Last night's slugfest was a much anticipated defensive battle, for the most part. A low scoring affair between two good teams that shouldn't have ever made it into overtime. The Steelers seem to be the same exact team they were last season, pulling wins out of their butts in the waning seconds of a game, poor running game supported with a weak backfield, and a quarterback who just loves holding onto the ball. They had no business winning that game last night for two reasons:
1) The Titans played an overall better game.
2) Bironas usually nails every freakin field goal he is allowed to kick, we Colts fans know this all too well. Therefore I say it was a fluke!
Obviously I'm glad the Titans lost because that gives the Colts a chance to jump out to a quick start and take claim to the division lead. But with that said, there were a few key events that took place last night that I believe are worthy of reviewing. Some of which don't directly affect the Colts but most do in one way or another, so let's take a look.
1. The Madden curse is the real deal holyfield
If for some reason you were hesitant on believing in the Madden curse then I suggest you come over to the dark side. Just like clockwork Polamalu suffered an MCL strain, sidelining him for up to 6 weeks. An injury that should have never happened because any smart coach does not play starters on special teams.
Anytime someone is affected by the Madden curse it's like watching Final Destination. You don't know when or how it's going to get them but it is inevitable; they will suffer the consequences.
After I saw Polamalu go down, I prayed that no Colts player ever be subjected to the horror that is being on the Madden cover.
You're next Fitzy. IT'S COMING! YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE!
2. Chris Johnson is riduclesly good
Please tell me I'm not the only one who saw C.J. put that juke move on Woodly out in the flat? That was disgusting. C.J. ended the night with 57 yards on 15 carries (3.8ave). All things considered, that's a pretty decent showing against "the greatest defense evar". A touchdown would have be icing on the cake and would have made me more happy considering I have him on one of my fantasy teams, but oh well.
Speaking of fantasy, if you passed on C.J. for someone like Steven Jackson then I mock you.
3. A weakness of the Steelers defense has been spotted, and on national television no less
This technically isn't news to us, seeing as though Dominic Rhodes caught the game winning touchdown against the Steelers last season on an out and up route, but the Steelers are very weak at defending the sidelines in the passing game. Kerry Collins was ripping into them with the corner and out routes and the Steelers couldn't stop it. You would think the immortal Dick LeBeau would have told his corners to change from inside technique to straight up man, but he never did. All of the Titans' big pass plays came on routes designed for the outside, or near the sidelines. Kenny Britt's big catch came on a go route on the outside. Justin Gage's touchdown was a similar route on the outside. Up until Booooooo Scaife got hurt, he was having a field day catch passes in the flat.
The good news for the Colts is that Reggie Wayne runs these types of routes almost better than any receiver in the league. As I mentioned earlier, the Colts beat the Steelers last season because of this weakness in in the Steelers coverage scheme. So if the playoffs roll around and the Colts have to play the Steelers, I feel very confident that the Colts would be able to pass at will on these guys much like Collins did last night.
4. Speaking of soft defenses, what the hell happened to the Titans' secondary in second half?
The Titans were having a lot of success blitzing in the first half. The Steelers running game was non-existent, and Roethlisberger wasn't able to do much in the passing game either (not including the TD after the 2 minute warning). Come second half, the Titans were playing a soft Cover 2, almost like a prevent defense and Roethlisberger went to work on their face. Apparently the Titans' defense this season is a very vanilla version, not only that, but their secondary is seriously overrated. They have basically 3 schemes: Cover 2 blitz, Cover 2 man, prevent. All three of those defenses are going to get them torched when they play the Colts, which is a good thing.
Their run defense is a completely different story. That d-line is very stout. They seemed to get penetration on every run play that I saw, which could be a huge problem for the Colts, or could it? I suppose we could just abandon the running game and play from the spread formation all game and light them up since the Titans couldn't cover anything.
5. The Steelers won't win another championship this season, not with that running game (or lack thereof)
The Steelers' running game looked eerily similiar to the Colts' last season. There were no holes for any of the backs to run through and Willie Parker looked like he was auditioning to be Addai's partner on Dancing With the Stars. There's no way the Steelers are going to be successful for an entire season and through the playoffs if they have to constantly rely on Big Ben to get them out of jams like that. He'll either get killed or throw 100 interceptions first. Peyton Manning he is not.
6. The Titans won't win the AFC South this season
As I mentioned earlier, the Titans played a good game and they are a good team, but they aren't that good. This loss cripples them and their chances of taking claim to the division title for the second year in a row. The Colts are hosting the Jaguars this Sunday, and if they win, they'll be up one game on the Titans with a division opponent as their first victim. The Titans are hosting the Texans in week two, and if the Texans somehow defeat them, the Colts will be in a great position to reclaim their throne, that is if they start out on fire like in the past.
Fortunately, the Colts are going into the season opener as healthy as ever, so realistically, their chance to take claim to the division again is all but there for the taking.