QB: Ben was up and down today. The INT looked to be the same play as the Holmes TD last week. A poor throw, as the safety never bit on the pump fake to the opposite side of the field. Ben also threw a sideline out pass in the red zone that should have been picked off and returned for 6, but Bills CB Jabari Greer dropped the ball. On the other hand, the TD pass to Spaeth was nice. As stated by Ben, on that play he went through his progressions and was able to put the ball only where Spaeth could catch it.
RB: Parker was great. He consistently churned out yardage and most importantly didn’t put the ball on the ground. Davenport ran hard as well. Carey Davis made some nice blocks to spring Willie for a few big runs.
WR: Nate Washington led the way with 3 grabs for 60 yards. But he is one of the most inconsistent wide receivers in the league. He dropped an easy catch across the middle, but then followed it up with a leaping grab where he got pummeled by two Bills defenders. He’ll drop the easy ones, and catch the hard ones. Ward had his usual workmanlike day both run blocking and catching, and came oh so close to catching his 2nd TD of the season. Holmes showed some nice moves on his catch over the middle that put the Steelers inside the 5. Wilson came up with only one catch, but it was a dandy that sustained a Steelers drive. This group is as solid and deep as there is in the NFL.
TE: Nice to see them involved in the passing game again. Heath had a nice gainer the play before Parker’s TD run. Speaking of Parker’s TD run, Spaeth had an excellent block to cave his man and open up the running lane.
OL: It’s been awhile since Ben had that much time to throw. They seem to be gelling, as they performed well both in the run and pass game. Colon got knocked on his ass one play, and literally tackled his man on Heath’s aforementioned catch (inexplicably, there was no holding call). He redeemed himself on the next play, joining Spaeth in crushing his man (that would be Paul Poszluzny, Sam) to create Willie’s lane. Apparently, from what I’ve been reading, Kendall Simmons had his best game as a Steeler. That’s when you know it’s been a good day for the OL.
DL: Another solid day. They are the reason why teams seldom run on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Aaron Smith is one of the best 3-4 DE’s against the run, and Casey Hampton just clogs up the middle. Both showed their worth again today.
LB: Similar to last week, another fine effort. Before his injury, Harrison was absolutely playing lights out. He absolutely destroyed Bills LT Jason Peters on one play, essentially bull rushing him into J.P. Losman, and then collected the sack. It should be noted that Peters is no slouch, and is considered a rising star at the left tackle position. Haggans created some nice pressure, such as on one play where he forced a holding call and still got the sack. Farrior was his usual steady self, bottling up Marshawn Lynch. Woodley came in for Harrison in the 2nd half, and as noted by CBS broadcaster Solomon Wilcots, seemed to be lost in coverage on a catch by Peerless Price. With time, he’ll get better.
DB: Troy hasn’t really shown up in the stat sheet, but his mere presence allows LeBeau to do so much. Ike followed Lee Evans most of the day and shut him down. Townsend has validated Tomlin’s decision to give him the starting nod opposite Taylor, but it’s nice to have a guy in McFadden who can step in when needed. They’ve started platooning Clark and Smith at the FS spot. Interesting decision, but both deserve playing time and neither should be rotting on the bench.
Special Teams: The good: Jeff Reed converting 4 FG’s. Obviously, he meant it when he agreed with me that he could kick 50 FG’s this year. Sepulveda made his one punt count, downing it inside the 10. The bad: coverage unit was spotty on McGee’s long return, although it was clear McGee stepped out of bounds near the Bills 30. How the referees missed that, I don’t know.
Coaching: Another fine job. Not much more needs to be said. They have the guys prepared and ready to go.
Summary: Another good win, and the level of competition keeps increasing slightly. The 49ers boast Frank Gore, one of the best backs in the NFC. I’m worried about Vernon Davis, as the Steelers defense always seems to let the TE hurt them in the passing game. The 49ers D is pretty good, too, led by early defensive rookie of the year candidate Patrick Willis. Should be a good game, but I expect another Steelers victory.
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