Even with his little resurgence, Bettis still only has three 100-yard games in the past two seasons. Sunday was his first 30-carry game since the 2001 season.
And it took him 32 carries to get his 115 yards against a Chargers defense that wanted nothing to do with playing football Sunday. Bettis hasn't exactly faced the Purple People Eaters in the past three weeks.
Bettis has had a great career in Pittsburgh and is one of the best of all-time to play his position. But his time has passed.
A good young back would have torn that Chargers defense up for about 200 yards Sunday.
Take a look around the league. Look at all of the good, young backs out there. Wouldn't it be nice to start building around one this offseason? Think about how dangerous the Steelers offense would be if they had a LaDainian Tomlinson or a Jamal Lewis running out of their backfield. Think Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress would see single coverage full-time?
Bettis just doesn't command that kind of respect any more.
- The Chargers singled up Burress on the outside early in the game
and paid big-time for it as he caught two touchdown passes. They
doubled him later in the game and Ward had his way with them,
including a 20-yard TD catch in the third quarter when he was singled
up with Sammy Davis and Burress was doubled.
- The Steelers realized Bettis and Zereoue probably wouldn't
command the greatest respect from defenses all season long. That's
why they brought in Jay Riemersma to occupy the safety in the middle
of the field.
That sure worked out well.
- Troy Polamalu admitted after the game his confidence was lacking
early in the year.
He said he didn't start playing well until he just started having fun out there again.
Too bad it took him half a season to figure that out, but Polamalu is going to be a huge factor in 2004. The NFL record for sacks by a defensive back in a single season is 6.5. Polamalu will challenge that in his career.
- Yes, that was Lee Mays returning kickoffs with Ike Taylor Sunday.
Mays is better suited for kickoff returns than ARE.
The idea on kickoffs is to get up field as quickly as possible, something Mays did well last season.
- Too bad the Steelers allowed rookie tight end Antonio Gates to be
plucked basically out of their backyard by the Chargers.
Gates, a college basketball star at Kent State, was an undrafted rookie free agent. He's going to be a player. Wouldn't he look good going down the middle of the field for the Steelers?
- If I'm the Steelers, I'm looking at the college basketball circles for
those undersized college power forwards who are good around the
hoop, have great hands, but are too small to make it in the NBA.
Tony Gonzalez, Gates and Marcus Pollard are guys who have made
Chevy Troutman anyone?
- Randle El has now completed 11-of-12 passes in his brief NFL
career. He's also the same height as "America's Midget" Doug Flutie.
Just throwing that out there.
- The Steelers game plan of blitzing to make Tomlinson pick up the
blitzer and stay in the backfield was a stroke of genius by Tim Lewis.
Tomlinson had six receptions for eight yards. That's outstanding on a
player of his caliber.
- Tomlinson could really pick up the blitz though. On Polamalu's sack
and forced fumble, Tomlinson drove Polamalu 10 yards up the field
before Polamalu hustled back into the play.
Another time, Tomlinson completely turned a blitzing Joey Porter around.
- On a play in the second quarter, Porter tackled Tomlinson in the flats
on a pass and the ball came loose.
Instead of picking the ball up, Porter kicked the dirt beside it. At least Mike Logan had the good sense to pick it up, even though it was not ruled a fumble.