My thoughts, for what they're worth

A deliriously happy Ian Whetstone recounts Steelers-Seahawks, then fades off into the bye week.

- Hello, doctor? I've got a fever, and the only prescription is… domination. Or, more cowbell, I mean. Actually, both, please.

- It's funny in retrospect, but this game had me good and nervous for a quarter-and-a-half. The Steelers weren't moving the ball without their top two receivers, and the defense seemed sure to feel the loss of its two best players sooner or later. Jeff Reed's opening kickoff didn't do my heart any favors. That's just how Skippy rolls, I guess.

- Matt Hasselbeck plays some really good quarterback. That the Steelers so thoroughly frustrated him is a real testament to Dick LeBeau's trust in his players to execute such a counter-intuitive gameplan. How do you hide a missing Pro Bowl nose tackle and shortages in the secondary? Surely, you blitz a lot from odd angles to clog the line with many bodies in place of Casey Hampton's girth, and pressure the passer into throwing before the depleted secondary loses coverage. "Nay," says LeBeau; "we shall rush three and cover the receivers for whole minutes, if necessary."

- I don't know if Lebeau showed more brilliance for calling it, or the players more talent for executing. I don't ever remember seeing a quarterback sit so often in the pocket with four, five, six seconds to throw, without a single receiver breaking loose. On the rare occasions when his targets did get open, Hasselbeck missed them. Poor play by him? Or frustrating defensive scheming? Who cares, really. Probably both.

- Ben Roethlisberger also looked visibly frustrated in the early going, but he did what great quarterbacks do when the offense isn't moving, and started making things happen. A few decent completions, a few unlikely third-down conversions after less likely escape acts from a pretty heavy Seattle pass rush, and all of a sudden Willie Parker found room to work his own brand of magic. Roethlisberger is the engine that makes Pittsburgh's offense work, no matter what the pundits say.

- That's evident enough when the passing game can produce without its two primary targets, which is yet another benefit of good quarterbacking. On the other hand, that's why you pay Cedrick Wilson $1.9 million to be a fourth receiver. Sometimes, you're going to need him.

- This game featured a momentous occasion: Daniel Sepulveda's first tackle, just as I'd always dreamed it'd be …

- Tyrone Carter saw extensive playing time due to Troy Polamalu's injury and Pittsburgh's rush-few-drop-many defensive approach, and he made the most of it, notching a team-high in solo tackles and half a sack on the day. His tackles didn't come from being beaten in coverage, either.

- Oh, and neither did Ike Taylor's. Taylor may not be very widely recognized around the league for as good a football player as he is, but I've got to figure that Seahawk fans know it better than anyone but Steeler fans and Chad Johnson. He's probably never going to grow any hands, but with his recovery speed and athleticism, he'll knock away quite a number of would-be completions before his career winds down. How he ever got benched for any other corner on the roster, I'll never understand.

- We also saw what an advantage it can be for corners to play with consistent deep help. Pittsburgh stuffed the run all day with seven in the box, so the corners got aggressive jumping the underneath routes with safety help over the top. That proved to be possible in no small part because Aaron Smith established legal residency in Seattle's backfield.

- There's something almost polite about the way Ryan Clark lays out a receiver with a big hit. He knocks them silly, but always leads with his shoulder, always turns his helmet away, and never looks quite so bloodthirsty as the headhunters around the league.

- Clark also represents one-third of Pittsburgh's starters who aren't homegrown talent. Seattle offers a stark contrast to that approach to roster building, with eight of 22 starters having come from other teams via free agency, including almost half of the starting defense. I'm not saying that one approach is any better than the other… no, wait, that's exactly what I'm saying. Pittsburgh's approach is better.

- I doubt that many would have hesitated to trade Najeh Davenport for San Diego's Michael Turner in the off-season, but despite Turner's 10 carries for 147 yards and a score against Denver, Davenport has one more carry for eight more yards and two more touchdowns on the year. Dump Truck reminds me of Jamal Lewis, in that while he's not going to punch through the line without a hole, his size makes him a load to bring down once he breaks into the second level.

- Was that a glimpse of the short-area acceleration we've longed to see from Willie Reid? I think it was. Now, if only he can transfer that to punt returns. Allen Rossum has performed solidly overall, but he's doing much more damage returning kicks than punts.

- Thank you, James Farrior, for finding your way onto a 3-4 base defense, and thank you, Steelers, for making the love connection way back in free agency, 2002. He's such an outstanding 3-4 inside 'backer, in no small measure because he runs the blitzes so effectively. With four sacks in just five games, he's already matched his total for all of last year, which was itself a career high. I think he may just set a new benchmark for himself this season.

- Julian Peterson can play. He's kind of a front seven mirror of Polamalu, a linebacker/pass-rusher hybrid who's athletic enough to dabble in the secondary on occasion. And while this game didn't really show it, Lofa Tatupu stands among the young studs at a position that really doesn't boast very many around the league.

- I have respect for Mike Holmgren as a coach. It'd be overstating things to call me a fan, but I respect what he has accomplished, and generally appreciate his approach to the game. But, damnation, I'd have a hard time defending much any decision he made on Sunday. Does he have a running bet with Herm Edwards that he can actually manage the clock more horrifically at the end of each half?

- A full 60% of Seattle's net passing yardage—and 38% of their net total yardage, including penalties—came on one drive at the end of the first half that ended in no points.

- Quarterback scrambles account for a full quarter of the 363 yards that Pittsburgh's defense has allowed on the ground through five games. Non-quarterbacks are averaging a meager 3.25 yards per carry against the Steelers. I don't know whether I point that out to indicate how stingy the Steelers really are against running backs, that they should be wary if they come up against a really mobile passer, or that Hasselbeck should have tried to make some first downs with his feet over the weekend.

- By my count, three different Seahawks notched a false start. There's your twelfth man, Seattle. Ours travels … does yours?

- Okay, I think I'm generally about as optimistic a fan as any semi-reasonable person can be, but not for a minute did I expect to witness such utter domination playing with a short deck against a pretty decent opponent. Not since the back-to-back shellackings of Philly and New England in 2004 have I been taken so by surprise, or so deliriously happy as a consequence. I don't really know how to conclude that thought, either. I guess I'll just … fade off into the bye week.

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