Saturday, August 18, 2007

Skins v. Steelers

11:35 first quarter - Offense looking good. Despite the one botched snap and a pair of stuffed running plays, they're moving the ball. Two really nice first-down conversions. They even had to decline a penalty! Moss catches another for a first down. Love it.

7:30 first quarter - That first drive may have died unspectacularly, but check that defense out. Was that pressure on Big Ben (real great, clever nickname) as he threw up a bomb with Landry and Rogers ably blanketing the Steelers' receivers? Was that a quick three-and-out after a pathetic dump-off first down? Starting D continues to impress.

4:33 first quarter - That guy's a bum. I'm even too mad to check on his name right now. This is why starting players should not play in the pre-season. Nay, this is why the pre-season should be banned altogether. What nonsense. BUT, did you notice how Jason Campbell, after going down following the cheap unnecessary low hit, paused to make sure his brilliant pass was completed to Chris Cooley before grasping his knee in pain? Possible DCO Hall of Fame material. Seeing him walk off the field afterwards was encouraging. Maybe the injury will be beneficial in the Chris Samuels/Clinton Portis vein, in that it will keep him off the field for the rest of these meaningless games. Still, might want to hold on to that Palmer lad, just in case. UPDATE: The bum's name is Brett Keisel. He is the devil, and his name almost ryhmes with that word. That play (and other low cheap shots) is the real reason roughing-the-quarterback penalties are called, and not the harmless touched-after-the-ball-was-thrown calls we've seen too much of in recent years.

1:32 first quarter - BRANDON LLOYD SCORES. Great catch. The starting offense comes through, perhaps silencing some critics as they strike against that legendary Steelers' D. Jason Campbell is avenged by Todd Collins. Was Al Saunders right?

15:00 second quarter - Rocky McIntosh with the sack! Were the thousands of fans calling for his insertion into the starting lineup last year right? Campbell's knee would seem to just be bruised. Let's all be optimistic shall we?

11:26 second quarter - A 59-yard punt. Special teams would seem to be in good shape.

11:18 second quarter - Andre Carter starting some serious pressure. Rocky McIntosh finishing it. D looks better and better.

7:55 second quarter - Chris Cooley stretching out and giving the second effort for a first down in a literally useless and unnecessary game. Offense still moving the ball against godlike Pittsburgh defense. 'Tism levels rising. What say you now, target="_blank">optimism-disdaining columnists?

5:40 second quarter - Another great punt. More great kick coverage. Time to sit the starters (preferably for two-and-a-half more games. The point has been made.

2:00 second quarter - There's a nice shot of Jason Campbell not in the hospital. Rather, he's comfortably sitting on the bench. So we can all truly relax. Everything's going to be fine. See you in early September, Jason.

0:46 second quarter - Rocky comes back from another brief injury scare and is in the middle of yet another defensive break-up. Carlos Rogers shows some tackling prowess. Presumably his catching of balls hitting him in the numbers is improved as well.

0:27 second quarter - Rocky McIntosh again. A play after getting called on one of those pathetic illegal contact penalties, he gets ridiculous untouched penetration and stuffs the run. Whether the Steelers score here or not is irrelevant. The first half has seen the official resurgence of the Skins D (confirming what we saw last week).

Halftime - How many plays did Pittsburgh have inside the 15 yard line? I don't know, but it was a lot to just come away with three lousy points. Defense looks spectacular again. That's no touchdowns against the starting (or reserve, or reserve-reserve) defense so far this pre-season. The starting offense strikes and moves reasonably well a few other times. Even for wild-eyed optimists such as ourselves, it's hard to look at this first half, the meaningful part of this game, as anything other than completely successful and a cause for hope for things to come.

8:23 third quarter - Collins: nothing but poise with nothing but time to throw on a third and long. Todd Yoder: yes, he's still here. Nice run after the catch.

6:05 third quarter - Suisham connects on an anything-but-a-gimme-48-yard field goal. There's one you can't chalk up to the they-were-playing-against-the-scrubs defense argument. Just another special teams success story from tonight.

7:17 fourth quarter - Sure, it's only the backups, but it's still a nice defensive stand to limit the opposition to a field goal. Perhaps it is "The System" after all. Still no touchdowns allowed this pre-season.

1:34 fourth quarter - Whether these are third or fourth or fifth string players, it's tremendously satisfying to see the defense trying desperately to not give up a single inch on the goal line late in the fourth quarter of an ultimately worthless game. Our faith in The System may be rivaling our faith in The Plan.

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