New Castle News

Sports

November 5, 2012

Steve Treu: All signs point to Steelers as a legit contender

NEW CASTLE — The Pittsburgh Steelers were a crossed “t” and a dotted “i” away from a signature win yesterday in East Rutherford.

Several players would be deserving of autographing their impressive 24-20 victory over the New York Giants, the kind that ends up prominently featured on the team’s season highlights DVD.

Perhaps Ike Taylor would be the ideal choice to do the signing, what with an “i” and a “t” both prominently featured in his name. Also because he had his first interception since junior high and his defensive backfield was stellar against a dangerous Giants passing attack.

Game-breaking wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, who had averaged 158 yards per game together and hauled in eight touchdowns between them so far this year, were shut down by Taylor and friends. The dynamic duo was a dud, combining for just six catches, 77 yards and no scores.

Lawrence Timmons could take the signature honors, what with his surname beginning with the requisite letters. He was among the guys who led the charge up front, nailing Eli Manning for an 11-yard sack and helping the defense blank the Giants in the fourth quarter while the offense stormed from behind.

That was no small feat, as the Giants had scored in 26 straight fourth quarters — the second-longest streak in the league since 1940.

Ben Roethlisberger also has a “t” and an “i” in his last name, so he could co-sign. He had one hideous interception, but other than that, he was his typical brilliant self.

Roethlisberger was at his best in the fourth quarter, directing the offense to 14 points on 6-of-8 passing for 99 yards and a touchdown. His 16-yard laser to Emmanuel Sanders on third-and-9 just before the two-minute warning clinched the victory.

Contrast that to Manning, he of the epic big-game comebacks and NFL-record 15 touchdowns thrown in the fourth quarter last season. The guy who was picked 10 spots ahead of Roethlisberger in the 2004 draft was 10 times less effective than his counterpart yesterday, hitting on just 10 of 24 attempts for 125 yards and no scores.

Roethlisberger’s rating was a crisp 98.8, while Manning’s was a lowly 41.4. You basically get a 39.6 rating for just showing up.

But the clear winner here is Isaac Redman. He should be the primary signatory on this one despite no “t” in his name, unless he happens to be Isaac Wolverton Redman, whom Google reports was born in 1826.

The latter Redman fought in the Civil War, and his namesake was a football hero for the Black-and-Gold in the Meadowlands.

Redman, filling in for the injured Jonathan Dwyer who was filling in for the injured Rashard Mendenhall who got healthy for a moment and took over for Redman who had been filling in for the injured Mendenhall, plowed through New York’s Super Bowl-winning defense for 147 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

(Which begs the question, why bother with a fake field goal? You want Shaun Suisham trying to gain a yard there or Redman? Here’s a suggestion: next time, pound it in!)

Whether it is Redman or Dwyer back there, the Steelers have apparently rediscovered the power running game that had been missing since Isaac Wolverton Redman was running around a real field of battle.

Pittsburgh has now piled up 167, 140 and 158 yards in their last three games. Who says this is a passing team?

Even the special teams matched the quality of the offense and defense with several big returns (though Sanders should be a bit embarrassed by the opposing punter’s two-hand-touch tackle that brought him down after his 63-yard run back).

While Baltimore was struggling in Cleveland, the Steelers were asserting themselves as a legitimate contender in the AFC. Had a few questionable penalties not been called and had Roethlisberger’s pinky not moved ever so slightly on the fumble that was returned for a touchdown, this one would have been more like a 31-13 signature win.

As it was, perhaps the Steelers still have an even-better “statement” game left in them. Perhaps when Troy Polamalu returns?

Perhaps in two weeks against the Ravens on Sunday night at Heinz Field?

(Steve Treu covers the Steelers for The News.)

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