Originally posted on Blitzburgh Blog  |  Last updated 11/4/12
Early on, the game was embarrassing. The Steelers got hosed on 3 or 4 straight REALLY obvious bad calls, and you figured the Giants were just going to get their way in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.But then a funny thing happened. The Giants stopped getting those calls. The referees went quiet. The Steelers went back to playing football, and when you look at the game as a whole, the Giants were never even in it. Isaac Redman was dominant. Between him and Jonathan Dwyer, this spring will be very interesting for Rashard Mendenhall. He's coming up on free agency and if he has any kinds of large contract demands, he probably won't have them met.Speaking of people who are not in a position to demand money, Mike Wallace had another mostly-forgettable game. He did have a catch-and-run touchdown to bring the Steelers back into the game that really showcased his speed, but in terms of what he should make for his contributions, he's a lot closer to Dexter McCluster than he is to Larry Fitzgerald or Julio Jones. If he wants a giant contract next year, he can go get it somewhere else. He's not a complete wide receiver and he can't be the centerpiece of an offense. Unless he has a monstrous second half of the season, I don't think anyone will be too upset if he gets sent packing.Wallace looks even more expendable when you factor in the development of Emmanuel Sanders. When Antonio Brown left the game with a foot injury, Sanders stepped up. Mike Tomlin's mantra regarding injuries is that "the standard is the standard." Sanders clearly takes that message to heart. He made plays all night, both in the passing game and on special teams. He made himself a reliable target for Ben and once they got in a rhythm, the offense was a well-oiled machine.And how about Ben Roethlisberger? He is quietly having the best season of his career. There are some positions in sports in which a player is playing well when you don't hear his name. Offensive linemen are in this category. Stay-at-home defensemen are in this category. A baseball manager is in this category. When they're doing their jobs, you don't notice. Ben Roethlisberger is somehow playing the quarterback position to perfection with that same level of invisibility. The talk around games is never about the quarterback; it's about Antonio Brown and Heath Miller, it's about Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, it's about Todd Haley's playcalling, and it's rarely about Ben Roethlisberger. And yet, he's the Steelers' best, most consistent player this season. He isn't making mistakes (barring the occasional interception like he had on Sunday). He's just making plays. Or rather, he's letting his playmakers make plays. He's in total command of the offense, and it's running so well that you don't even notice its captain.Speaking of unsung heroes, the offensive line deserves credit. They have played so well in the past month or so and, as we've established, they aren't talked about. Are they perfect? Of course not. Are they playing well enough to win? Take a look at the Steelers' last three games. The line has played well, Ben has been upright, and the running game has exploded. Give credit where it's due. And get excited for David DeCastro next year. The line has shown its potential to be excellent and it isn't about to get worse.On the flip side, the defense was excellent. The Giants' receivers were non-factors, even when they were the beneficiaries of two horrendous calls in the first half. Ike Taylor was on Victor Cruz all night, but Ryan Clark may have been the one who really took him out of the game. After taking a thunderous blow to the ribs (15 yards for being Ryan Clark, automatic first down),  Cruz mysteriously avoided the traffic areas all night. Keenan Lewis was an all-pro for one game. Cortez Allen got on the field and provided support. Ike Taylor held onto an interception. The DBs were locking everything down, and for all the venom spewed in their direction in the first half of the year, they shut everyone up on Sunday afternoon. Maybe Will Allen really was the solution all along?Of course, much of this is only the result of one game, but it was a game the Steelers had to win. Now they sit at 5-3, and the other teams in the AFC wildcard race are really not very intimidating (San Deigo? Miami? Yeah, whatever). If the Steelers can stay on a good pace in the second half of the season, 10-6 or even 11-5 is realistic. Assuming Baltimore doesn't drop some trap games (and we know they're capable) then you can reasonably look forward to a playoff appearance for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And once you're in, everything is possible.Next week the Steelers will play host to the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that has not had a lead at any point during a game in the 2012 season (their lone win came on an overtime touchdown). This is what we call a "trap game." As soon as you underestimate a team, they have the advantage. Steeler fans know this by now. Let's see if Mike Tomlin can get his group focused after a huge win over the defending champions and how prepared they look next Sunday.After all, the only game that matters is the next one. 
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