Tuesday, September 30, 2008

STEELERS WIN "PYRRHIC" VICTORY


Yeah, That Looks Broken To Me

The Steelers won a critical matchup against their AFC North rival the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in overtime last night on "Monday Night Football". While the win was a true gut call for the Steelers offense, it was a costly victory from an injury standpoint.

On the opening kickoff, backup linebacker Andre Frazier sustained a vicious blindside hit that resulted in a significant injury and subsequent game delay as trainers needed to immobilize his spine and remove him from the field via the "meat wagon". The report later on Frazier was that he was moving his limbs, but further diagnosis of the injury was not yet available.

In the first half, rookie first round draft choice, Rashard Mendenhall, subbing for the injured Willie Parker (sprained knee) suffered a fractured shoulder and is now lost for the year. Also lost was guard Kendall Simmons who sustained an ankle injury. For a team that has been struggling mightily along the offensive line, that news was definitely not good.

The Ravens suffered injuries too, as the hitting was intense throughout the contest. Running back Willis Magahee left for a time with a severely bruised chest.

One of the true bright spots in the game was the intense defense displayed by the Steelers outside linebackers, Lamar Woodley and James Harrison who were pressuring rookie quarterback Joe Flacco all night long. Flacco, who transferred from Pitt after losing the quarterback sweepstakes to Tyler Palko, looked very impressive last night. As he gains NFL experience, he should become a force to be reckoned with. Baltimore's search for a quarterback may finally be over, and that's not good news for the rest of the division.

The game was a testament to the Steelers' will to win as they truly left everything they had on the field. After allowing a late game-tying touchdown (the Ravens have a lot of that "no quit" in them too), they subsequently lost the coin toss for overtime yet managed to hold back the Ravens offense and ultimately win via a Jeff Reed 43 yard field goal that barely missed the right upright.

At 12:30 a.m. the Steelers faithful celebrated a costly win. It would be hard to imagine where the team would be emotionally today had they lost this game amid the injuries they ultimately will take with them into Sunday's matchup against a tough Jacksonville team. The NFL season is truly a battle of attrition. Hopefully in winning this battle, the team didn't ultimately lose the war.

GAME NOTES: Once again the physical play of Hines Ward was in great evidence as was that of his protege' Santonio Holmes. Holmes is rapidly developing a "Ward-like" nastiness and propensity for laying out opponents...Big Ben reportedly "lost it" in the locker room at halftime, asking his offensive teammates, "What the ...are you doing?" The offense, which played a dismal first half responded by stepping up the protection and production in the second half...How about Lamar Woodley? He intercepts, he sacks, he returns fumbles for touchdowns. We are seeing the emergence of the next major defensive force in the NFL. His counterpart, pro-bowler James Harrison, gives the Steelers the finest set of outside linebackers in the league.