Best of The Bus

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> "It's hard to think of Jerome Bettis as a backup." - Ken Whisenhunt, Steelers offensive coordinator following the Steelers' 20-7 victory Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Truer words may never have been spoken. Many in the media have taken heat over the past couple of years for saying that Steelers running back Jerome Bettis looks like he's in great shape.

But you know what? That's not going to stop me from saying it: Jerome Bettis looks like he's in the best shape I've ever seen him in. I'm not talking about Bettis from a weight standpoint. I'm talking about Bettis the running back.

I've personally seen Bettis rush for more than 100 yards 49 times during his illustrious career. But not one of those efforts were more impressive than the 117 yards he put up on 27 carries Sunday against a supposedly dominant Ravens' defense with a whole lot to play for.

There were spin moves, quick cuts and power bursts that left defenders clutching on to a whole lot more than they bargained for.

Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis was credited with 13 tackles Sunday - at least 10 of which came in the second half - but not one of them was meaningful. In fact, Ray-Ray tackled Bettis eight times Sunday, but four of them came on the Steelers' final drive, when they were running out the clock. On those eight tackles on which Bettis and Ray-Ray met face to face, Bettis gained 42 yards, including one play in the third quarter on which Bettis knocked Ray-Ray out of his shoes.

Of course I'll give Ray-Ray his due, at least he was still tackling Bettis at the end. Others on that vaunted defense were ducking and running from The Bus. Ray-Ray kept on sticking his head in there despite the fact Steelers' fullback Dan Kreider hit him so often Lewis had No. 35 tattooed on his chest.

When the Steelers open the playoffs in three weeks - do you think you can survive that wait - Bettis has to be the team's starter. Sure, they're going to use both he and Duce Staley. But six 100-yard games in six starts is outstanding. And Bettis has done it against all comers.
  • All of the Plaxico Burress supporters - and I've never said I'm not one, I'm just not sure they'll be able to afford him - I'm sure were jumping off of their couches when the first pass he caught upon his return to the lineup was a 36-yard touchdown from Ben Roethlisberger.

    But the pattern Burress ran was the same exact one Atwaan Randle El scored a touchdown on the previous week against the Giants.

    Roethlisberger's throw, by the way, was perfect.

  • Was Terrell Suggs' hit that knocked Roethlisberger from the game cheap? I didn't think so.

    It's amazing, though, that with all of the different cameras in the stadium, CBS couldn't find a replay that clearly showed Suggs driving Roethlisberger to the ground.

    Nice work fellas.

  • I'm not so sure that James Harrison shouldn't be starting over Clark Haggans once he returns. That was about as disruptive as I've seen a Steelers outside linebacker be in quite some time.

    Harrison, who was cut by the Ravens during the offseason, said he had a little extra hop in his jump because of that. He also took offense at Suggs saying the Ravens were the Steelers' "Kryptonite."

    "They were doing a lot of yapping over there," said Harrison. "They were talking about Kryptonite, but their memories must be pretty short. Up until now, we had won six of the past eight games or something like that. They want to talk about Kryptonite? That can't be any strong Kryptonite."

    Actually, the Steelers have won four of the past six against the Ravens, but I wasn't about to argue with Harrison.

  • I guess all of the hip national media guys who were picking the Ravens to beat the Steelers Sunday forgot that Baltimore had lost three of its past four games. Oops, make that four out of five.

  • Was the Steelers' offense any less impressive against Baltimore's defense than Indianapolis' was the week before? Both teams scored 20 points and both teams were kneeling out the clock deep in Ravens' territory late in the game.

    The difference? The Steelers controlled Baltimore a lot more than Indianapolis did. Had the Ravens ran Jamal Lewis more against Indianapolis, they may have beaten the Colts.

    That wasn't the case Sunday.

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