The 2012 season started slow for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a 2-3 start in which the team lost all three games on the road to AFC teams, the revived Steelers reeled off three consecutive wins. Most recently, Pittsburgh dismantled the New York Giants (6-3) at Metlife Stadium, 24-20. The score fails to tell the true tale of the game, as Eli Manning and company only accumulated 182 yards of total offense. The team found the right time to start playing strong football on both sides of the ball.
In week 1, Peyton Manning looked unstoppable, and thrashed the typically feared Steelers' defense at will. After Ben Roethlisberger's stunning performance on third downs, and complete control of possession in the third quarter, Manning needed only one 71-yard play to put Denver back on top. The defense, sans Ryan Clark and James Harrison, uncharacteristically surrendered several big plays and the team lost 31-19.
After beating the lowly Jets handily in week 2, Pittsburgh traveled to Oakland and battled the winless Raiders. Again, the defense gave up big plays at less than optimal times, and the Raiders stunned the Steelers, 34-31. This time, the offense turned the ball over multiple times which left Carson Palmer and crew too many opportunities. Eventually, Palmer capitalized on those chances.
Mike Vick essentially handed the Steelers a win against the Eagles by fumbling three times, including one just before the goal line after an impressive Philadelphia drive. The sloppy game fell into Pittsburgh's favor, but the team ran out of luck in their week five matinée in Nashville. The third loss to an AFC opponent in only four tries put the Steelers in danger of losing any tiebreakers at the end of the season. Remember, last season the team traveled to Denver instead of hosting a game at Heinz Field due to a tiebreak with Baltimore.
Then, after a slow start in Cincinnati, the defense shut down the Bengals who employ one of the greatest receivers in football, A.J. Green. Ike Taylor took plenty of heat after a few atrocious games, and rose to the occasion against an elite player. The Steelers defeated the division-rival Bengals in convincing fashion, which turned their luck around. Against Cincinnati, the defense and offense finally clicked in all facets of the game. Jonathan Dwyer erupted for 122 yards on only 17 carries, while the defense stymied the Bengals potent passing attack and held them to only 185 total yards. The Steelers offense totaled up 431 yards in the victory. The team's road woes finally fell to the wayside.
The next week, while sporting some of the ugliest uniforms ever worn in professional sports, the Steelers shocked the league with a blowout win against the Washington Redskins. Dwyer scampered for over 100 yards for the second consecutive week, and Roethlisberger picked the Redskins secondary apart with three touchdown passes. While the offense did their part, the defense held the dynamic superstar Robert Griffin III to 177 yards. Not to mention, the quarterback failed to gain significant scrambling yards for the first time in his career.
On Sunday, the New York Giants gained most of their yards on questionable penalties, such as the terrible blow to the head call against Ryan Clark on Victor Cruz. Other than a controversial touchdown scored on a fumble by Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers dominated the game. The win notched their second consecutive road victory, which happened at the expense of the defending Super Bowl champs. Also, running back Isaac Redman rumbled for over 140 yards, which means that the Steelers backups keep trampling defenses. The offense cruised after the costly turnover with yet another backup running back.
This week, Pittsburgh hosts offensive coordinator Todd Haley's former club the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs (1-7) held zero leads this season, as their only win this season came in overtime against the New Orleans Saints. Trap games exist, but I believe that with the offense and defense clicking so well together, the Steelers should win easy. In fact, the rest of the league needs to take notice of Pittsburgh, because a seventh title could be on the horizon.

Posted in Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Steelers

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