The Pittsburgh Steelers, despite adversities, traveled across the country with an injury-ridden lineup, defeating the Los Angeles Chargers in a game closer to the scoreboard than on the field. You may have been able to stay relevant at AFC North.
Here are some observations from the game of the sixth week:
- The result of the game was a surprise, if we are honest. The Steelers never seem to live up to expectations when traveling to the West Coast. This truth has weighed on the franchise for years, and the heartbreaking loss to the pathetic Oakland Raiders squad last season is a perfect example of this. This year's Steelers team was able to oppose this disruptive trend for several reasons. First, this year's team does not meet the above expectations, which are usually associated with a Steelers squad during Mike Tomlin's term. Second, this team has a team-first mentality that runs through the locker room.
- Any ecstatic player interviewed after the match remarked that as a team, he committed to making the changes so that as much pressure as possible comes from the shoulders of QB Devlin "Duck" Hodges The game made his first NFL start of his career in a hostile environment.
- On the way to this perceived as hostile working environment happened for the young QB, who is affectionately known as Duck, a funny thing. The stadium was summarily taken over by Steelers Nation. The extraordinary announcer Al Michaels estimated that the stadium consisted of 75 percent Steelers fans. So much for the home advantage of the chargers. There were moments during the game when the large number of Steelers brothers present sounded louder than an actual home game with Heinz Field, as far as I could tell, sitting on the couch at home. This is a story for another day.
- The Steelers bravely tried to win the competition. The team's first mentality is impressive, and the selfless stance shown every week was a breath of fresh air. Players do not seem to care about who gets credit when things go according to plan, but gather around a person they believe is being judged unfairly. This way of thinking is a good sign for the Steelers organization, which is moving forward from this snake-bit season.
- Since this does not get in the way, I'd like to take a moment to spot some players who performed admirably despite such a rough start to the season, and unfortunately, one who plays has nothing to do with snuff.
- Cameron Sutton has arrived this season. Some players take longer than others to evolve. We all had teammates who barely played as newcomers but were valued as high-ranking employees. Some players need consistency and familiarity to find their niche and reach their potential. Others need improved talents that allow them to focus on their tasks. I think Sutton falls under these two categories. The improved team defense and new additions to Bush, Nelson and Fitzpatrick have allowed Sutton to focus on his best qualities as a solid slot cover CB. Obviously to excellent results.
- Anyone familiar with my articles knows that I'm not afraid to call it what I see it. After all, it's just my modest opinion. I try to be fair with any criticism, but always honestly. I had to eat my part of the humble cake. The next two players I want to mention made sure I ate more than my share this season.
- Tyler "Dirty Red" Matakevich has the best season of his young career. Dirty Red has always been known as the superior performer of a special team that offered very little as ILB. He always seemed to be one day late and a dollar too short. His speed and athletics were below average and he did not show the necessary football instincts to overcome these shortcomings. With his inevitable departure from the team in the distance Dirty Red found his game. Suddenly he appears faster and more assertive in space, and he has carried out the attacks he had previously missed. I do not shudder any more when I see him taking a break from a starter in our base defense. But I never want to see Matakevich and Vince Williams on the pitch at the same time. That's a recipe for disaster.
- Do not look now, but the Pittsburgh Steelers have an honest NFL punter. Yes, I'm referring to none other than Jordan Berry. For a long time, Berry was the figurehead of everything I thought was wrong with our not-so-special teams. I wholeheartedly believed that Danny Smith had no business coaching in the NFL when he could not see what a waste of oxygen berry actually was. While the jury still does not know about Smith's coaching skills, Jordan Berry has performed admirably so far this season. Significantly improved distance and hangtime with the naked eye. What has led to this revival of the career? Hopefully there will be no PED suspension soon. I would rather believe that there is an impressive beard because of this season. Maybe he caught some Keisel magic. Fear Da Beard!
- Eventually, a player's Steelers journey may be nearing the end. It saddens me to say that I'm a big fan of Ryan Switzer the man, but Ryan Switzer, the player, has to do a piece, and soon. This Steelers receiving core is not deep enough to carry a player who offers next to nothing as a receiver, particularly the James Washington breach and the monumental battles of Donte Moncrief. At least Moncrief could make a contribution against the Chargers by making a difficult reception on the sidelines.
- To make matters worse, Switzerland has not brought anything to the kick-return units that fought hard. That should be his bread and butter. The Steelers need more than a fair catch and a cloud of dust. The end can come sooner rather than later.