Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Editor's Note: "Pittsburgh: Thru the Lens of Gary Gayda" will return next Tuesday.

ABOVE: Steeler fans are already watching the clock for Sunday at 1:00 when the Steelers have their showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Yes, that was some great beatdown that the Steelers layed on the Denver Broncos last night, winning 28-10. It was certainly one of the most enjoyable regular season games that a Steeler fan could ever watch. But while everyone was marveling at Mendenhall's rushing totals or Santonio's six catches, Hines Ward's two touchdowns, Ben's great game, or James Harrison's massive hit on Corelle Buckhalter, nearly everyone was missing out on the real story of this game: The Steeler's incredible depth.

For two weeks we were subjected to a heated debate on whether the Steelers should play Ryan Clark because of serious medical consequences he suffered the last time he played in Denver. I did not have a doubt in my mind that he would be held out as it turned out that he was. But while Clark's absence was being discussed, there was also plenty of hand-wringing over the absence of: Aaron Smith, Willie Parker and Lawrence Timmons. Fact of the matter, while all four are great players in their own right, the Steelers are such a strong team that even their backups are capable of starting for most teams in the league. 

Clark's backup, Tyrone Carter, had two interceptions with one returned for a key touchdown in the first half. Keyaron Fox, Timmon's replacement, was all over the field and had a great game. Willie Parker's replacement, Rashard Mendenhall, only had 159 yards rushing and looked terrific. Aaron Smith's second replacement, Nick Eason (backup Travis Kirshke was out with a calf injury) also played admirably in completely throttling Denver's running game.

What other National Football League team could have sustained such major losses to key players and gone into a stadium as difficult as Invesco Field and won so convincingly on Monday Night Football? The answer? None.

Oh, sure, teams will have injury replacements going on all the time, because it's part of the game. But there's usually a major dropoff in performance level. If anyone noticed a dropoff last night, would you please raise your hand? ...I didn't think so.

Last night's win quite clearly demonstrated that the Steelers are again the class of the NFL. They can beat you with skill, they can beat you with physicality, they can beat you with guile and all the while they will do it with an enthusiasm that is unmistakable Pittsburgh Steelers.

The greatest fan base in all of sports had another great night too. Am estimated 20,000 Steeler fans made their way across the country and reveled in the success that the "Terrible Towel" brings to the team wherever it goes.

These same fans and their beloved Steelers have a big game coming up against the Cincinnati Bengals at home this Sunday, a team that beat the Steelers early in the season. The Bengals, who have been playing well, most recently defeated the rapidly-falling Ravens.

While the Bengals are an improved team, for sure, unfortunately for them, they're now catching the Steelers at a very bad time. I expect the Steelers to have another exciting game this week with a similar second half "sleeper hold" like the one they put on Denver in the second half. I would expect a score in the 30-17 range. This Steeler team is too good. It also knows that a win over Cincinnati puts them in the drivers seat in the AFC North. These players also enjoy winning too much to want to stop doing it now. For Steeler fans everywhere it should be another gourmet feast.