The Blitz

Kendrell Bell missed many a tackle Monday night, but there is no denying his impact. Emotionally, this was a different team, and certainly credit for that does not go solely to Bell alone. It was obvious that Bell was a target; the Colts looked to exploit him repeatedly, isolating him in coverage on Edgerrin James time and again, with mixed results. But it was just as obvious that Bell was what this defense hasn't been all along -- relentless.

:: For every play that Bell got burned, there he was following it up with his best impression of a heat-seeking missile. Early in the second quarter, James burned Bell badly to the sideline, and rather than allow the easy completion and possibly a big gain, Kendrell instead tackled him, drawing a yellow hankie for pass interference. Bad play, no argument there. However, on the ensuing first down, Bell flashed into the backfield and tripped up James, who was then finished off by DE Aaron Smith. Good play, absolutely.

:: Want more?

:: On second down, Bell looped around DE Kimo von Oelhoffen, and launched himself into Colts QB Peyton Manning as Manning was releasing a pass intended for WR Qadry Ismail in the endzone. The pass fell incomplete, bringing up a 3 rd-&-9 and, shortly thereafter, a missed FG by K Mike Vanderjagt.

:: Ok, here's another: On the Colts' second drive of the second half, trailing 21-10, Manning again picked on Bell, dropping a pass neatly over his head to James as he sprinted up the hashmarks. Brent Alexander made the tackle at the Steelers 33 after a 23-yard gain. Bell rose up on the next play, forcibly stuffing James for a 1-yard loss. On second down, Manning was pilfered by safety Mike Logan, and Big Mo swung back to Pittsburgh.

:: Now, I am not saying that Bell had a great game, though he did have five tackles and several QB pressures. But, despite either still being limited by his twice-injured ankle or simply needing to get his timing down after the significant layoff -- or perhaps a bit of both -- Kenny Contact was certainly disruptive.

:: As expected, the Steelers jumped on top early and things got ugly for Junior Manning. The Colts are not a great team, and barely a good team. They are the Browns, or maybe a notch better. Their 4-1 record was an aberration, and so the Steelers 28-10 drubbing is hardly a quality win. But it is a win, and a win is a win is a win. Or so they say. What's my point? Well, the Steelers are beating the teams they should, how they should. They are not playing great football, but you don't want that in mid-October, you want that in mid-December, or better still, mid-January.

:: Are the Steelers a legit Superbowl contender? Absolutely. Heck, isn't half the NFL at this point?

:: I mean, let's look at the AFC. Six teams, including our Steelers, have three losses. Just five teams have fewer than three: the Chargers with one, and the Dolphins, Broncos, Raiders, and Colts with two apiece. That's eleven teams that could easily flip-flop from top to bottom over the next few weeks. The Steelers will likely win the AFC North, with the worst-case scenario having them as host to a wildcard game. Once the playoffs start, its anyone's game…even the Steelers.

:: As Dirtwinston alluded to in his post-game article, perhaps Logan's outstanding play Monday night warrants further consideration. Starting FS Brent Alexander has been a disappointment this season, and his two interceptions -- much like those of Lee Flowers vs. the Bengals last week -- does little to change that. Logan is a far-superior athlete, and may have even gotten a glove on the lightning-fast Marcus Pollard.

:: Here's something to chew on: Might the 2002 Steelers become the 2001 Patriots by season's end? Might they turn a losing record in September, a near-controversy at QB, and a second-half winning streak into a trip to San Diego? Might the once cancerous special teams become -- gulp -- a strength?

:: And how about San Diego? How great would it be to roll into SD in late-January and crush a 15-1 Chargers team in their own stadium, then go back to the hotel and book those same rooms for an extra week? How great would it be to see Casey Hampton seal the deal with a sack of Drew Brees on the final play?

:: Maybe then someone would truly appreciate the big guy.

-- Blitzburgh

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