Having spent 12 years toiling in the ups and downs of NFL life, the look on Justin Hartwig's face in the post game locker room said it all without him having to utter a word. Too many plays, too many opportunities left on the field, and too much work was in the barn to be feeling that miserable. As I gazed over the lifeless room, my thoughts went back to game time. Here's what I saw from groundhog level.
* The Counter Pike play the Steelers run showed huge signs of life in reviving the corpse of what was the Steelers' running game. Big Juicy gets his mojo rolling as he pulls and leads through the four hole on the front side. Linebackers are getting hip to Chris K steamrolling them, so they're starting to attack Chris at his knees. So Kemoeatu countered by rolling a Bears linebacker out of the hole by using his knees and turning his head with a little "forearm face-wash" on that Mendenhall 39-yarder. Willie Parker ripped a couple of double-digit yardage wise runs on the same play. Good stuff. We need more.
* I liked Big Ben bootlegging and going "Flying Nun" over a defender. Alex Brown crashed so far down to the inside that it was practically a turkey-trot into the end zone. By the way, that action was a Counter Pike play I believe that Ben bootlegged and bamboozled the Bears with, and I'm thinking he didn't tell anybody that he was going to do that either. There's always one guy that tips it off. Loose lips sink ships.
* Potsie Farrior had another monstrous game. Watching James take the proper angles on the stretch play so that he "meets'em at the pass" is the by-product of years of film watching, endless practice reps, and many games played. His work on sub-package blitzes, where he lined up on the end of the line and rushed off the corner over Bears tackle Orlando Pace nearly netted James at least two sacks. Jay Cutler proved far more resourceful than I had imagined.
* When are they going to start throwing flags at offensive tackles who blatantly tackle James Harrison? On two separate occasions, Harrison beat Pace cleanly to the inside only to run out of legs. Pace finally found a way to slow Harrison down by mugging Harrison with a big ol' hand to the face. It looked like the "Vulcan death grip" made popular by Spock on Star Trek.
* Santonio Holmes was thrown to 14 times on Sunday and caught 5. I saw him after the game and he was having his hand checked by the training staff. I think Holmes was battling more than an injured wrist. He looked like he was trying to catch more balls with his body than his hands. He's too good at using those golden hands to be a body catcher.
* I saw Ty Carter getting treatment on the sidelines for that contused thigh. They used to be called "Charlie Horses." A helmet to the thigh causes unbelievable pain both during the game and the day after. It feels like the muscle is tearing like tissue paper. You can't bend at the knee at all. And when you get around to taking care of your morning business the next day, it's an 18" free fall to the seat. I cracked one once, much to the consternation of my wife, after getting a nasty deep thigh bruise on one leg and a semi on the other. You probably didn't need to know that, though.
* Speaking of Carter, and whether he should've been out on the field or not, it's a moot point. Of course he's going to be out there. Nobody of substance takes themselves out in a critical situation unless there's something sticking out and going in the opposite direction of where it should be going. The doctors cleared him, so you "Cowboy up" and let it rip. Hindsight is 20-20.
* That leaves Jeff Reed. My heart goes out to Reed. Most guys who play long enough can recall losing a game somewhere along the line due to their actions. Mine was a game in Seattle where I ended up pulling down Steelers linebacking coach Keith Butler. My holding call brought back the winning touchdown. All I can say is life will be rather drab and dreary until Jeff goes out and knocks out the gremlins with a few field goals, or better a game winner.