The Latest Steelers Buzz
**The Pittsburgh Steelers today inched closer to their third AFC North title in four years, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-7 on Sunday afternoon at Hein Field, improving to 10-3 on the season.
Winners of four straight, the win was of much significance because it was a division win. Pittsburgh moves to 4-1 in the division and 8-2 in the conference.
The second tiebreaker with the 8-4 Baltimore Ravens who play Monday night against Houston is divisional record. Baltimore is currently 2-2 in the division and 6-3 in the conference.
**The Steelers on defense have their swagger back. They are getting to the quarterback and have become more aggressive in recent weeks. It also doesn’t hurt that Troy Polamalu is back to being a dynamic playmaker and game changer.
Assuming Polamalu can stay healthy, this defense is peaking at the right time.
As I wrote following the New England loss, what will dictate the Steelers success in 2010 is matchups. The only clear matchup problem for Pittsburgh in the AFC is the New England Patriots. They matchup extremely well against the rest of the field.
Steelers coaches believe what happened weeks ago against New England won’t happen again if there’s a rematch.
Taking away the expectations before the season, as things are shaping up now, not getting to the AFC Championship will be a disappointment.
**Pittsburgh has serious redzone problems but an underrated stat from today’s performance was the offense having 34:31 in time of possession. Still need to get points but almost 35 minutes in time of possession can’t be overlooked. However, this offense has to get better as the playoffs inch closer.
**Penalties (9-89) killed a lot of drives today and Pittsburgh got poor play from their offensive line. Even Maurkice Pouncey had a down game. It will be interesting to see how he finishes this year. Being a very young rookie at age 21 and never going through a grueling NFL season, it’s something to watch.
**What an addition Shaun Suisham has been. Suisham was 3-for-3 on field goals today that included another 40+ yarder, making a 41 yard field goal in the 4th quarter.
Suisham is now 9 of 9 on field goals in four games and a perfect 9 of 9 on point-after attempts. He’s made the Steelers a better team.
**Hines Ward is showing a lot of signs of slowing down this season but he still finds ways to get it down. Ward torched the Bengals in the middle of the field, leading the Steelers with 8 receptions for 115 yards and was targeted 10 times.
Other things I like with the passing game is getting Mike Wallace more involved in the short passing game. Wallace had 5 receptions for 78 yards and was targeted 9 times.
I have also really liked what I’ve seen from Antonio Brown whose getting more involved in quick passing routes.
Antwaan Randle El who continues to see minimal playing time and has been surpassed by Brown in most formations at the No. 4 spot, made a phenomenal 22 yard one handed grab in the middle of the field. Randle El has also been a great mentor to the young guys. It was good to see him make a big play.
**If Pittsburgh finishes 13-3, Mike Tomlin should be the NFL coach of the year.
**This is the time of year where LaMarr Woodley heats up. He had a pick-6 and 2 sacks today giving him 8.5 sacks on the season.
**James Farrior’s resurgence has been one of the biggest surprises this season. His playing at a probowl level and led the Steelers with 10 tackles today.
**Brett Keisel delivered some crushing hits and had 6 total tackles and 4 solo tackles. Good to see him back at full health.
**Rashard Mendenhall had 66 yards on 18 carries. Not a dominant game by any means but he ran hard for his yards today.
**Troy Polamalu is not only getting serious consideration as a front runner for defensive player of the year but his name is even cropping up in the MVP discussion.