The Blitz

A win is a win is a win. Or so they say. You take them any way you can get them; but while all may be equal in the standings, it is certainly not so on the field. The Steelers have won two of their last three, sure. But are they now any more the team that was favored to win the AFC, and perhaps even the Superbowl, than they were following consecutive losses to the Patriots and Raiders?

:: I would think not…with an asterisk, of course.

:: One does not gloat after beating the Bengals. As talented as they are (snicker-snicker), this is a team -- heck, an organization, even -- that is often less than the sum of its parts. They are a laughing stock, as are their methods. What you do is beat them and move on.

:: If the Steelers proved anything, it is that they can put their ego on the shelf and whip an also-ran. That right there is newsworthy in and of itself. The Steelers have far too often fallen into the trap of believing they can just show up and win. That is what has plagued them this season, is it not?

:: The fact that the Steelers went out and handled their business on Sunday is perhaps the most glorious news of this 2-3 season. At least until they go out and whip on the Colts this Monday. If they are to get this thing rolling again, it has to start now. The Bus must rumble, the defense must wreak havoc, and Hines Ward needs to throw his body around like a weapon. This team needs to crank up the attitude. When they do, they are dangerous.

:: I think they will.

:: You've got to feel sorry for the Indianapolis Colts right now. Tony Dungy and Co. visit what is sure to be a rowdy and hostile Heinz Field to face a team that is finding itself. Despite the occasional poor decision, back-up Tommy Maddox has this offense ramped up. He has done a commendable job of making opposing defenses pay for blitzing him, and for selling out vs. the run. The defense has gotten back a little bit of its swagger, and the special teams -- while still a bit shaky -- has made its share of big plays. Should the Steelers jump out to an early lead, and they should against the Colts porous defense, things could get quite ugly for Peyton Manning .

:: Make no mistake, it is no coincidence that the offense has scored points by the truckload the last two weeks. That is the potential it has had all along. All it needed was someone who could throw the football to the right guy. No superstar, just a quarterback.

:: My apologies to Antwaan Randle El…and my thanks. That sweet 99-yard kickoff return was just what I needed to see from you, brother.

:: Please, please, please do not be fooled by the new ballhawking skills of SS Lethon Flowers. Both he and fellow safety Brent Alexander were burnt badly by Peter Warrick on Flowers' second interception, a woefully underthrown pass by Bengals QB Jon Kitna. At least Flowers was man enough to admit that Kitna threw some pretty bad passes, as if that would surprise anyone.

:: Add "weak" and "soft" to the list of less-than-flattering adjectives recently hurled at not-so-special teams captain John Fiala. Yes, Corey Dillon is an elite running back, and yes, he runs with power, but Fiala's lame attempt at run-stuffing on Dillon's TD run was absolutely pathetic. Fiala met Dillon on or about the 1-yard line and was crumpled and bullied into the end zone. Truly sad.

:: Kendrell Bell, please come back soon. You are sorely missed.

:: If there is one thing that I am somewhat concerned about with regards to Tommy Maddox, it's the incredibly poor timing he has when it comes to turnovers. The Steelers had just held the Bengals on a 4th-and-goal from the four, and Big Mo couldn't have been any more in Pittsburgh's corner…and there goes Tommy Gun getting picked off. Sure the pass glanced off of Hines Ward's hand(s), but it is a pass that Maddox did not have to throw. Ward would have had a first down had he caught Maddox's bullet, but, just beyond Hines, was Steelers TE Mark Bruener, as open as open could be on the 17-yard out. Of course, he would have picked up the first, too.

:: Second-year DE Rodney Bailey's development into a full-time 3-4 end would be a godsend. That at least would be one position the Steelers would not have to address come the 2003 draft. As it stands, QB and DB, be that corner or safety, almost have to be the first two positions addressed, followed closely by another DB, an OT, and perhaps even a RB.

:: After all…Jerome Bettis is done, right?

:: If he's not, then add rookie Verron Haynes to the list of promising young backs that didn't push old Jerome to the bench. Bettis looked every bit as nimble and devastating rumbling towards the end zone on Sunday as he did throughout 2001. That is, before he tore his groin. If, in week 7 of the NFL season, Jerome, the offensive line, and the rest of the Steelers offense, as well as their defensive and special teams counterparts are just now finding their groove, then this Steelers team may peak right around playoffs time. That would be a very good thing indeed.

-- Blitzburgh

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