On Second Thought: Dophins @ Steelers
By Homer J.
THE YOUNG AND THE AGELESS
Some things will survive the nuclear holocaust. Cockroaches. Cher. The Sheetz Schmiscuit. And James Harrison will still be a force as an edge rusher after all else is rubble and ruin.
If you’re looking for the theme for Sunday’s victory, Homer suggests The Young and the Ageless. We’ll get to the young later, but let’s start with the ageless.
James Harrison, at age 38 the oldest defensive player in the NFL, was the single most dominating player on the field. He had ten tackles, six of them solo, one and a half sacks, and a game-changing strip sack deep in the red zone that was the key defensive play of the game. It was 17 degrees at game time, and he was playing in short sleeves. It was a performance for the ages, and also the ageless.
The strip sack itself was a thing of beauty. Harrison was lined up near the line of scrimmage, but dropped back into pass coverage well before the snap. That changed the Dolphins’ pass protection priorities. Then, at or just prior to the snap, Harrison came with the edge blitz, looping around unabated to the quarterback, blindsiding Matt Moore, knocking the ball away with his right hand, and then wrapping his left hand and arm around Moore’s stomach, driving him to the ground, and preventing Moore from going after the fumble. The loose ball was recovered by Tuitt, crushing Miami’s hopes of making a game of it just before the half.
I’m sure as you are reading this someone from the NFL has just texted Mr Harrison, requesting that he urinate in a bottle as part of the league’s “random testing” program. And that he do so every thirty minutes between now and Kansas City. It’s a random thing, you know.
Speaking of ageless, Lawrence Timmons had a rather productive afternoon as well. Law Dog managed 14 tackles, eight of them solo, and finished the monster performance with two exclamation points – two sacks on the final two defensive plays of the game.
Timmons is only 30, a mere lad in comparison to Harrison, but he’s in his tenth season with the Black and Gold, having been drafted in the first round at the tender age of twenty by Colbert and Tomlin.
Like fine wine, Deebo and Law Dog get better with age, because both are of prize vintage. Oenophiles and Steeler fans should enjoy them now, at their peak.
Will both be back next year? Who knows?
If the Steelers win the Lombardi, James may decide to retire on top. But, then again, he may also tell the folks on the South Side to leave his number on speed dial, just in case.
James Harrison is sui generis – absolutely one of a kind. There’s no need for him to show up at Latrobe next July to get into shape, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be needed come opening day.
As far as Timmons is concerned, he’s made a thundering statement that’s he’s a big part of the glue that holds it all together, as this defense has developed into a positive force. He’s worth the money because he still has the juice.
There was another ageless wonder on exhibit yesterday, and that was Ben. Miami sold out to stop the run, so Ben went to the short passing game, completing his first ten passes.
Roethlisberger, in his 13th season and the leader of the team, was prepared and executed to perfection as Miami stacked the box against the run early. The quick, precision passes to Brown and others, were combined with outstanding downfield blocking, enabling Antonio Brown to break free and turn short passes into two long touchdowns. AB simply YACked them to death.
Then, when Miami adjusted, Ben handed off to Bell, ramming the ball down their throats. Bell had every touch on the Steelers’ third touchdown drive, which went 83 yards and put the Steelers up 20-3.
Of course, Ben was also Ben, holding on to the ball, needlessly extending plays in garbage time, and getting hurt. When they gave out the Golden Globes on Sunday night, maybe they should have given a Lifetime Achievement Award for Drama to Ben, who could have accepted by Skype along with his walking boot. He will never learn, but that’s Ben.
So much for the ageless. Now let’s get to the young.
Rebecca says Matt Moore will never forget the hit from Bud Dupree. Of course, that is based on the assumption that he remembers the hit in the first place. I’m not sure that’s the case.
Homer suggests you go to the super slo-mo of the play, and watch as Moore falls to the ground. Watch carefully and you will see Moore’s spirit tentatively leave his body. Fortunately, Moore’s spirit eventually returned, as did Matt Moore, after one play. That guy’s got guts. The monstrous hit was clean, though horrifying, and emblematic of Dupree’s development into the young edge rusher we’ve all been waiting for. Bud was all over the field, all over Matt Moore, and the team has been undefeated since he became the starter.
Then there’s male stripper and polar bear Ryan (Damn) Shazier. It was 14 degrees with a wind chill factor of minus 2, when he took the field shirtless for warm-ups, showing off his six pack, his pistons, and his tats, for all the world to see. Memo to fins: U COLD BRO?
Once the game commenced, Shazier was all over the field, highlighting his performance with a leaping, twisting interception, his fourth pick this season and his third in three games.
Another young Steeler, Javon Hargrave, was key in shutting down Miami’s running game, controlling the line of scrimmage, holding Jay Ajayi to 33 yards rushing. Hargrave’s 305 pounds may have helped keep him warm in the Artic chill.
The defensive secondary, with rookies Artie Burns and Sean Davis, played well, keeping Miami out of the end zone for 55 minutes. Davis took a hit on the shoulder which forced him out of the game temporarily, but he returned. He even appeared to take a few snaps at cornerback after Mike Mitchell inadvertently clocked Ross Cockrell and forced Cockrell to the sidelines for at least one series.
Oh, and there was another guy who was appearing his first playoff game and he did a pretty good nice. Le’Veon Bell had 167 yards on 29 carries. Guess he’s a keeper, too.
So the young represented well, and so did the ageless.
And now that the Golden Globes are over, let’s dispense with the drama, get Ben back to practice, and move on to Kansas City, with all our pom-poms n’@.
Here we go.