Just My Opinion ...

Jim Wexell has his notes column up and running (and causing trouble) following the Steelers' 43-23 win over the Ravens.

From the notebook of a sportswriter who really was concerned Sunday night for Joe Flacco:

* Not his health. I was concerned because he never looked comfortable at Heinz Field, even though his coach was confident it would happen and even though Mike Tomlin went out of his way at mid-week to say, "If they’re comfortable, I’m OK with that. I hope they are. They need to be."

* The Pittsburgh Steelers' defense really was a poor host through all of this. They acted like this was some kind of a fistfight out there, instead of worrying about the visitors' comfort level.

* And, wow, the Ravens sure seemed to shy away early. The Steelers' tenacity was relentless and neverending and the Ravens really didn't seem to be in the mood for it, and were thus reduced to dishing out cheap shots.

* LeGarrette Blount, who's become something of an enforcer on the Steelers offense, said he had been brought up to full speed on the hatred in this rivalry, because his teammates "beat it into your head all week."

* And after taking the cheap shot in the knee from Terrell Suggs, Blount better understands why. "Yeah, for sure," he said with a laugh.

* Blount was just one of many Steelers who called Suggs "a dirty player."

* "Dirty," Marcus Gilbert said. "He should be getting a FedEx in the mail. If he doesn't, I'll be very surprised and I'll be very disappointed. You don't play football like that, especially when the play's already over. You don't go at the guy's knees. We got the win, and hopefully he pays for it."

* Gilbert said before the game that it was "personal" for him to stop Elvis Dumervil this time. But Dumervil did get another sack.

* "He got a lucky one," Gilbert said. "Besides that it WAS personal. I'm just glad we were able to come in and get this 20-point win. We responded well. They beat up on us pretty bad the first game we played them, but this was a good response, especially by the defense. That's Steeler ball."

* That's what Joe Greene asked of the team in his pre-game speech to them, "Play Steeler ball."

* Martavis Bryant started and once again was a difference-maker with two touchdown catches. That's five in three professional games. "It's just special that I get to play," said Bryant, "and I thank God and I thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity."

* The Tomlin haters should look back through my summer collection for the stories in which Bryant said that he loved Tomlin's hard coaching.

* It was obvious to anyone watching that Tomlin was working him over pretty good, particularly in the spring. And right now that hard coaching is paying off because Bryant is the front-runner for the Joe Greene Achievement Award as the team's Rookie Of The Year.

* While we're doing that Joe Greene thing, I asked James Harrison if he knows whom he passed on the Steelers' all-time sacks list. "Joe Greene," he shot back quickly and accurately.

* So I asked James if he watched the montage of splattering hits by Greene that were put to Styx music on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. "Yes I did," Harrison said.

* And so I asked James how much he thought Mean Joe would've been fined if he played today. "Listen," Harrison said, "He wouldn't have had a paycheck for about two, three years the way they played back then."

* Just a refresher: When I say "While we're doing that blankety-blank thing ..." you respond with, "We're gonna do an old Bobby Blue Bland song.'" And then I say, "Actually, it's a T-Bone Walker song."

* That, of course, is banter from the greatest live recording in rock history, "Live From The Fillmore East." It's still Allman Brothers week, so please indulge me the next time I try.

* I may have missed the Allman's final concert last week. It's being hailed as the greatest rock concert of all time by the New York Daily News, among others. But I didn't miss the greatest two-game performance by any quarterback in football history, and I don't need verification from a New York paper to make that claim.

* Yes, I had minor criticisms of Ben Roethlisberger during stretches of the 3-3 start. And, no, the many rabid Ben defenders in town will never allow any of that to occur at any time, thank you very much. But if you look back at those stories (on the shelf next to the Martavis Bryant stories), you will see my effusive praise of Roethlisberger's leadership going back to the first day of spring practice. He not only busted his tail, he used great patience in working with these receivers. And it's paying off big time for the team right now.

* I remember watching Ben work out the nuances of red-zone play with Matt Spaeth, and thinking I would see this pay off at some point in the season because Spaeth, at 6-7, is a giant among what had been a pretty smurfy receiving corps. But I never could've imagined that it would be Brad Wing finding Spaeth in the end zone first.

* Of course, Roethlisbeger did hit the big man with the sixth and final touchdown pass Sunday night. And Roethlisberger said that one was is favorite because Spaeth "puts a lot of dirty work in, a lot of blocking."

