- So, who leads the NFL in passer rating after the first weekend? That's right, Charlie Batch. A competent backup quarterback is a real luxury in a league in which Jon Kitna found a starting job, and Steelers fans are living the good life.
- NFL players look really ugly with their faces blown up across the entire TV screen, NBC … except for Jason Taylor and Sayid from Lost, who is apparently playing strong safety for Pittsburgh these days; they're both total dreamboats. I suspect that the Pittsburgh players as a whole are equally as ugly as the Miami players, but they all look better with those Super Bowl rings.
- The run defense, that warm blanket that has sustained my optimism through two seasons, held Miami to a paltry 38 yards at 2.1 per carry. It bothers me a little that opposing runners only seem to do damage toward the goal line, though.
- Casey Hampton picked up where he left off last January, dominating the interior line. I still think that he's the team's best defensive player.
- The Steelers may not give up another long touchdown until Troy Polamalu retires, he's so good at running those plays down from behind or from across the field. He cleans up almost every mistake made by everybody else before it becomes too costly. The difference in recovery speed in the secondary from 2003 to now absolutely astounds.
- Ike Taylor did a real number on Chris Chambers, justifying his new paycheck no matter how many interceptions he dropped. Teams can have all the quick hitches and slipscreens they want; they'll never beat the Steelers that way if they can't also run or throw deep (and if they're not Tom Brady throwing against Willie Williams on a slick field in the playoffs). Miami certainly couldn't throw deep: Daunte Culpepper went 0 for 6 on balls thrown more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage, and not because of poor throws. Miami's only long-ish pass plays came on catch-and-runs after missed tackles.
- Yeah, they'd better stop missing those tackles, like, soon. Polamalu is probably always going to miss some tackles playing at that speed, but Taylor especially is much better wrapping up than he showed on Thursday night.
- Apparently, Al Michaels is among the first humans outside of Pittsburgh to rightly consider Taylor among the league's better cornerbacks.
- I'm really pleased with what I've seen out of Ryan Clark, and I'm as excited as the rest of Steeler Nation about the future at safety with Anthony Smith, but I'm getting a little nervous about the play of Tyrone Carter. We need to see more of last-year's-playoffs-Carter and less of his-entire-career-before-that-Carter.
- Willie Parker ran with impressive consistency. He lost yardage on just four of 29 runs, which went a long way toward keeping Batch in manageable third downs. He took what yards were available better than he did most of last season, and still looked like a threat to break a big one at the first missed tackle. He ran hard, didn't go down on first contact, and threw a few stiff-arms. Of course, he did all of those things in the first game against Tennessee last season, too; let's hope that he can keep it up a bit better this year.
- Verron Haynes saw a measly one carry all night. It's one thing that Duce Staley didn't log any carries despite dressing for the game, but Haynes looked poised to take on a larger role heading into the season. 29 carries is more than Parker (or any back) will be able to sustain for many games, and it seemed strange that neither of the other backs saw significant use in relief capacity.
- How little confidence must remain in Staley for the organization to have brought in Najeh Davenport, this generation's most accomplished closet-pooper? I liked not having to root for any players on the roster from "The U."
- That stat displayed during the game showing that Pittsburgh led the league with a 78% conversion rate on 3rd- and 4th-and-1 during Jerome Bettis's tenure said a lot. No available back—not Davenport, not T.J. Duckett, not LenDale White—was going to replace that particular productivity in whole. The team is going to have to learn to supplement with different types of offense, and fortunately they've already got four terrific short yardage receiving weapons in Parker, Haynes, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller.
- Miller never ran the forty in the months before the 2005 draft because of injury. He has since been timed in the eight-seven at "fast enough."
- Watching an excellent linebacker like Zach Thomas redefine futility attempting to chase down a lumbering tight end makes me think that H.B. Blades may have a shot at a productive NFL career after all.
- Batch ran the length of the field to celebrate with Miller after that long touchdown. If I had to run 87 yards to celebrate with my teammate, I'd probably just wait until we got back to the sideline. Of course, that's probably why I'm not a professional athlete. Or an amateur athlete. Or skinny.
- I think that we're all contractually obligated as humans to root for Wes Welker at least a little bit. How many skinny 5'9" white dudes can carve out a niche in today's NFL (excluding kickers, of course)? Jeremy Bloom hopes that the answer is "at least two."
- Santonio Holmes showed the kind of instinctive hands on his only catch that make a receiver a first-round selection.
- Has there been a more ill-fated idea in pro football since the "Randy Ratio" than Ricardo Colclough returning punts? He misjudged the first ball by five yards. In his defense, Reggie Bush and Dante Hall made similar errors while fielding punts in their teams' openers. Can we get Willie Reid out there, please?
- The special teams have got to get better. Only a short field and winning the field position battle kept Miami in the game at all.
- On Joey Porter's first sack, he beat a running back because Brett Keisel drew both a guard and the left tackle. On his second sack, he beat a tight end because Hampton drew two blockers on the inside. Yes, that's exactly how the 3-4 is supposed to work.
- Could NBC have setup Porter "getting his roll on" after sacking Culpepper any better than by playing that Madden '07 commercial with ‘Pepper and Chad Johnson? Any future re-airs of the game should feature that same commercial so as to establish the proper humorous context.
- So, apparently Batch's mom wasn't just trying out that hairdo last year … it's a permanent sort of thing. Heaven help us.
My thoughts, for what they're worth ...
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