, aside from the extra hoofing in practice. It takes the steam out of those mutant pass rushers with their ears pinned back.
* Speaking of guys that got "donked," the Colts' WR Austin Collie walked off the field discombobulated after a big hit. Collie had two concussions last year and the Colts wanted to make sure he was OK. Collie started walking up the tunnel, and then when Mike Tomlin challenged the catch, Collie stood in the tunnel refusing to go into the locker room until the ref got out from under the hood and overruled the alleged reception.
* Great. My wife got me a digital recorder to use on the sidelines. You know, so I could record my thoughts and stuff while I'm on the sidelines. Obviously I need a little extra work on using the dad-gum thing. I just had a blow-by-blow account of me wrestling with a pocket full of Jolly Ranchers.
* I loved Ike Taylor undercutting the Reggie Wayne sideline route to pick-six. Ike even stumbled a bit but retained his balance while breaking for the ball. I interviewed Ike during the game and he said the first thing he looked for after snagging the ball was Andrew Luck and if he had an angle on Ike. I said, "Seriously, did you think Andrew could catch you?" Ike said "No, but I'd catch ____ if he did!"
* Chris Carter is drawing attention on the field. The Colts were double-teaming him on some pass-pro pickups. I like the see-do (see it, do it) of Carter. For a guy that was a hand-in-the-dirt pass rusher at Fresno State, he's done a good job of being a knuckle-dragger (stand-up guy) in the run game and warranting extra attention in the pass game.
* In the second quarter, the Steelers were flagged for too many men on the field. The normally low-key Dick LeBeau went vocal on the replacement refs after seeing that the refs allowed the Colts to substitute while the Colts were standing over the ball. Tomlin followed up with some scorching words for what I believe was the official overseer on site.
* Don't tell me these guys don't compete in the preseason. That was a lot of invested Colt money in Andrew Luck sliding in for a TD from a yard out on the goal line.
* I talked to Baron Batch at halftime. He took a wicked shot on his surgically repaired knee in the first half and said it was the final "test" he needed to know that he was good to go.
* So much for all the media hype of the Ike Taylor-Antonio Brown trilogy in camp fisticuffs. Here they are on the sidelines like best buddies in the second half hanging out together and laughing away.
* I really like my "Training Camp Phenom" Adrian Robinson. He's a natural pass rusher in the mold of James Harrison. Not near as strong as Deebo, nonetheless Robinson has an explosive dip with no rip as he turns the up-field corner. What makes it so hard for the waist-benders is that they either have to hold him because the punching surface is so low, or they can only pray Adrian runs out of "Grip-tion" as he bends the corner.