- Nothing like an old-fashioned butt whooping to get a struggling team back on track, right? Kansas City is no powerhouse, but they're not total garbage, either … and to a 1-3 team with a struggling young quarterback, any massive blowout can only be a good thing. It doesn't get much more dominating than when one team's first-half possessions result in touchdown, punt, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, and the other team's possessions result in punt, punt, punt, punt, punt.
- DeShea Townsend allowed a third-down completion to Sammy Parker on KC's first drive. He then proceeded to cover, bat down, or tackle short of the sticks on the next five third-down plays in his vicinity. Of the Chiefs' seven punts, Townsend's play forced five of them. I'd say that the Steelers should keep him in that nickel role except that Bryant McFadden is making more rookie mistakes than he did when he actually was a rookie.
- It hurts to watch that shadow of the former Kendrell Bell now playing for the Chiefs.
- Despite having faced three defenses currently in the top ten in rushing yards allowed through his first five games, Willie Parker currently sits seventh in the league in yards per game and third in touchdown runs. He's on pace for 1388 yards and 16 touchdowns. Yeah, that contract extension is looking like a better move for the Steelers every day.
- The off-season's other big recipients of new contracts, Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor, also played great games. Keisel got decent penetration on a day when the pass rush wasn't getting a lot of pressure as a group, and Kansas City didn't complete a pass against Taylor in coverage until ten minutes to go in the third quarter, down by 31.
- Taylor also mopped up a couple of special teams gaffs, recovering the muffed punt by Santonio Holmes and tackling returner Jeff Webb after he broke through most of the coverage team on the very next kickoff. Taylor's skills are suited to kick coverage, and he seems young and fit enough to handle the extra playing time.
- It's looking more and more like the Steelers found their guy in Najeh Davenport to take some productive carries away from Parker, if he can stay healthy.
- Offensive and defensive domination really masked a troublesome special teams performance, including a fumble, a muff, a missed chip shot field goal, and mediocre kick coverage. Holmes did make a difference in the punt return game when he managed to hold onto the ball, though.
- Hey, maybe 40 straight field goals of fewer than 40 yards are all the universe will allow. Still, Jeff Reed needs to find his mojo again, and soon.
- Could the Pittsburgh linebackers have possibly had a better day in coverage? How many balls did they tip or bat down? Five? Six?
- That DE tandem in Kansas City has a chance to become the league's best if the team can find the cap space to keep them together and Jared Allen can learn the concept of a designated driver. Tamba Hali can play; he made tackles all over the field and forced both of Parker's fumbles. And Allen is the 4-3 equivalent of Aaron Smith, a DE who plays the run and the pass equally well. Oh, and at 6'6" he can apparently chase down a running back fifty yards downfield faster than Ty Law can.
- Of course, Nate Washington took out both of those guys in one fell swoop on the direct snap to Holmes. He motioned into the slot just before the snap and blocked Hali into Allen coming across in backside pursuit. Yes, one wide receiver blocked two defensive ends lined up on opposite sides. Hines Ward must have felt so proud.
- Ben Roethlisberger played a nearly perfect game. For that matter, he turned in the second perfect 158.3 passer rating of his career, as many as Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, and Tom Brady have had combined.
- Still, Roethlisberger didn't have to make very many difficult throws; his receivers were getting wide open and reeling in almost every catchable ball. But unlike recent games, he made great decisions, saw the open guys, threw accurate passes, and checked down when appropriate. That was the Roethlisberger we've been waiting to see, and the difference between last year's championship team and this year's 1-3 start.
- Ward saw five balls and made five catches. He converted three of three third downs, including a third-and-fifteen. He even smiled a little.
- Troy Polamalu. Yeah, I don't think any more need be written when a player dominates like that.
- Okay, okay … two-armed Polamalu tackled, covered, picked off, and showed his unparalleled closing speed against the run. You won't see many better plays than when he knifed through Will Shields and Kevin Sampson to tackle Larry Johnson for a loss on third-and-one.
- Roethlisberger, Ward, and Polamalu look like themselves again. Rest of the NFL, watch out: the Steelers are back in business.
- So, Joey Porter claims to have at one point in the off-season considered playing this season without "being a leader" on the sideline or in the locker room in tacit protest of a contract that he feels he has outperformed. Yeah, that plan wasn't going to last longer than ten minutes had it ever gone into effect; Porter couldn't help himself from whooping it up on the sideline even up by 31 with the backups in. He only knows one way to be a teammate, and leaving the emotional leadership to others isn't it.
- Pittsburgh's four first-half touchdown drives included a 50-yard catch-and-run by Holmes, a 47-yard touchdown pass to Washington, a 25-yard run by Parker, a 28-yard third-down catch by Ward, and a 48-yard run by Davenport. Those five plays accounted for 43% of Pittsburgh's total yardage on the day.
- Arnold Harrison and Chris Kemoeatu did their jobs. It's hard to tell how well they really performed individually with the team as a whole clicking so well around them, but at the very least they showed themselves capable of running with the big boys. Kemoeatu in particular showed some real promise in the running game, and Harrison did a nice job stringing out runs to his side.
- Big thanks to Shawn for procuring the tickets to the game, to Monica for coordinating the local festivities, to Nate and the rest of the guys for their company, to Jack for not showing up so that I got to see Tom creep out a girl in a tiny pizza shop at one in the morning, and especially to Chris for so generously opening up his tailgate to us freeloaders and providing me with all the grape soda I could drink. Steelers fans really are the greatest bunch of sports fanatics on the planet.
My thoughts, for what they're worth ...
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