A St. Louis Shut Out: A Week 16 Analysis and Some Postseason Thoughts

After a tough loss to one NFC West opponent, the Steelers’ 27-0 win over the St. Louis Rams was a nice palate cleanser.

Even with key players like Roethlisberger and Pouncey missing, the team was able to put together their second shut out of the season, and looked efficient while doing so.

It has to be mentioned that the Rams are the second worst team in the league by all standards, and may even be worse than the Indianapolis Colts now that Dan Orlovsky has found his mojo, but it still feels nice to see Pittsburgh put together such a complete win.

Mendenhall and the running game looked particularly effective, although against the worst run defense in the league, I could probably have suited up for the Steelers and gotten a couple of first downs. Nevertheless, he hadn’t topped 100 yards in a game since week 5 against the Jaguars, and he still looked fresh despite his sore ribs.

Redman continues to look good, and I am wholeheartedly in favor of the team continuing to make use of him when Mendenhall goes cold. Even little used John Clay got a touchdown on the lone carry of the game, proving beyond a doubt that the Rams really couldn’t stop a senior citizen in the run game, but it was still nice to see Clay have a good moment.

Mike Wallace also had a nice little game. He’s been quiet recently, but if Charlie Batch can still do one thing well, it’s throw a nice deep ball, and Wallace was able to take advantage. His longest catch didn’t end up being a touchdown, but it’s crucial he continues this trend and get back to stretching the field as the playoffs roll around.

My concerns from after the 49ers game about Troy still linger, but he looked good, as did the returned James Harrison. Both of these old reliable defensive players are going to have put pressure on opposing offenses to not forget about them if the team is to be successful in January.

Overall, Batch managed the game well, and the defense looked as excellent as always, and they were rewarded with another shut out of an NFC West team. Pittsburgh was able to go 3-1 against their opponents from that forsaken division, so a tip of the cap surely has to go the league’s schedule makers for gifting the team with the West teams to face this year.

A visit to Cleveland will round out the regular season for the Steelers next week, and while Roethlisberger’s status is uncertain, it should be fairly easy work for the team.

Perhaps instead of game planning for this one, Tomlin and company should focus on sabotaging the Ravens as they take on the Bengals. It’s certainly a winnable game for Cincinnati, who is very much in the hunt for the final playoff spot, and came close to beating the Ravens on the road and are now at home for this one. Besides, in a meaningful situation on the road, I will never discount Joe Flacco’s ability to screw up when it matters most. As a side note, I’ve begun using “Flacco” has a verb for when someone messes up something easy. I actually remarked several times during the 49ers game that Alex Smith was “Flacco-ing” some his short passes, and it made perfect sense in context. Let’s make it a trend.

Anyway, I know I’ll certainly be rooting for the Bengals on Sunday. And yes, that’s sentence I never thought I’d write. While playing the AFC West would hardly be the end of the world, I’d still much prefer to rest for a week and steal the division out from under Baltimore.

So go Bengals, and it should be a fun end to the season.

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