I don’t know about you, but I had this horrible sinking feeling during the first quarter of the Cincinnati game. I was so confident sitting down at the beginning of the game that the Steelers were going to show us all what I know they are made of, that when the game quickly disintegrated into a tangled web of penalties and mistakes that were so bad we were facing a two score deficit early, I was wondering if I could maybe become a soccer fan, because this whole football/hockey thing wasn’t working out for me. And then a switch seemed to get thrown and everything (well, almost everything) began to click, and you don’t realize how fast you can forget those earlier moments of near panic. By the end of the game, I had my best “I told you so” expression on and was thinking that the biggest problem was deciding whom I thought Coach Tomlin should award the game ball to. Because there was a plethora of possibilities: in no particular order
• Keenan Lewis, who had a great game overall, but was most notable by his pass deflection on a pass for A.J. Green in the end zone. A fellow blogger has written an entire post breaking the play down. For me, that level of detail isn’t really necessary to understand that it was just a beautiful, timely and key play.
• Willie Colon. The entire O-line could probably share in the honor actually, but Willie Colon, who has often drawn my ire in the past, just to be honest, played inspired ball. The sports talk chatter today kept coming back to the hard tackle on Vontaze Burfick as a game changer. He played past the whistle and drove the 248 pounds linebacker into the turf in a frenzied fashion. It was Steeler toughness personified and seemed to send a message that the team was done getting pushed around. Most of the callers saw it as the true turning point in the game. I can’t say I disagree.
• Doug Legursky always plays in the shadow of one of the best centers in the game, but he’s always ready to go and play at a high level. He did it again Sunday night.
• Ike Taylor gets a vote, as much for what he did on the field as what he didn’t: draw any penalties.
• Jonathan Dwyer for, riding on that excellent blocking of the offensive line, made us think fondly of The Bus. He tallied up 122 yards, the first time a Steeler running back has hit the 100-yard mark this season. Where has he been all of our lives?
• LaMarr Woodley, with an assistant from a Bengal helmet, had a key interception.
• Heath Miller, I think, has to be in the conversation for helping Mike Adams on the line and managing to score too.
• And, of course, Ben Roethlisberger, who, as I predicted, played a great game and earned all our praise.
Coach Tomlin said it: they didn’t blink, and I’m saying that we’re back in business. Now can we ride that into a big showdown with the new league darling, RG3?