* Roethlisberger's leadership is at a Super Bowl level right now, and we've all known that his on-the-field prowess has been there since he came into the league.

* Anyone else have a feeling?

* Hey, all summer I said this team has a chance to get there in the wide-open AFC. But I never imagined the 49ers and Seahawks would be this average as NFC Super Bowl favorites.

* Yeah, you had better get a feeling.

* Anyone take my advice in the summer about putting a couple of bucks down on Roethlisberger to win the MVP this year? I think in my tweet I had the odds at being 50 to 1. Probably a lot lower than that right now.

* Let's get back to Harrison for a moment. Twice -- in my brief time among the group interviewing him Sunday night -- he gave the credit to God (and probably one more time for that game ball peeking out of his locker). James said, "He's driving the bus and I'm just a vehicle that He's using."

* When someone told Harrison that the good folk of Twitter are clamoring for another year out of the 36-year-old, Harrison said, "Nah. The way my body feels after games, coming in Monday and working out and all that, it's getting too hard. The workouts are getting to be harder than the games. I can't see another year."

* So the natural follow-up, at least in my opinion, was to ask James what he would do if God got on Twitter and asked for another year. Harrison erupted with laughter. "Well, if God says it, I might have to come back."

* Help me get this bad feeling out of my head that the 43-23 score won't somehow come to symbolize Troy Polamalu's last game.

* I don't know anything that you don't about his injury. And he said he was fine (he always does). I just worry (too much) about omens and such.

* A gigantic gasp came out of every mouth -- Pittsburgh and Baltimore alike -- in the press box when Polamalu was hit from behind. He had missed a tackle but his hit knocked the back sideways into Stephon Tuitt, who pinballed the runner from the other side back on top of Polamalu.

* "You'll appreciate this story," Polamalu told me after the game. "My junior year in high school I got picked off first base. I played center field, so I go out to center field and my uncle was out there saying 'You beep beep beep. You stink, blah, blah, blah.' So I went to rob a home run. There was a chainlink fence with the little spikes on the top, and my face and ear got torn up and I was bleeding all over the place, and I heard this voice, 'That's what you get. You deserved that, blah, blah, blah.' So the funny thing is when I missed that tackle I kind of looked back and saw the guy spinning and he was still up and then all of the sudden he lands on me. The first voice that came to my mind was, 'That's what you get!'"

* However tough the love Troy got from his uncle, it has paid off. I just hope we get to watch Troy play down the home stretch here. I'm selfish like that.

* While we're doing that old-Steelers-defensive-vet thing -- [Yes! Much better!] -- I have to tell you about Brett Keisel. I walked up to him in the middle of an interview with some unknown kid, er, young man, and Keisel was on fire: "'... I'm too old, they're too old, LeBeau's too old, Harrison, what the hell are we doing bringing these guys back?' It's ridiculous! Those of us who've been around LeBeau and been in the locker room with him and know him -- even if you don't know him -- know what type of football mind he has. One of the best if not THE best of all-time. And for those people to say that stuff, it's absolutely ludicrous!"

* Brett had some kind of a head cold so he was speaking loudly, almost yelling at the poor kid -- er, young man -- but to me it was just beautiful music.

* I did tell Keisel, though, that I was going to rip LeBeau tomorrow. Keisel's beard got all uptight, even angry, but I smiled and explained that I was going to rip LeBeau because he was starting a guy named Cam Thomas at left defensive instead of a guy named Brett Keisel.

* "Well," Keisel said as his beard began to relax a bit, "We want to make it for 16 games. That's what's behind it."

* I still had two final questions for Keisel. First, I wanted to know if he knew the reason behind his friend Ben's flirtation with absolute greatness.

"Wex, I wish I had an answer, man."

I told him that column would be written this week.

* And my final question, and I'll quote myself precisely, was this: You've had three straight emotional wins against good teams but now you've got the stinky Jets coming up and everyone expects a letdown. How will you guys address it?

"We've just got to keep rolling," Keisel said, his beard still up and alert, no doubt on the lookout for complacency. "We can't change our attitude on a weekly basis, regardless of who we play. It's got to be the same mentality, the same attitude, when you step into work every day. That's why we've been successful. It's not something that we're all of the sudden just figuring things out. Guys are working at it. That's always, to me, been the foundation of our success."

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