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Bleeding Black and Gold: Smashed mouths

September 16, 2012 - Ray Eckenrode

The score: Pittsburgh 27, New York Jets 10

The headline: A WORLD OF HURT: Steelers punish Jets on both sides of the ball, pound out first win

The bottom line: After a sluggish start, Pittsburgh made a statement Sunday, knocking the Jets sideways in a hand fighting, bell ringing, bull rushing, home opening win.

It was over when: It’s impossible to pick a single turning point on the Steelers’ game-clinching, back-breaking, 10-minute, 75-yard, 14-play drive. Was it Antonio Brown’s tough-as-nails third-down grab? Or Heath Miller’s acrobatic clock drainer? Or any of several third-effort rushes by Isaac Redman? In any event, that was a drive you can build a season around.

Play of the day: There were Super Bowl flashbacks when Ben Roethlisberger heaved a desperation 3rd-and-16 pass Mike Wallace’s way midway through the third quarter. And although the distance was farther (in this case, 37 yards), the acrobatic toe touch for a score was eerily familiar.

Hot topics:

+ Lawrence Timmons’ helmet-to-helmet hit on Mark Sanchez drew a penalty flag and will no doubt draw a fine from the NFL, but is arguably was the play of the game as Sanchez was never the same after the play. Just another example of how difficult it will continue to be to try and legislate violence out of a barbaric sport. Timmons, by the way, played one of his best overall games as a Steeler on Sunday.

+ Often times, a commitment to running the football means you have to live with a lot of +2, or even -2, plays early to set up both bigger runs and play-action passes later in the game. The Steelers displayed that dynamic perfectly Sunday with both Redman and Jon Dwyer finding little room early but bulldozing late.

+ Ben Roethlisberger really has not been ultra-sharp yet throwing the football, but he remains absolutely beastly in dodging rushes and extending plays, doing that probably a dozen times Sunday, something that absolutely has to suck the life out of an opposing defense.

+ As some of you are no doubt aware, WTAJ stuck with the Eagles-Ravens game to conclusion (plus about a five-minute postgame commercial block) and missed about two-thirds of the first quarter of the Steelers game. We’re guessing they were required to do that by NFL regs, likely being quantified as a home-market Eagles station with the end of a game taking precedence over the beginning of another home-market game. Either that or someone fell asleep.

+ LaMarr Woodley was right.

Game (mis)management:

+ There’s not a lot to discuss here with the exception of the early use of timeouts in both halves, but we’ll let that slide for a few more weeks considering the installation of the new offense under Todd Haley

In the booth:

+ First, we warned you all to go straight to the radios.

+ Those who stuck to the TV audio got the usual subtle anti-Steelers rhetoric from Jim Nantz. In the first half, with referees clearly signaling touchback, Nantz took us into a timeout proclaiming the Jets had downed a punt at the 5. Then, about midway through the third quarter, Nantz’s voice elevated with alarm, telling us “Sanchez is hit down low by Woodley and Timmons.” Replay, of course, told a different story as neither player touched Sanchez anywhere below the waist. And what would a Steelers-Nantz game be without him calling for an unwarranted (and in this case, totally nonexistent) illegal hit penalty on Ryan Clark?

+ Credit where it’s due, CBS didn’t go overboard on Tim Tebow. It probably helped that he didn’t really play.

Zebra hunting:

+ White hat Jerry Frump’s crew was comically (only in retrospect after a win) inept, confusing penalty names, calling phantom penalties and inventing new penalties (snap encroachment, anyone?). With roughly 85 percent of the nation seeing the game, might this be the tipping point in getting the real (and somewhat less confused) officials back in the saddle?

+ The pass interference rules are the most difficult to administrate in the NFL and it’s certainly what the regular officials struggle with the most. So it’s no surprise that PI, holding and illegal contact calls and administration seems to be the place where the replacements are most lacking.

A word from our sponsors: With the proliferation of TV channels, there are easily more than 100 new shows premiering this fall. That means there are at least 100 more shows that were in development and not selected to air. For each of those 100 new shows, there are hundreds of commercials running. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into television entertainment and 80 of those shows won’t exist in 13 weeks. It’s insane.

Sweet tweet: “@ktorgent: ‘Renegade’ is playing in Heinz Field, apparently to empower the defense to not let up three scores in the next 3:34.”

Next week: The Steelers complete the pre-bye portion of their schedule by traveling to the left coast to face their old friend Carson Palmer and the Raiders in the Oakland County Coliseum and its infamous Black Hole. Pittsburgh lost 20-13 in their last visit to Oakland in 2006. We already know we won’t see James Harrison next week and do not be surprised if Troy Polamalu is a no-go again to give his calf a full month to heal.

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