Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Post-Denver thoughts

Sorry these are so late, but after spending all night in the air and getting in at 5:30 a.m., the need for sleep took over.

I loved how the Steelers consistently attacked Denver All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey again and again.

Bailey has the reputation as a shut-down cornerback. But the Steelers tested him over and over.

Bailey finished with a team-high 12 tackles, which is not a good thing if you're a cornerback.

I asked Brett Keisel as we walked out of the stadium if the hometown officials - they're not really, but it works for this note - wanted to give him the sack trifecta with that ridiculous call late in the game on the pass he batted backwards.

But the fact was that Keisel's play helped set the tone in this one as Kyle Orton got less and less comfortable in the pocket.

Keisel's two sacks were the only ones the Steelers had, but they were in Orton's face from the second quarter on once Dick LeBeau realized the Broncos were not going to could not? test the Steeler deep.

Denver is a fraud. That will be a team that will be fortunate to finish this season with nine wins.

They're not bad, but they're also not going anywhere with Kyle Orton at quarterback.

I could be wrong about that since Denver gets four gimmee wins because of the division in plays in, but San Diego is going to win the AFC West.

Rashard Mendenhall is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and just hit the 100-carry mark for the season Monday night.

Many people will focus on his long runs, but I was much more impressed when he hammered the ball into the line early in the game, getting positive yards each time.

He still goes to that spin move a little too often, but he's starting to get it.

Troy Polamalu continues to amaze me.

On one play late in the game, he lined up outside of the left tackle and at the snap took off across the field and covered wide receiver Brandon Stokley in the right flats, covering a good 50 yards before Orton could get the ball there.

It was something only Polamalu does.

What makes the Steelers so good?

Three defensive starters were out and it looked like the exact same defense that has taken the field in the first seven games this season.

In fact, the replacements perhaps outplayed the usual starters.

Keyaron Fox, starting for Lawrence Timmons, was everywhere helping shut down Denver's running game and finished with a team-high seven tackles.

Tyrone Carter, starting in place of Ryan Clark, picked off a pair of passes at free safety, taking one of them to the end zone.

And while the stat line says that Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood combined for just one tackle subbing for Travis Kirschke at defensive end, they were very disruptive.