My thoughts, for what they're worth:

The Pittsburgh Steelers thoroughly dominated the Houston Texans in week one action. Ian Whetstone offers his thoughts, for what they're worth:

- Wasn't there a time not so long ago when the Steelers were regarded as slow starters, and could lose to even mediocre opponents on opening day? That certainly isn't the case anymore, with wins in the last six season openers, and most of those having been blowouts.

- I'm not a big fan of the type of short passing attack that it seems Bruce Arians wants to operate this year. It's not that I don't understand why he might choose such an approach with an offensive line that struggled a year ago in pass protection, or even that I don't think that such an attack can be very effective; I just don't find it as enjoyable to watch as a downfield, play-action game. But when Ben Roethlisberger misses on just one throw all day—and that one, a throwaway—I guess I can live with it.

- One of the keys to a successful short passing attack is yards after the catch, and Roethlisberger and his targets all held up their ends of that bargain. More than half of the team's yardage through the air came after the catch, and every single pass-catcher tallied significant YAC as part of his total.

- The passing offense performed efficiently even without much quantifiable contribution from its most explosive component, Santonio Holmes. Imagine what they might do when last season's league leader in yards per catch starts reeling in deep balls again.

- Teams keep thinking that a linebacker can cover Hines Ward out of the slot, no matter how many times he makes them pay for it.

- It's among the more thoroughly established clichés in football that Hines Ward is a great blocking receiver, but I'm going to try to find something new to say about it, because at times he's taking it to another level entirely. He doesn't just seal the edge, he collapses it inward and forces inside pursuers to have to run around the ensuing traffic jam. In the first quarter, Ward teamed with Heath Miller to drive C.C. Brown four yards upfield on a fake block before releasing to make the catch. On a fake. On Parker's third touchdown, he blocked two guys. He didn't block one guy into another; he cleared out Fred Bennett, disengaged, and then blocked Ryans.

- The pass interference call that took away Ward's longest reception in more than a year looked pretty thin to my eyes. It didn't ultimately matter, but Ward has to work hard for those big gainers, and even he looked a little upset to have one unduly taken away.

- After a full slate of week one games, Ward is the only player in the league with more than one receiving touchdown. I don't know that it means anything, but it caught my notice.

- Those were two pretty generous spots to help the Steelers stall Houston's opening drive. Not that it ultimately mattered, but they were.

- That doesn't mean, Gary Kubiak, that you should throw your challenge flag when all of Matt Schaub, to say nothing of the ball cradled in his arms, disappeared completely from camera view when the quarterback plunged into the scrum.

- You know that things are going well on defense when even Nick Eason makes plays. I won't get too excited about the much-maligned Eason's day; he made the type of plays that he's suited to make, chasing down the QB laterally for a sack, and sniffing out a screen. Those are hustle plays that highlight his decent athleticism, and mask his still-present warts. But, it goes to show why it's silly for fans to freak out about contracts with paltry $115,000 signing bonuses. They're all upside. Through the pre-season and one real game, Eason looks like the top backup on the defensive line.

- I don't think the Texans are a bad team, but they're comprised almost entirely of so-so players. They've got Andre Johnson on offense, and who else of any real consequence? Owen Daniels is better than mediocre, I guess. Where's the anchor lineman? The workhorse back? Kevin Walter is the other starting wideout? Seriously? To win with a middlin' quarterback like Schaub will take more than mediocrity at almost all other positions, I'd think.

- On defense, it's the Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans show, with a bunch of entirely forgettable surrounding parts. Who are the good players in the secondary? Maybe Dunta Robinson, if he could ever get and/or stay on the field. I mean, if not for an injury early last year, Jason Simmons could well be starting in the secondary. Yes, that Jason Simmons.

- Houston tried to run some of those New York Giants formations, with two pass-rushing ends overloading the same side, but Anthony Weaver is no Justin Tuck. I don't know why some front offices keep lining up to overpay Baltimore's castoffs: Weaver, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Edgerton Hartwell, Gary Baxter, Will Demps, Ovie Mughelli… did I miss an ex-Raven success story somewhere that drives this phenomenon?

- Chris Meyers should never, ever again be asked to block Casey Hampton one-on-one.

- So, I counted four facemask penalties in this one game. I guess they weren't kidding about that being a point of emphasis this year.

- It's not that I don't get the perception that Troy Polamalu is "back;" I just wonder where exactly everyone thinks he went. He's not suddenly a top defensive player again because a so-so quarterback plopped one directly into his breadbasket, and that kind of play was never what made Polamalu special. Big plays like interceptions come and go, and half the time they have as much to do with luck as anything. On the game's second play from scrimmage, Ahman Green took a little pass at the 26, six yards behind the line of scrimmage, and Polamalu, streaking in from the 40 at the time of the pass, snuffed him out at the 29 for a three-yard loss. That's the kind of play that has always made Polamalu special, and they've been a relative constant.

- If Polamalu hadn't made that tackle for a three-yard loss, James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley would've made it a two-yard loss. The boys were swarming all day.

- When Lawrence Timmons shot into view to bust up Green on a screen pass, at first I thought he was Polamalu. It wasn't just the closing speed, or the suddenness; he kind of runs like Polamalu. They both kind of run like Phoebe in that one episode of Friends. (Yeah, I've seen just about every episode of Friends. Sue me.)

- Way to announce your arrival, Mr. Woodley. And it's going to take more play like that to stay out of the shadow of Calamity James Harrison's Last Season Was Not a Fluke Tour. Is there a more enjoyable tackler to watch than Harrison? When he's not making another perfect form tackle, he's spicing things up with a nice suplex. My wife asked me, after one of Harrison's sacks, "why is he still pinning that man's head to the ground with his knee?" I don't know, honey. Why do killer whales toy with seals before eating them?

- I've got to fit some kind of criticism in here somewhere, so here goes: on third-and-two, the quarterback should really not be losing 13 yards. Yeah, that's about all I've got.

- Ooh, one more: every time Byron Leftwich throws a ball—any ball, of any distance, to anyone—the clip of Mike Holmgren begging a young Brett Favre for "no more rocketballs, please" flashes through my mind. Yes, even in my mild criticisms, I've managed to loosely compare Leftwich to a young Favre.

- Hey, next week is Cleveland. I don't think much more need be said.


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