The pre-game warm-ups had a real sizzle to them as both teams looked each other over. That's when I noticed the Baltimore Ravens were stretching 10 yards further away from the Pittsburgh Steelers than other teams. I suppose that was to prevent any smack down verbal battles. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Steelers got to intimidating the Ravens. And here's what else I saw:
Right before kickoff, Russ Grimm walked up and said a few words to Willie Colon. He punctuated his message with a punch to Willie's chest and a smile.
Let me say right now I like this kid. No, I don't have an opinion based on one start, and to boot, a start against the best defense in the league. But he's tough, smart, and very aggressive.
What jumps out now is what jumped out back in the preseason. He's a pretty good pass blocker, but run-block wise he's got some work to do.
Colon straight blocks well initially, but doesn't roll the hips and keep his feet moving at the same time. He down blocks well at the point of attack, but loses leverage too easily for someone vertically challenged. On double teams, he has a good get-off, but then isn't as quick to react on the second-level guys as he will be with a lot more reps. Second-level stuff is all about recognition and reps, with a healthy dose of instinct.
Willie can get the reach block on a guy, but needs to work on getting his hands on the inside in a better push-pull position to unbalance and slam his opponent, and yes, bring his feet along at the same time.
Backside cutoff was a problem for him, because he doesn't get his head across the inside knee of the guy he's cutting off and drive through the knee. Again, that's got to do with aiming point and revving up the feet.
Pass pro-wise, he's got a good kick-step to a punch. In the games the Ravens ran at him, he seemed to know his angles and where his help was coming from. Area blocking wasn't a problem. He was alert enough to pick up the "drag" rusher, someone that came delayed from a position from off the line of scrimmage. He got beat a couple times by Trevor Pryce, but Trevor has been beating a lot of guys for a long time. Pryce has an uppercut that Rocky Balboa would fear. I think it was a decent outing for Willie. He got better as the game went along.
I've always taken it as a bad omen of things to come when you have a blown play on offense on the first snap from scrimmage. Normally the first few plays are given at the player's pre-game meeting right after the pre-game meal. In other words, there's a lot of time to think about it. Maybe too much.
In the second quarter, Adalius Thomas lined up at safety on a 3rd and throwing situation. Then he rushed from off and Heath Miller, lined up in the backfield, tried to pick up the 270-pounder. It brought to mind that old '50s footage of the circus strongman taking a cannonball to the gullet. Ouch.
Joey Porter can't lose it like that. Jamal Lewis started it the play before, but everybody and their brother knew Joey was going to retaliate the next play. Then Joey went to the sideline all honked off and Keith Butler tried to talk to him, but he blew off Keith. Potsie Farrior tried too, but got the same result. Joey knows better.
Ben just looked out of sorts all game. Maybe he should have consulted one of those bio-rhythm charts. I think he might have had one of those triple critical low days. Of course, getting sacked 14 times in two games will give you that triple critical low too.
Willie Parker's fumble was going to get reversed. I was so sure I went on the air and said so. Thirty seconds later, a photographer on the sideline showed me a shot that had the ball clearly coming out with Willie's knee two inches from the turf. The Steelers weren't the only ones not bringing their "A" game on Sunday