By Scott Brown
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Alan Faneca is used to it by now, the emotions of a Steelers-crazed area going up and down like a yo-yo, last rites on the team getting administered or championship status being granted by radio-listening folks driving home from work.
But even the veteran offensive lineman couldn't help but smile when thinking how much had changed in one day. Or, more accurately, how much perception had changed following the Steelers' 45-7 win Sunday over the Kansas City Chiefs.
That victory, coupled with losses by AFC North rivals Baltimore and Cincinnati, left the Steelers just one game behind the Ravens and Bengals in the loss column.
"One week, we're done. We might as well start packing our bags and heading home," said Faneca, the All-Pro guard who is in his ninth season with the Steelers. "The next week, all of the sudden, we're in the mix of it again."
What may have gotten a little lost in the euphoria that followed the Steelers' first win in more than a month is how an offensive line that had been maligned dominated the Chiefs.
The Steelers (2-3) piled up 219 yards rushing, while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed all but three of his 19 pass attempts for 238 yards and two touchdowns and only was sacked once.
"I thought our line did a heck of a job," said Steelers coach Bill Cowher, whose team visits the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Running back Willie Parker found enough room to rush for 109 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to Najeh Davenport, who added 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
"That's the Pittsburgh Steelers I watched in the past," Davenport said.
Indeed, a robust running attack has become as associated with the Steelers as the "Terrible Towel," and the ground game hinges on the effectiveness of players such as Faneca.
The only time it seemed like the Steelers weren't pushing the Chiefs around Heinz Field came early in the fourth quarter, when three running plays netted a yard.
With the Steelers facing fourth down from the Chiefs 1-yard line, Cowher opted to go for it. Davenport scored, though it took instant replay to reverse a call on the field that he had been stopped short of the end zone.