The Pittsburgh Steelers are an NFL franchise that is known for two main things: a punishing defense that shuts opponents down while effectively and consistently running the football down your throats. Well………I think after Sunday’s performance there might be a changing of the guard!
A suffocating defense and a solid ground game are what got it done on Sunday for the Arizona Cardinals and Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt in their 21-14 victory, their second straight win in the friendly confines of University of Phoenix Stadium. This was billed as a showdown between two teams that had great offensive weapons and the ability to put up points in a hurry. But in the end, it was the Cardinals defense along with a huge lift from the special teams that brought this one home.
The Cards brought relentless pressure on the QB, were tough against the run, and forced two Pittsburgh turnovers. And when it was all over, the Whiz walked off the field with his hand raised. Here were the keys to victory in this one:
1. The Defensive Line never let Big Ben breathe
I’ll bet Pittsburgh QB Ben Rothlesbirger is missing the team’s former O-Line coach and current Arizona Asst Head coach Russ Grimm right about now. After being sacked 4 times in the past 3 previous games, Arizona put Big Ben on his back 4 times on Sunday, although he avoided what seemed like at least 10 other sacks. DE Darnell Dockett was a monster, garnering in 3 of the 4 sacks.
2. Fast Willie Parker sure looked slow to me
The NFL’s leading rusher was held to 37 yards on 19 carries…..WOW!!! This defense can flat out play! They have not allowed a 100 yard rusher in the last 9 consecutive games going back to the 2006 season, and they have faced some pretty stellar competition. They held the eigth ranked offense to just 78 total yards on the ground. For all of the talk about Pittsburgh’s defense, it was the Cards D that came to play on Sunday.
3. After 14 years, we finally have a guy who can run one back
Well, I’ve been saying how important special teams are, and this weekend it was our turn to run one back! Rookie WR Steve Breaston took it to the house on a 73 yard punt return to start the 4th quarter off with a bang. This was exactly the reason we drafted him and he came through in a big way, and now the longest drought without a punt return for a TD in the NFL ends.
4. Cards get first 2 interceptions of the year – Adrian Wilson is my hero
After a bothced shotgun snap exchange between QB Kurt Warner and C Al Johnson, the Steelers had a first and goal opportunity on the 4 yard line in the third quarter with the score tied at 7-7. But after two plays and only 2 yards by Willie Parker, Big Ben tried a quick dump off pass to TE Heath Miller, and A-Dub stepped right in front of it for the pick in the endzone. The interception totally reversed the momentum and from then on the game was ours…..it was a thing of beauty
So now we are 2-2, heading to Missouri to take on the St. Louis Rams who now sit at 0-4. Don’t take this one lightly Cards!! But I think as long as our guys play the kind of game they did on Sunday, we have a chance to shock a lot of people this year. GO CARDS!!!