Two games proved Steelers are that good
Monday, September 17, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Here are the two questions that lingered around town all last week: Are the Steelers that good? Are the Cleveland Browns that bad?
The answers came from two different NFL fronts yesterday: Yes and no.
At Heinz Field, it was clear that, yes, the Steelers have a chance to be that good. They didn't make the Buffalo Bills look quite as inept as they had the Browns seven days earlier, but they still dominated both offensively and defensively in a 26-3 victory. Until they are more severely tested, and that won't happen until October, based on the evidence of the first two games of the season, the Steelers are that good.
In Cleveland, it was even more emphatic. No, the Browns are not that bad. They made the Steelers look even better by recovering from their humiliation and engaging in a shootout with the offensively excellent Cincinnati Bengals, and coming away with a 51-45 victory. Based on how the Steelers manhandled them, the Browns would have figured to have a better chance of being held to 51 points for the season than scoring that many in one game.
So on both fronts, the Steelers looked good.
And on a third, too.
That would be the Bills, a team that lost on a last-second field goal to highly regarded Denver last week, 15-14. The Bills were impressed. They had to be.
"They're awfully good," coach Dick Jauron said of the Steelers. "They played well. They definitely deserved to beat us."
It was easy to see why Jauron was impressed. His team was limited to a puny 223 yards of total offense and didn't score until midway through the third quarter. Quarterback J.P. Losman was sacked four times. Running back Marshawn Lynch flashed brilliant at times, but could not consistently find yardage against the Steelers defense and ran 18 times for 64 yards.
Rookie linebacker Paul Posluszny, from Hopewell High and Penn State, delighted his family and friends with a game-high 12 tackles but, like his teammates, he couldn't handle the Steelers. Concerning the Steelers success on third down -- 11 conversions in 16 attempts -- he said, "We knew what was coming and we couldn't stop it."
Lee Evans, the Bills top receiver, could do almost nothing against the Steelers coverage, catching two balls for 17 yards.
"Their defense moves around a lot," he said. "They showed a lot of different looks. They're very active. Their front seven does a really good job and [Troy] Polamalu is running all over the place."
The Bills never really had a chance. They had 10 first downs, compared to 24 for the Steelers and, astonishingly, only one in the first half. Their greatest -- perhaps only -- success was keeping the Steelers from converting scoring chances into touchdowns. Jeff Reed kicked four field goals, all in the first half, as the Steelers advanced to the Bills 16, 10, 21 and 13 before being stopped.
The Steelers failure to convert those drives into touchdowns might be considered a disappointment, particularly since the Bills lost three defensive regulars in the Denver game. But in that respect, the Steelers were more successful than Denver, which did not score a touchdown last week.
Posluszny was one of the few Bills to savor anything from the game.
"It was great to get back home and see the city again," he said. "The game obviously wasn't anything we wanted it to be. The Steelers, obviously, are a great team. That was Steelers football today.
"Even though the game didn't turn out well, it's something I'll always remember, coming here, playing against the Steelers in my rookie year. Playing in the NFL, playing in your home town, you can't beat that. It was a great experience. I wish we could have got the win. That would have been unbelievable."
To their credit, the Bills would not use the possibly catastrophic injury to tight end Kevin Everett as an excuse. Everett suffered a spinal cord injury against Denver and, although his condition is improving, he still faces possible paralysis.
"You can't make any excuses because you are a professional," guard Derrick Dockery said. "No doubt Kevin's situation was tough on us, but you have to find a way and coach did a great job of getting us prepared. We just have to do a better job of executing the game plan."
Jauron said, "There's no denying it was a difficult week. Our guys prepared well, they worked hard all week. I just tip my hat to the Steelers and say, 'We didn't get it done.' "