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mesaSteeler
09-12-2010, 10:25 PM
Steelers can win without Roethlisberger
By James Walker
http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/print?id=17411

PITTSBURGH -- If you predicted doom and gloom for the Steelers without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center, please raise your hand.

OK, I admit, I'm one of the many with my hand raised. (Nice to see Walker eating some crow! - mesa)

With no Roethlisberger and a good Atlanta Falcons team coming to Pittsburgh, the Steelers appeared to be very beatable in Week 1.

But thanks to a total team effort, Pittsburgh held everything together for four quarters and overtime to pull off a 15-9 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The game was capped by a 50-yard TD run in overtime by running back Rashard Mendenhall, one of the many Steelers contributors.

This was not a dominating win and it certainly wasn't pretty. But Pittsburgh extended its winning streak in season openers to an NFL-best eight consecutive games.

Although questions remain about Pittsburgh's quarterback situation -- I'll get to that in a bit -- no one can question the Steelers' toughness and character:tt04::tt04:. Not many teams can win without their $100 million quarterback -- especially against an Atlanta team many think is playoff-caliber.

Think of how good the Indianapolis Colts would be without Peyton Manning, the New England Patriots without Tom Brady or the Cincinnati Bengals without Carson Palmer. Pittsburgh's win defied the odds.

"We stayed together and played team football, and did it to the very end," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "We got some things to work on, absolutely, like all 31 other teams do. But we get to do it while we’re 1-0."

In what should be a blueprint for the next three games without Roethlisberger, who is suspended for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, Pittsburgh won by making Atlanta play its tempo. The Falcons had the more explosive offense and the better quarterback in Matt Ryan. But the Steelers' defense, running game and special teams helped turn this game into an ugly battle for field position.

Virtually every player who needed to step up for Pittsburgh in Roethlisberger's absence did.

Troy Polamalu recorded five tackles and had a critical fourth-quarter interception.
In addition to Mendenhall's 120 yards rushing, Hines Ward (six catches, 108 yards) had his franchise-best 26th game with more than 100 yards receiving. Linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley each recorded a sack, and safety Troy Polamalu recorded five tackles and an interception in the fourth quarter.

Atlanta tried beating Pittsburgh at its own game but couldn't. With the score tied 9-9 late in the fourth quarter, things began to unravel for the Falcons when Ryan threw an interception to Polamalu to set up a potential winning field goal. Jeff Reed missed the kick, but Pittsburgh's defense held again in overtime to set up Mendenhall's sprint to victory.

"All day on the run, we were creating seams," Mendenhall said. "In the run game, you just have to be patient. We knew that something was going to open up, and it did in overtime."

The game marked quarterback Dennis Dixon's first career victory in two starts. He was up and down, completing 18 of 26 passes for 236 yards and an interception. Tomlin described Dixon's game as "a winning effort," but there were plenty of instances where Dixon could have lost the game.

Pittsburgh, for the most part, played very conservatively on offense. But when Atlanta brought more defenders closer to the line of scrimmage, the Steelers were forced to open things up a bit. Despite several nice throws by Dixon, there were some head-scratching ones too, typical for an inexperienced quarterback.

Dixon's interception to Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson in the first quarter was a pass terribly underthrown to tight end Heath Miller. Atlanta, by my count, also dropped three more interception opportunities that could have changed the outcome. Most of Dixon's poor throws came when Atlanta fooled him with the coverage and Dixon tried to force the play.

"I would love to get a couple balls back, of course," Dixon said. "But that's why you play football, and that's why it's a total team game."

The Falcons also did a nice job keeping Dixon in pocket. The third-year quarterback only gained four yards on two attempts. Count on the Steelers' next three opponents using Sunday’s game tape to mirror the strategy Atlanta used to keep Dixon bottled up behind the line of scrimmage. Dixon's best throws were a beautiful deep pass to receiver Mike Wallace for 52 yards and a 25-yard strike to Ward.

Next up for the Steelers are the Tennessee Titans, who manhandled the Oakland Raiders in their season opener. But after losses Sunday by the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh will end Week 1 no worse than tied for first in the AFC North.

If anyone predicted that would happen, please raise your hand again.

scsteeler
09-12-2010, 10:59 PM
I have been saying all along that the Defense will be the key to us winning not the offense per say. We have to of course move the ball and make plays and not go 3 and out each time but overall we play team ball and good defense and we win.

Hines Ward Get's my Game Ball for his leadership on offense and calming Dixon down and hell making the catches that needed to be made.

MikeHaullace
09-12-2010, 11:00 PM
Anyone that doubted a win today doesn't watch enough Steelers football.

Downbylaw
09-13-2010, 06:45 AM
The Steelers D USUALLY is the catalyst for wins.

Curtain_of_Steel
09-13-2010, 10:55 AM
Well ok they won without BB. however is that how i want the season to go? Waiting on one slip up to lose a game late?

No thank you. I'll take and add in BB game 5 against the stains. give me a great def and BB qb'ing the team anyday.

