Watching Big Ben stand in the end zone and face a rush that was sure to end badly for him, I can't say enough about his coolness under fire. He waited until Santonio Holmes cleared the safeties in the middle, all the while having a good view of the ground'n pound about to happen. Ben steps right up into the face of the rush and delivers a strike to Holmes for 83 yards. That's having some inner mustard folks.
The Rams' offensive line has undergone 18 different line-up changes. Britney Spears doesn't do that in a concert. If Joan Rivers had as many facelifts as the Rams offensive line, her ears would touch in the back of her head.
Steven Jackson is only held down by that offensive line. He is the most explosive power runner in the game. As the Turk in the booth noted, "He runs violently."
Proof of that fact came early on in the first half. Jackson took a hand-off and cut back across the field. Lining Jackson up in his gun sights was the Steelers rookie linebacker Lamar Woodley. Woodley tried to "put the wood to Jackson," but all he got was air and a close up view of Jackson's hand which locked out on his grill. Imagine the strength of a stiff-arm that can stop a prone 260-plus pound human missile in mid-air.
Earlier on, Jackson took a hand-off and came face to face with Larry Foote, who just fired on a scrape right into the hole Jackson is trying to hit. Foote had all of Jackson, and then none of Jackson as Steven spun on a dime and turned a five-yard loss into a gain. Ouch.
Rams defensive coordinator and tough guy Jim Haslett is making the most of limited resources. Early on, whenever Bruce Arians went empty set, Haslett brought the house trying to overwhelm the offensive line with numbers. And he was getting home. What bothered me more than anything else was that it wasn't the scheme as much as some people were just getting whipped.
Brett Favre wasn't kidding when he said this was the most complicated defense that he'd ever seen. Just in the first quarter alone, I saw a 3-4 base, then with a walk-off linebacker, a 4-3 over, a true bear alignment, and five big ones. Yikes! I was hoping the boys had done their homework.
Jackson galloped for 36-yards on a drive that put St. Louis up 14-10. Steelers' linebackers coach Keith Butler came down the bench yelling, "Tackle, guys, tackle!" And he looked pretty heated.
Late in the second quarter, after Ben had been sacked, O-line coach Larry Zeirlein and running backs coach Kirby Wilson were checking pictures of blitzes on the bench with Sean Mahan. When that happens, you know there's confusion between the line and backs over pick-ups.
Early on I thought Najeh Davenport looked like he was pre-determining his cuts. In the second half, he looked more comfortable and was "seeing the hole," rather than making up his mind before he took the hand-off.
Oh, baby, I love the JUMBO goal-line grouping that brought Chris Kemoeatu in as a fullback. The only thing, for Christmas, the Steelers should give him a Tom Tom Go GPS directional device to strap into his helmet. Basic rule of thumb: Never pass anybody up to get somebody else. Chris did that on the first shot at a Najeh touchdown run, and the Rams stuffed the play.
The good part about Chris is that when he hits somebody, they go down. That's just what happened when he ran by a Ram and drilled linebacker Chris Draft. Draft crumpled like a marionette puppet that just had its strings cut.
DeShea Townsend was unbelievable in the second half and especially so in the fourth quarter. This guy is the most underrated member of the Steelers defense. Some of his coverage assignments left him one on one with little to no help over the top. The result? Four passes batted down. The one that he missed, ‘Shea had great position, but pure bad luck in missing the touchdown strike from Bulger to Drew Bennett. He was outstanding.
Losing Willie Parker early on could have been a disaster, but Davenport was a terrific replacement. Ol' Najeh had a long night. It was a little warm in the dome, and besides rumbling for 123 yards, he scored a running touchdown, a receiving one, and had a starring role in gadgetration on the punt team. When Davenport ker-plunked his way onto the bench in the fourth quarter, just a ways down from me, I could see that he was one tired cat.
The star of the night? That's easy, Najeh, even though Ben chalked up another perfect game. Having said that, I'm enjoying my front-row view of Roethlisberger's development. He just keeps getting better.
Above all, I hope everybody has a great Christmas and they remember the "Reason for the Season." And the reason I'm talking about has nothing to do with football. Merry Christmas everybody!