The reports of both the Steelers and Ben’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. The reports of Ben being injured may have been fake news. The reports of Ben not being able to throw the deep ball were ludicrous. The calls for Ben to be eased into retirement after the season are so much poppycock in the wind.  In short, turns out there is exactly nothing wrong with #7 nor the chances of the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers to win #7.

The Biblical Lazarus. Terminator 2. Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction‘s bathtub.

Surprise! I actually can throw deep and intermediate between the numbers!!!

Murder by Death. The Third Man. This was our Hollywood movie plot with a surprise twist that baffled most pundits and even most Steelers fans.This was James Bond skiing off a cliff, opening a parachute, grabbing onto a helicopter as it flies by, dropping into the water on top of a submarine, climbing into the hatch just before it submerges, and firing a ballistic missile that takes out a death ray kind of crazy.

How can a team be so moribund, so written off, and so terrible looking in virtually every aspect of the game then turn around to look like a Super Bowl contender? Was it hookers and blow at halftime? Did Superman spin the planet backwards? Did they call in Lance for an adrenaline shot?

All of us in the 3rd Quarter. 
Steelers fans have formed their own 4-H club – the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history — (paraphrasing) Spiro Agnew
Fans, pundits, local scribes… they had all almost universally given up on this team. “Blow it all up!” “Cut Ben, fire the coaches!” “This team is done!” “They’ll never change!” “We do what we do!!!” “Mason Rudolph can’t be any worse!” “Bring in Dobbs!”
Guess I’ll just retire at halftime, since you don’t love me anymore.
Forget about turning that oil tanker––they turned the game around on a dime. Hell, they turned the season around on a dime. They took a wave of pessimism and dismissive prose against them and judoed it back on their critics.. All I can say is if you’ve been watching this team for any length of time and you doubt Ben’s ability to make magic happen and to pull rabbits out of a hat or escape from the straightjacket wrapped in chains with handcuffs while submerged in a tank hanging upside down… Shame on you.
This doozy of a comeback was the 4th fourth-quarter comeback Ben has orchestrated this year, which ties his career-high for fourth-quarter comebacks in a season. This one was real and it was spectacular.

How about that TD to JuJu? That was shades of the Martavis 4th down deep throw vs Jacksonville in the infamous playoff loss.

How about the 50-yards in the air bullseye to DJ? Or the deep seam throw to Claypool? Ben was spitting frozen watermelon seeds through the gap in his front teeth.

Wheelin’, dealin’, and feelin’ it in Half #2.

The Steelers overcame a 17-point 2nd half deficit for Ben’s biggest second-half comeback of his entire career. This was like the aforementioned Jacksonville playoff game except that the Steelers defense managed to make enough second-half stops in this one to make it count in the win column.

It was also the Steelers 3rd biggest 2nd half deficit overcome in their entire franchise history and their biggest comeback in 17 years (the Browns playoff game). In the same season, Pittsburgh now has lost a game in which they led by 14 points with 30 minutes to go and won a game they trailed by 17 with 18 minutes to play… in the same season!  Pass the heart medication, Grandma!


I’ll just take this, thanks.
Michael Hilton has completely and utterly laid to waste any doubts about how important he is to this defense. His ability to both disguise before the snap and time his blitzes are at the highest level, but he’s also great at finding a path to the runner, he’s decent in coverage, and he just got two turnovers in perhaps the most important game of this season to date. The Steelers got so, so lucky that two other teams cut Hilton and gave them a chance to get him––after they drafted the wrong Ole Miss CB in 2016. However, let it not be said that they can’t develop any CBs, because they’ve taken a street free agent and made him indispensable,  Of course, they are likely to pay for not only that development but also their hardball refusal to negotiate with him while he was under restricted free agent deals. I’m certain Hilton and his agent haven’t forgotten that he was starting and playing very well for them while playing for peanuts. If they want to keep him for 2021, it’ll cost them.
Honey, I’m home!!!
Speaking of developing and paying through the nose like an Egyptian Pharoah’s brain, T.J. Watt is about to get paid like the best defensive player in the NFL. If he signs the biggest contract ever for a defensive player, he may still possibly be underpaid. Great players make big plays in big spots in big games. Watt got the first strip-sack of Phillip Rivers in more than a year, leading to a jump-start goal-to-go possession for an offense desperate to score, had another big sack, a tackle for loss, a QB hit, and would have completely taken over the game if the NFL officials still called false starts and holding.