3 more to go!

steeltheone
09-13-2010, 11:09 AM
FRANCHISE QB BR7

Third Rail
09-13-2010, 11:10 AM
Anyone who thinks that was some glorious, dominating win needs a serious wake-up call.

The defense certainly looked good, there is no doubt. But the offense (aside from Mendy and Redman on a couple of plays) looked pretty pedestrian. Ward and Wallace had a few nice grabs, but I'm seriously worried about having Dixon under center. He wasn't bad... but he wasn't that good either. Granted, it's early in the season and of course he was nervous given the circumstances. But next week at TN worries me because their D is pretty tough and they have one of the best RBs in the game.

I'm just afraid that we're celebrating a bit too early here. Let's see where we are in a month's time.

SteelCityMom
09-13-2010, 11:11 AM
The Steelers CAN win games without Ben, but like Curtain of Steel said, that's not exactly how I want all these games to go. The defenses Dixon is going to be up against aren't going to get any easier either. I don't see him playing all 4 games.

DanRooney
09-13-2010, 11:12 AM
Dixon and Randle El were terrible. What the hell is everyone talking about? We might as well run the ball on 3rd and 7 or longer because Dixon can't convert those plays with his arm.

Third Rail
09-13-2010, 11:19 AM
LOL... Randel El.

So for all the people who wanted to run Stefan Logan out of town for not taking a KO return to the house, I hope you're happy now. I remember when I watched that Redskins game last year where Antwaan dropped the ball on a return after it hit him in the head, all I could think was, "MAN, I WISH WE STILL HAD THAT GUY ON OUR TEAM!"

Downbylaw
09-14-2010, 12:31 PM
Well ok they won without BB. however is that how i want the season to go? Waiting on one slip up to lose a game late?

No thank you. I'll take and add in BB game 5 against the stains. give me a great def and BB qb'ing the team anyday.

3 more to go!

See 08 and 09 we won EXACTLY like we did yesterday. White knuckle nail biters.

Downbylaw
09-14-2010, 12:33 PM
Dixon and Randle El were terrible. What the hell is everyone talking about? We might as well run the ball on 3rd and 7 or longer because Dixon can't convert those plays with his arm.

Uh Ben was 29% last season on 3rd down and he was a SIX year vet. Dixon was only in his 2nd game. Care to comment? Arians fault? The line? The weather?

theplatypus
09-14-2010, 03:29 PM
You people in the doom and gloom crowd crack me up. Our 3rd string QB went 18-26 in his 2nd NFL start against a good team and we won. IT wasn't pretty, but the 1st couple games of the season rarely are. WE STILL FREAKING WON THE GAME!!! Jesus tap dancing christ I'll be fine with 2-2 when BR gets back, if we can manage to go 3-1 I'll be ecstatic.

DanRooney
09-14-2010, 03:37 PM
Uh Ben was 29% last season on 3rd down and he was a SIX year vet. Dixon was only in his 2nd game. Care to comment? Arians fault? The line? The weather?

Ben has had one of the highest 3rd down and long completion percentages since he's been the league. He is close to the best quarterback on 3rd and longs.

Most of our failed conversions come on 3rd and short. Wonder why?

Sure I'll comment. Dixon sucks. He'll be a career 3rd string QB after Ben comes back.

DanRooney
09-14-2010, 03:38 PM
You people in the doom and gloom crowd crack me up. Our 3rd string QB went 18-26 in his 2nd NFL start against a good team and we won. IT wasn't pretty, but the 1st couple games of the season rarely are. WE STILL FREAKING WON THE GAME!!! Jesus tap dancing christ I'll be fine with 2-2 when BR gets back, if we can manage to go 3-1 I'll be ecstatic.

Don't care we won in spite of Dixon. Not because of him. I would feel really bad for our D if we lost that game.

Reminds me of the "we are 13-3 with Rex Grossman at quarterback." That turned out pretty well!

Shea
09-14-2010, 04:01 PM
The Steelers CAN win games without Ben, but like Curtain of Steel said, that's not exactly how I want all these games to go. The defenses Dixon is going to be up against aren't going to get any easier either. I don't see him playing all 4 games.


I agree.

I'm especially concerned about the Ravens game.

Dixon ain't no Big Ben so I'm just praying for one more win.

toughsticks87
09-14-2010, 07:40 PM
I really wish we had Logan still.

Downbylaw
09-14-2010, 08:28 PM
Ben has had one of the highest 3rd down and long completion percentages since he's been the league. He is close to the best quarterback on 3rd and longs.

Most of our failed conversions come on 3rd and short. Wonder why?

Sure I'll comment. Dixon sucks. He'll be a career 3rd string QB after Ben comes back.

Substantiate those stats please. You say Dixon sucks? I dont care, its your opinion. I dont get mad because one expresses his opinion. For the record I wanted Batch/Leftwich is not Dixon. So............

Downbylaw
09-14-2010, 08:29 PM
Don't care we won in spite of Dixon. Not because of him. I would feel really bad for our D if we lost that game.

Reminds me of the "we are 13-3 with Rex Grossman at quarterback." That turned out pretty well!

That game was kind of like SB 40 huh or last year vs the Vikes huh? Where the qb gave us nothing.