By Chris Gates
Oddly enough, it’s fair to say the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is the best in the AFC North after one week.
Let that sink in for a second.
OK, now that you’ve taken the short amount of time to deduce I’m a dummy and know nothing about football, let’s look at the facts from week one.
The Steelers’ 15 points in a 15-9 win over Atlanta Sunday proved to be the most points scored by an AFC North team in a victory. Baltimore was the only other AFC North team to win, with a 10-9 decision Monday night against the New York Jets.
The Ravens’ offense continually shut itself down and scored only one touchdown, one that was because of a ridiculous rule in the NFL.
New York wide receiver Braylon Edwards hopped over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a field goal. He missed the ball and was called for roughing the kicker while lying on the ground.
That call was made because the kicker’s leg made contact with Edwards while he was lying there. NFL rules state the kicker’s leg must be allowed to come back to the playing surface un-interfered.
The soccer-style dive didn’t hurt either.
The call extended Baltimore’s drive and it scored with 6 seconds remaining in the first half for a 7-6 lead. The Ravens mustered just a field goal in the second half.
Cleveland was much like the Ravens in that the Browns couldn’t score in the second half – when it mattered most.
The Browns put up 14 first-half points but were held scoreless in the second half, falling to Tampa Bay, 17-14.
Cincinnati was an equal opposite, finding the endzone with ease in the second half against New England. The problem was, the Bengals couldn’t get going early on.
It cost them in a 38-24 loss.
Wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens both left the sideline before the game ended, raising the question of whether there is already turmoil in the offense.
Meanwhile, the Steelers found a way to score when the game was on the line. The running game had not been great all day against Atlanta, but when the Steelers got the ball in overtime they needed just one play to end the game – a 50-yard touchdown run by Rashard Mendenhall.
Now, granted, Dennis Dixon is not on the same level as Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco when it comes to quarterback play. Dixon frequently under threw his receivers and single handedly stopped the offense on countless third down situations.
But he and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians were able to formulate a game plan where the Steelers offense generated enough forward motion to control time of possession and, eventually, win the game.
In a conference that appeared to be out of reach before the season even started, the Steelers earned a season-opening win that could be huge come season’s end.
And if the offense is able to produce points now and do so while winning ball games, imagine how good this team could be when Ben Roethlisberger returns.
But for now, all hail the Steelers offense. It is the class of the AFC North.