We Panic After Wins Now?: A Week 6 Analysis

The popular headline for the Steelers’ 17-13 win over the Jaguars was that Pittsburgh “hung on” to secure the win.

However, if you were actually watching the game, you know the win was anything but close.

The score may indicate that the Jaguars actually had a realistic chance of winning this game, but in reality the Steelers were close to putting up their most dominant performance of the season before they seemed to lose their focus midway through the third quarter.

Before that, however, the Steelers showed why people are beginning to believe in them again, and several players really stood out.

  • Mike Wallace: Wallace only notched two catches for 78 yards, but his effect on the game can’t accurately be described by stats. Part of the reason the game didn’t devolve into as much as a blowout as it should’ve been was because Wallace wasn’t able to get to several deep passes thrown his way. Ben seemed erratic throwing the deep ball, missing both Wallace and Sanders several times for what could’ve been huge plays. When he did connect with them, the offense scored at will, so it’s hard to fault him too much. It seemed as if the loss of Doug Legursky in the second quarter greatly affected the pass game, as Ben had a pretty clean pocket for most of the game, but really started to feel the pressure in the second half as he took 3 sacks on the day. Nevertheless, Wallace was behind the defense all day, and he was a huge part of the offense’s success even when he wasn’t catching passes.

  • LaMarr Woodley: With Harrison out, everyone was expecting Woodley to step up in a big way, and he looked dominant yesterday. The Jaguars’ offensive line is pretty porous, but he manhandled it with two sacks and three tackles for loss. If Polamalu misses the next game with the “concussion like symptoms” he supposedly possesses, then the pressure will be even greater on Woodley, but with another bad line to go up against in Arizona, I have total confidence in him.

  • Rashard Mendenhall: Last week, I was pretty critical of Mendenhall, and glad to see Redman and Dwyer take his place. However, he really proved me wrong this week, and I couldn’t be happier. The Jaguars aren’t great against the run, but they aren’t terrible either, coming in at 19th in the league, but he made them look pathetic. He ran with purpose, averaging 6.4 yards a carry, and his 68-yard dash reminded everyone why he’s the starter in Pittsburgh. The line opened up some nice holes for him, but he stopped dancing behind the line so much and it resulted in a lot of big gains. I feel great about our running game right now, and that’s a sentence I haven’t uttered about the Steelers in years.

A lot of people are going to point to this game as a cause for concern about the Steelers, but I’m not one of them.

Tomlin expressed that he wasn’t thrilled about the performance, and it’s understandable why he feels that way, but this was a pretty typical Steelers performance.

A veteran team tends to lose focus after playing such a dominant two and a half quarters, so the lack of offensive production in the second half doesn’t worry me.

Neither do the 133-yards allowed on the ground. We know that team’s run defense just isn’t the same this year, and with the number of injuries they’ve had recently, this deficiency makes sense. The Jags are actually averaging the 10th most rushing yards per game, and the team held them to gain just 10 yards over their 122-yard average. It’s concerning, but this isn’t breaking news.

Facing Arizona on the road may prove to be more of a challenge than some might think considering the team’s long history with Whisenhunt and the rest of what’s become “Pittsburgh West.”

However, the Cards don’t have much of running game, and Kevin Kolb seems ready to help the Steelers improve on their shoddy interception numbers.

It’s all leading up to the team’s big matchup with New England two weeks from now. While people are ready to panic after this week, I’d advise waiting until the inevitable loss to the Patriots to do so.

Until then, just enjoy that the team is winning.

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