This also appears on my blog.
Great showing by the Steeler offensive line today. Max Starks looked strong in his return to the team, and that has to be sweet relief for Steeler fans. I'm tired of seeing Ben run for his life, so it was nice to see him get some time out there today.
Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer had a strong day as a dual threat running attack. Dwyer's 76 yard run was the longest run by a Steeler since Willie Parker took it to the house in Super Bowl XL.
Big Ben threw for five touchdowns and really the only mistake I saw out of him was the missed communication interception he threw at the end of the first half. Other than that outstanding work by the Steeler signal caller.
We finally saw Hines Ward get reacquainted with the offense, and it was huge. Not only did he have several big catches and two touchdowns, but you saw him making key blocks downfield to spring the rest of the receivers. Good to see him focused and productive.
Defensively, the Steelers didn't seem to miss James Harrison, Aaron Smith or Casey Hampton. Chris Hoke had a strong day at the nose tackle position, blowing up multiple Chris Johnson scampers and allowing the linebackers to make plays again.
It's no coincidence that LaMarr Woodley had his finest day this year because of the strong play in front of him.
Even the coaching staff had one of their best games of the year. The fake punt call was a huge momentum boost for the offense and really seemed to carry the day. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians finally woke up and started calling some short passing routes which in turn opened up the running game and gave Roethlisberger more time to make decisions.
It was a strong game all around for the Steelers and a nice change of pace from last week's disaster by the O-Line.
It also adds to my frustration with how stubborn this coaching staff has been. It took three awful games by the offensive line to finally force the team to re-sign Max Starks. It took those same three awful outputs to prove to coach Arians he needed to alter his offensive scheme.
At least we're finally seeing glimpses of what the Steelers showed us in the preseason. Maybe the team is finally getting on track.
Better late than never.
The Steelers wrap up their tour of the AFC South next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gametime will be 1:00 PM at Heinz Field.