My thoughts, for what they're worth:

In Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Steelers matched the Browns' intensity with their own and emerged victorious. Again. Ian Whetstone offers his thoughts, for what they're worth:

- I would open with a whine-fest about the electricity in my home blinking out early in the first quarter, and the dish taking a whole six or seven minutes to reacquire the signal. But, I'm told that many in the Pittsburgh area lost power for the entire game, and that the hurricane that precipitated the weather caused a lot of people in the world actual problems, so I should probably count my blessings.

- Plus, not a whole lot happened in the early going, anyway. Troy Polamalu did set the tone from the first snap, driving something called a "Syndric Steptoe" into the backfield and right into the ball carrier, Casey Hampton-style. Polamalu had himself another fine day blowing up running plays and battling with Kellen Winslow in coverage. Those two superior athletes have put together a nice ongoing tussle ever since Winslow stopped popping wheelies and actually found his way onto the football field.

- Really, the secondary did nice work in coverage overall, and minus Deshea Townsend. (And, yes, Al Michaels still can't get enough of Ike Taylor's degree from "Swaggin.") It helped that Cleveland is basically down to two legitimate receiving threats, but Bryant McFadden played a strong, physical game when matched up against Braylon Edwards.

- Nine catches for 111 yards and a touchdown would be a nice day for a receiver, but as Edwards' total over his last three games versus Pittburgh, it says that maybe Chad Johnson isn't the only Pro Bowl wideout in the division routinely coming up short against the black and gold.

- It's unfortunate, but I'd call it a virtual guarantee that McFadden plays elsewhere next year. The free agent market at corner is perpetually skewed by far more demand than supply, and when a Drayton Florence can land $6 million a year, someone will overpay McFadden on speculation that he can step up into a long-term starting job.

- On the other hand, if he keeps playing as he has, I'd expect a strong push to retain Chris Kemoeatu after the season. The Steelers have shown willingness to pay top dollar for interior linemen, and Kemoeatu's game continues to grow. He's always had brute strength and drive, and he's been showing linebackers what he can do on a pull. I saw some good work from him adjusting to a stunting Kamerion Wimbley, so maybe he's catching up on the mental side of things, too.

- The offensive line as a unit has made Willie Parker's job easier, so far. They haven't necessarily been blowing open holes, but they at least aren't frequently collapsing down the middle. Last season, that spoiled too many runs before they ever got going. It's stating the obvious, but sturdier play from Justin Hartwig at the center position has made a world of difference. Kendall Simmons looks significantly better with decent play to his left, just as did during Jeff Hartings' better years. Runs that last season would probably have been blown up in the backfield can now at least be bounced outside by one of the league's fastest backs to the corner.

- Pass blocking has also looked to be improved, even if it isn't showing in the sack rate so far. Sacks aside, the constant pressure hasn't been there in Ben Roethlisberger's face, and that can only help the still-young quarterback to grow even more. His deep accuracy seems to get better every year; the long bomb to Parker proved to be too difficult a catch for a running back, but the placement couldn't have been more perfect.

- Roethlisberger knows how to throw in high winds; even his deep balls cut through the air with zip, unlike Derek Anderson's duck that McFadden stood under for what seemed like whole minutes. I'd think that the need to throw with a little extra vigor through the wind had something to do with a few of the drops by the pass-catchers. Hines Ward doesn't drop too many touchdown balls.

- The passing game worked adequately at all depths, considering the conditions, but what is the deal with the wide receiver screens? Some teams can make those work, but I haven't seen the Steelers have more than sporadically modest success with them. Is there some hidden benefit that eludes my understanding? Some setup for future plays? Because it seems to me that they get much better production out of more standard passing plays.

- The offense managed to adjust effectively to passing in the heavy gusts, but the return teams… wow. What a mess. I'm tempted to throw this game out as any meaningful indication of Mewelde Moore's abilities as a punt returner; after all, he was pretty successful for four years in Minnesota. And, he did avoid any major catastrophes even with balls bouncing and swirling all over the place.

- Could Cleveland have had any more success punting? Every punt that hit the turf bounced not just in the right direction, but for quite a distance.

- Could Cleveland be any shakier in the secondary? I don't know if they should be more concerned that their starters are Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald, or that looking at the depth behind them, those two are the obvious choices to start. I know that Leigh Bodden had injury problems, but that was not a position group from which they could afford to lose talent.

- Shaun Rogers was supposed to make up for the loss of Bodden by virtue of his presence rushing the passer. Along with Corey Williams, the story went that he would not only turn the line around, but the improved pass rush would bolster the secondary and also free the linebackers to make more plays. Well, the defensive line does indeed look better in Cleveland… but the corners and linebackers still stink.

- On the other side of the ball, the Browns enjoy what I would call the league's best offensive tackle tandem. Kevin Shaffer struggled in his first year with Cleveland as the blindside protector, but the addition of superstud Joe Thomas moved him to the right side, and together they kept last week's dynamic duo of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley pretty quiet.

- It helps the Steelers, I think, that their strength up front in Hampton and Aaron Smith lines up across from Cleveland's weakest area across their line, the center/right guard pair of Hank Fraley and Rex Hadnot.

- Brett Keisel may be the least problematic loss possible among the starting defensive line, but the loss will be felt. It means a good deal more playing time in the rotation for every member of a pretty old stable of backups.

- Two games down against middlin' AFC teams, one big-time showdown against an NFC powerhouse comin' up. Donovan McNabb is reminding me why I liked him so much for a lot of years. Brian Westbrook will put Pittsburgh's defensive speed to a real test, and it might be just the time to bust out more of Lawrence Timmons.

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