My thoughts, for what they're worth

As he eagerly awaits Browns II, Ian Whetstone closes the door on the single greatest divisional thrashing he's ever witnessed.

- I have a confession to make: going in, this game had me nervous. Last year's results combined with a Denver-esque perfect storm pointing in Pittsburgh's favor—Baltimore's reliance on a running game versus one of the league's best run defenses, their injuries at corner, and their general suckitude on offense—had me waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess that shoe will have to wait until late December, at the earliest.

- Confession #2: those throwback uniforms are growing on me. I mean, they're still hideous, but they've now been party to the most enjoyable regular season division-foe thrashing in all my years of fandom.

- Trevor Pryce, please report to the principal's office. Your dignity was found alongside your jockstrap inside the locker of one Ben Roethlisberger. Vice Principal Jeff Reed would also like a word, apparently. That Roethlisberger kid can play a little. He may have a future in the league.

- Big Ben dropped a number of deep balls in perfect position for his receivers. He'll probably never be Carson Palmer in terms of deep ball accuracy, but he's looking better at it this year than I've ever seen him.

- On Roethlisberger's first touchdown throw to Nate Washington, six Baltimore defenders could be seen in the frame chasing him toward the sideline. That always bodes well for the prospect of a receiver slipping open downfield. The Ravens looked like a kickoff coverage team, going after him. Didn't do them any good.

- Speaking of kick coverage, Pittsburgh's still scares me. The worst instance gave the Ravens the short field leading directly to their only points.

- The other factor in Baltimore's lone score was Willis McGahee's wicked stiff-arm, which he also put on display warding off Clark Haggans as part of his ill-fated fumble recovery non-safety.

- Last season, Baltimore enjoyed an increased field position advantage on every exchange of punts between then-rookie Sam Koch and now-unemployed Chris Gardocki. Yeah, it probably didn't especially matter with Roethlisberger alternating touchdown passes with the defense forcing turnovers, but Daniel Sepulveda completely erased that advantage this time around, and then some. That may play a more prominent role in the December rematch.

- Ed Hochuli threw a flag on Steve McNair for intentional grounding with what looked like actual disdain. If an offensive player did with the ball what Hochuli did with the flag, he'd probably be called for taunting. Really, what's not to love about that? You'd think that a fitness buff like Hochuli might appreciate the extra arm workout provided by constantly flagging such an undisciplined team, though.

- Santonio Holmes is catching better than 71% of the passes thrown to him, despite averaging 17.9 yards per reception. That's just an incredibly impressive combination. His average of 12.8 yards per target is tops among the 50 most prolific aerial yard-getters, more than a full yard better than second-best Randy Moss at 11.7 YPT. Terrell Owens averages 9.7, Chad Johnson 9.6, and Steve Smith 7.3. Lowest on the list? Baltimore's Derrick Mason, at just 6.2 yards for every time he sees a pass.

- The negligible impact of Mason's six catches in this game offers an effective, if somewhat exaggerated, microcosm of the flimsiness of his league-leading 62 receptions. If a wideout can possibly post a 120-catch season to make all the girls say, "Meh," Mason surely finds himself on pace.

- Willie Parker didn't have the most memorable night, but opponents run successfully against Baltimore about as often as they do against Pittsburgh. They're too fast to the edges, and especially with Haloti Ngata, too stout up the middle. More important than his rushing numbers, though, Parker greatly improved upon his blitz pickup over last year's Ravens games.

- Wait, have I mentioned James Harrison yet?

- As of the season's midway point, I think my Pro Bowl votes at outside linebacker in the AFC are going to Keith Bulluck, Mike Vrabel, and Harrison, almost just on the strength of this one game. Bulluck, for my money, is the best linebacker in the league; Vrabel and Calamity James aren't of that caliber, but they're having better seasons than anybody else at the position.

- At the end of his interception return, Harrison tackled Derrick Mason. Just for kicks. It reads like a Chuck Norris joke, I know, but I couldn't make this stuff up.

- Harrison posted the most dominant individual defensive performance I can remember seeing from a Steeler, but a lot of others got in on the hit parade. Troy Polamalu, James Farrior, Clark Haggans, Anthony Smith, Travis Kirschke, and Lawrence Timmons all notched a sack or forced or recovered a fumble.

- That Bart Scott likes to run his mouth a little.

- Ed Reed is a great player, but—and I haven't had occasion to drop this phrase in a while—Hines Ward doesn't care who the safety is. Reed showed a lot of pride to keep playing so hard in such a fruitless effort after both Harrison and Ward lit his night up, and with some other Ravens apparently looking for the exits.

- There's no denying Reed's talent and impact, but this particular round of "who's the best safety" went to the guy with the sopping-wet mane. Polamalu posted four tackles on running plays that totaled seven yards gained, on one of which he forced a McGahee fumble. The longest play completed against him was an eight-yard pass on third-and-26.

- I like you, Tony Kornheiser, but let's get one thing straight: Polamalu is not "Bob Sanders with hair." Sanders, rather, is Troy Polamalu on an otherwise lesser defense.

- I won't try to sell it as the greatest broadcast football has to offer, but I find the Monday Night crew a hell of a lot more tolerable with Ron Jaworski in place of Joe Theismann.

- Seriously, for real, Heath Miller might be the greatest post-interception tackler in Steelers history. He might need a spot on the 76th Anniversary team, just for that. It's a lot easier to watch him put that particular skill to use with his team up by 31, too.

- Pittsburgh's offensive players love to celebrate scores with Brett Keisel. Roethlisberger does the jumping shoulder-bump thing with him after touchdowns, Holmes shared some words and a secret handshake after one of his touchdowns. It stuck in my mind, given the stark contrast with the team across the field and the obvious divide between offense and defense in that locker room.

- Not only did the Ravens get lit up in the first half, they got beaten up in the second half. For all the natural concern over Baltimore players taking cheap shots out of frustration in the backend of a blowout, they seemed to suffer the bulk of the in-game dings, bruises, and on-field visits from the training staff.

- Pittsburgh will have to travel to Baltimore in pursuit of a sweep against one division foe, but they've got another coming to town for a little medicine this week. The Browns surely look improved since the week one disaster in Cleveland, but Pittsburgh should win this one going away. I, for one, can't wait.

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