Right tackle false started again. — Jeemie on

This has become the NFL’s version of the NBA’s leeway on traveling. Teams are coaching their tackles to push the limits of this tactic. The Steelers are not one of those teams. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Talk amongst yourselves.

Part of the turnaround for the Steelers offense was that they stopped giving Benny Snell Football™ touches and snaps. He’s slow but he’s also not quick. I know the coach is in love with him and he seems to be a great kid, but he is Tomlin’s Linda Eastman, only without the huge inheritance.

It took all yinz guys to come up with that playcall? Oh, boy.

Mike Tomlin has a lot of great qualities as a head coach, and his teams win A LOT. His players truly appreciate that he is incredibly loyal, even if it drives the average fan to perplexity. You could even argue that he takes a lot of second-guessing criticism that isn’t warranted. But his failure to take a timeout before the Colts’ 3rd and 18 play, late in the first half was a whopper. Instead of the Steelers getting the ball to a 1st down at midfield with 45 seconds remaining and one timeout, they ended up with only a desperation heave as the clock went to 0:00. Did he lack confidene in his defense’s ability to stop the Colts on 3rd and a mile? Did he want to make the Colts work “under duress with the clock”? It might not have guaranteed the Steelers 3 more crucial points, considering the lack of distance from their replacement kicker’s leg, but… at least give your offense a chance. Let’s hope somewhere in the dark recesses of brain matter, he was thinking about that decision while the Colts were driving at the end of the game and living in those fears for a minute.  It’s a fine line between making wine and smashing grapes, indeed.

The end of half timeouts vicar of vacillation.

Frank Reich is a top offensive coach. He has an excellent defensive coordinator in Matt Eberflus who Reich gives free rein. The Indy braintrust put together a whale of a game plan that resulted in 30 minutes of domination. Unfortunately for them, the game is 60 minutes long. The coaching adjustments the Steelers made, particularly on defense, were huge in that turnaround. In the first half, they simply could not stop the Colts runners from turning losses into gains or short gains into chunks, and the threat of the run opened up the world to the Colts’ pass game.  But after a lengthy FG drive early in the 3rd quarter, the Pittsburgh defense basically took the Colts out of the game. Suddenly run lanes were clogged, pass coverage was tighter, pass rushers were causing havoc––they got Indianapolis and its great offensive coach on their heels. They got sacks, an interception, and probably should have had another, game-clinching interception at the hands of Minkah Fitzpatrick. They got Indy away from the run, took away their passing mojo, and gave their offense the time they needed to erase the deficit.

Why did Pittsburgh’s defensive adjustments make Colts one-dimensional and stale in the 2nd half? Why did Colts stop running? COACHING.

Only the officials can stop the Steelers’ defense.

Speaking of criticism easy to make in the heat of the moment that should be contextualized, “Why does Ben continue to stick with inconsistent mopes like Ebron and DJ?”  The answer is: Because he needs to make them better, not write them off. He’s going to need them later. If you don’t stick with Ebron, he doesn’t bounce back with a solid game and a power TD. If you bench Diontae Johnson for dropping balls or running routes the wrong way, then he isn’t there for you to make a spectacular diving 39-yard TD catch that energized the entire roster.

Boom goes the dynamite.

You can see the tentative nature of Ben when he’s wondering if his receivers are going to stop/run the right route/be where he expects them to be. They are most definitely learning as they go. But… that learning and adjustment can really pay off. It requires patience and loyalty but the possibilities are incredible.

Their defense is limping home from the bombing run, shot up and leaking black oil smoke. Their run defense is patches on top of patches, hope, and dreams of getting Robert Spillane back. Their placekicker is nursing a hip injury that may never be right this season,.. and those are the good units on the team.
Heinz Field generously hosted the 13-15-year-old age bracket of the National Punt, Pass, & Kick semifinals.
Perhaps Randy Fichtner is a pusillanimous pussyfooter. Maybe Mike Tomlin’s influence on the offense is more like Spanish influenza. Maybe young receivers aren’t looking for the ball early enough nor running proper routes nor catching the ball confidently. Maybe the offensive line struggles to find consistency and maybe the running backs are tentative and pedestrian. Maybe ALL of that.
Randy Fitchner may also be mulishly obstructionist in domestic policy.
I see what you did there.

When their QB gets the keys and gets in a groove, NONE of that matters. At all. Still.

12-3, AFC Champs, mini bye next week, likely avoid Baltimore in the first round. Today was a GOOD day.