This article contains opinion.
Queue the Pittsburgh Polka, “We’re from the town with the great football team, we cheer the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Now if you are familiar with that tune, it would have been read to the beat. If not, don’t fret, you’ll hear it echoing through the football world come February.
Pittsburgh squeaked a win out in Jerry World last week. So naturally, the NFL media goes crazy.
In their biased, “What have you done for me lately?” approach to analyzing the game, Pittsburgh was assumed to be cooling off. Blame it on the Cincinnati Bengals’ Twitter intern for posting a video of T.J “Whosyamomma” Houshmandzadeh cleaning his cleat with a Terrible Towel. Or, blame it on Big Ben who took his week on the COVID-19 reserve list to travel back to 2014 and bring back that arm and mobility.
The Bengals do not serve as a formidable foe; however, a win is a win, and Pittsburgh has nine of them. For the first time in their storied franchise, Pittsburgh begins a season undefeated through nine games.
The match-up against Cincinnati was on paper different than what it played out to be. The Bengals sit at the bottom of the barrel in pass protection, and the Steeler’s defense ranks first rushing the passer. The game had fewer sacks than I imagined, and the defense seemed to be letting up a few gash plays.
Obviously, holding your opponent to 10 points is a recipe to win 98 percent of the time. Pittsburgh does a fantastic job stopping teams on third down. This is one of the biggest reasons why the Steeler’s defense is so dang efficient. The Steel Curtain also managed to produce two key turnovers.
In a season focused on the defense, Pittsburgh’s offense sure made a statement. Not only putting up their third-highest point total this season, 36. Ben Roethlisberger, “Big Ben,” lead attack picked apart Cincinnati as they pleased. There were big plays from Eric Ebron, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool, proving how lethal this offense really is.
Playing the Steelers has to be miserable to prepare for. They can excel through many different avenues, throwing, running or improvising as they go.
Pittsburgh’s wide receiver core seems to be the best in the league right now. Washington and Ebron both have three touchdowns, Johnson has four, Smtih-Schuster has five, and rookie sensation Claypool has seven receiving and two rushing. Consider James Conner’s five on the ground, and it is safe to say Pittsburgh’s high-octane offense of years past is humming just as well.
The most important takeaway from Pittsburgh’s Week 10 performance is this: the Steelers are just getting started. It seems week after week Pittsburgh brings something new to the table.
Pittsburgh can exceed specific performances in every aspect.
In Week 7, they proved they can come out hot and still pull out a win after their opponent’s adjustments. In Week 8, they proved their defense can let up major yards but still provide crucial turnovers and opportunities for the offense. In Week 9, they proved they are not the Steelers team of years past and actually win a trap game. In Week 10, they proved Big Ben is back and lead his team to victory without having to take big hits in the pocket and on the run.
Roethlisberger is the clear-cut favorite to win comeback player of the year. I think the NFL has to consider Big Ben for MVP. He provided 88.3 percent of the team’s total yards Sunday.
Not to mention his in-game adjustments. Roethlisberger is Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator. Compare this to the years when Pittsburgh was favored in the AFC, he refused to speak to Offesnive Coordinator (OC) Todd Haley.
In addition, he had to deal with the locker room drama of Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Now, he has no outside distractions, and he calls the plays as OC Randy Fichtner watches from the sidelines.
Watch an entire Steelers’ game and tell me the difference when Roethlisberger calls the plays versus when Fichtner calls the pays. Fichtner has been Big Ben’s quarterback coach for eight years prior to his hiring of offensive coordinator in 2018. What Roethlisberer says, goes. Rewatch the Baltimore Ravens game in Week 8 if you don’t believe me.
The real reason this team is playing so well is their off-the-field/in locker room relationship. Week after week, it is obvious how well the guys get along. It is evident on the sidelines, post-game interviews and social media. The defense and offense are such a close-knit group, it is impossible not to like.
Pittsburgh has that feeling that championship teams do, that “storybook Cinderella story” feels. Years of being favorited but choking, a year after playing with third-string QBs, and now it is all coming together. Coach Mike Tomlin, Big Ben and the city of Pittsburgh are all on the same page.
And that was all on display on Sunday. The Steelers were everything we thought they were.
Pittsburgh routed Cincinnatti, and made them look like they didn’t even belong on the same field.
In a 36-10 blowout, the Steelers dominated on both sides of the ball. The Steelers threw for four touchdowns and 333 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Joe Burrow was constantly under duress. He was taken down four times, two of which coming from T.J. Watt.
After this dominating performance, the Steelers sit atop the league at 9-0. The road to the Super Bowl is looking even more clear.
This year is going to be special from the Steelers. The rest of the world will be able to watch and enjoy as Pittsburgh pushes toward their seventh Super Bowl.
So, sit down, shut up, drink an Iron City, and play the Pittsburgh Polka. Stairway to Seven is coming.