As far as last night goes, the final score didn't matter. Rather, it was the individual perforamances that counted. And in my oh so humble opinion, just about everyone the Steelers tested ultimately delivered.
If this is your first time catching an OFTOT game recap, it usually breaks down like this - Things That Were Awesome, Things That Were Not Awesome, and Things That [fill in the blank with something ridiculous that sucks]. But as I didn't really see too many negatives last night, and really, it's still preseason, today's recap will seem more like one big ray of sunshine.
Of course, the caveat to all of this is that it was one preseason game. The FIRST preseason game. And I'm not trying to say anything beyond the fact that the guys below had solid evenings.
So, here's a bunch of stuff I noted from last night that may or may not be of interest to you. These are in no particular order and if I've omitted anything, it's not because it wasn't awesome, but more likely that I just got tired of writing. Which, coincidentlly, isn't altogether a bad problem to have after just the 1st preseason game of the year.
I said most of what needed to be said last night. Only fitting that his 1st catch was a tough, 11 yarder on which he got hit hard, but made a great effort and hung on to the ball. And that 45 yarder from Batch was everything I wanted to see from Sweed and more. Last year, he couldn't catch a pass to save his life. Nerves, some said. Well, not so last night. Here's to hoping that was just a preview of what's to come!
9 rushes for 24 yards doesn't sound like it's going to turn any heads, but his first couple of runs were solid. What I liked was that on the 1st rush, he got a short 1st down running right between the tackles and on the 2nd rush, he fought for a couple of yards he shouldn't have gotten (not a big gain but he made something out of nothing...with Willie it would've probably been no gain or a loss). He didn't get a chance at the goal line. So we'll have to wait at least another week to see what he can do in the red zone. But all in all, not a bad night for a guy who missed almost his entire rookie season.
If this is preseason game 1, I can't wait to see regular season game 1.
Anthony Madison's INT - ultimately nullified by an erroneous pass interference call (should've gone the other way), but it was still a sick grab.
Jeff Reed's 50 Yard Strike
It was pretty. Besides the fact that it's August and not January, what else can you say?
Two big catches for 35 yards. Plus, the play after his "big" play, he had his man beat. Dixon just underthrew him. Still, he went up and gave it a shot. So I'm gonna give him props for that as well. After all, this was his "1st game" as a pro. Great debut for a 1st year guy who was probably more nervous than Donte Stallworth at a M.A.D.D. meeting.
Chuck Batch only threw two passes last night. It was obvious that the Coaches were looking for something out of Dixon. And I think it's safe to say they got it. He wasn't a hero out there, but they tested his arm a couple of times and it looked serviceable each time (serviceable). 10 for 19, 112 yards isn't going to start a conversation about Canton, but no turnovers and some good play with defenders in his face on at least one occasion is a good sign. They didn't even have to test his legs.
Of course, Isaac Redman! Ever since The Bus retired, the Steelers have been looking for a guy to run between the tackles, to move the pile, and fight his way into the end zone. Willie Parker's done the best he can do. Mewelde Moore has his upside in the red zone, and Mendenhall may be solid too - we still don't know. But what we do know is that this undrafted rookie from Bowie State very clearly wants the job. And fire counts for a lot. Can he do it against a 1st string defense? That remains to be seen. But at least for last night, he gets some glory.
Joe Burnett's Redemption - After fumbling a punt (which of course he didn't actually lose), the kid needed to do something to save face. The pick that was the turning point in the game did just that for him. Not just the pick, but the pick and the 42 yard run back! He's a little guy at 5'9", 192 lbs. But he played big in that spot. I'll take that out of a 5th rounder for sure.
Ziggy Hood's sack and dance - My only complaint is that no one got it on video for YouTube. At least not yet. Ziggy Hood was in the QBs face all night. On the Joe Burnett interception, who do you think put the pressure on? Yep, Ziggy Hood. Again, this wasn't against the 1st team offense, but the fact that he shined even against backups is encouraging. As for the dance, well, it was his 1st sack as a professional (not one that counts, but still). You gotta let him enjoy it properly.
Shaun McDonald - Last but certainly not least. With a stat line like this - 6 catches, 69 yards (including the 19 yarder from Dixon) - you know he's another reliable, veteran target. And the Steelers don't usually sign free agents, period. Let alone sign them to sit on the bench. So barring any unforseen mishaps, I think this guy is pretty much a lock to make the team.
Also, let the record show that Ramon Foster is a HOUSE. 6'5", 325 lbs. Max Starks only has three inches and about 20 pounds over that. And the kid will probably grow (slightly, but not excessively) larger as he ages. That said, I didn't get a great look at his actual performance. So I hope he can play, because I'll take that kind of girth every day of the week.
And if that all wasn't enough for you, here's a video of all the best moments from last night including many discussed above...
So, maybe I'm being too much of an optimist right now, but the only bad thing I can say is that - the Mike Wallace joke is already over, after only one preseason game.
If this is where all of the young guys are starting, I can't wait to see where they go from here.
Now, I'm curious - What did you all see and like? Were there things that worried you besides the O-Line (which someone will inevitably bring up)? Were there any notable individual efforts I overlooked? And, please tell me someone recorded Silverback's soundbite from the Suzy Kolber interview?
All you need to know is that tonight, the starters will play one or two series', and the rest will be a scouting exercise.
So instead of spending hours putting together my thoughts on who and what to watch for, I dedicated myself to a much nobler and fruitful endeavor...creating that totally ridiculous and random fake Mike Tomlin twitter feed you see above.
Sure, those fake tweets don't sound like Tomlinisms. But that wasn't the exercise.
This is just a little something to keep you entertained until kickoff tonight.
Coincidentally, preseason or not, I'm pretty fired up about the return of Steelers football!
And preseason or not, tradition is tradition.
So here's The Wood photoshop that I posted up all last season on gamedays...
May he lead us to victory...or at least no major injuries, anyway.
What, the Philadelphia Daily News got tired of reporting on injured Eagles?
Were the players reckless for pointing guns at each other? Absolutely.
But the NFL's policy states that it's perfectly fine for players to possess guns for sport or protection. And I'm gonna take a shot in the dark and say that shooting targets falls under sport. Besides, and I can't stress this enough, IT HAPPENED THREE YEARS AGO!
I think we can all move on now...
But if you'd like to read about things that are relevant to 2009, may I suggest these links...
“On the first snap, Aaron Smith had great pad level and created penetration that really put the guy that was blocking him and a backfield guy on the floor. One guy got three. When you stack people up like that, you’re going to have a party in the backfield, and that’s what happened."