As the dust settled in the aftermath of the Philadelphia debacle a week ago; Mike Tomlin made it clear to his team, the upcoming Sunday Night Game against the Kansas City Chiefs was going to be deemed “Redemption Sunday.”
There would be no tolerance of the lackluster, penalty filled, mistake prone play that was the theme of the theme of the day against the Eagles.
The offense would be asked to perform the way they are capable of, moving the football and putting up points. The Chiefs defense is in fact a solid one so this would be considered a taller task than it proved to be. The defense would be asked to pressure Alex Smith and penetrate the line, something that has eluded the team the first three weeks of the season.
The asks from Coach Tomlin and quite frankly the fan base alike, were legitimate.
The response by the team was immaculate.
Ben Roethlisberger was essentially flawless as he threw for 300 yards and five touchdown passes. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers, completing 22 of his 27 throws.
Five of those were completed to LeVeon Bell for 34 receiving yards in addition to his 18 carries for 144 yards. Ben was great and is my pick for Steeler player of the week but boy was it nice to see Bell back on the field in his first action since early last season delivering a performance that only the top back in the league could. With he, Ben and of course Antonio Brown playing together, this offense is the best in the league. Mix in Sammie Coates, who is starting to develop into the replacement this team sought for Martavis Bryant and a budding Jesse James, it’s hard not to see this team score 30 points each and every week.
But it wasn’t just the offense who delivered a stellar performance on Sunday night. The defense deserves its’ credit too. They pitched a shutout until the fourth quarter and they finally applied a lot of pressure to the QB, sacking Alex Smith four times. They only had one sack all season coming into the week so it’s certainly a relief to see the black and gold get back to the hard nosed style of football that generally defines them and links them to the blue collar city of Pittsburgh.
Three of those sacks were provided by Cam Heyward and perhaps more impressively, Vince Williams, starting at inside linebacker in place of the very talented yet oft injured Ryan Shazier added 16 tackles to lead the team.
If this team is able to consistently apply pressure the way they did against the Chiefs, the secondary weakness can be overcome as the ball won’t be in play downfield often enough to burn them. In the meantime, it was nice to see first round pick Artie Burns make a few big plays and continue his development into what many expect to be a long career as the Steelers number one corner.
The team now must keep their heads on their shoulders and utilize this fuel to continue their run but they must not ever forget the debacle in Philadelphia. That job falls on Mike Tomlin and as he did after the loss in Philadelphia, he must continue to apply “Redemption Sunday” because this team has serious talent and serious potential to reach epic heights but they need to remain focused and ready to play on a week in and week out basis.