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Bradshaw Burns Roethlisberger, Dixon Has Accuracy Issues, Pittsburgh Defense Smothers Falcons

  • The greatest highlight of the Atlanta-Pittsburgh contest actually occurred before the opening kickoff, when former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw absolutely burned Ben Roethlisberger. Bradshaw turned to the camera and spoke directly to "Ben," who is probably at home, watching the Steelers on TV. Bradshaw said that the Steelers trading Santonio Holmes away for substance abuse violations but keeping Roethlisberger around after multiple allegations of rape made no sense whatsoever and that he would have parted ways with the suspended quarterback if he had been in charge. Finally -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- Bradshaw said that the three letters Roethlisberger should try to be associated with are "NFL, not TMZ." Sick burn, Terry. Well played.
  • The Steelers defense has looked positively great so far. Atlanta has done most of its damage through the air, because they simply cannot run on Pittsburgh's front seven. They've held Falcons running back, Michael Turner, a player who averaged nearly 5 yards per carry last year, to 19 yards on 9 carries. Lawrence Timmons has been all over the field, and LaMarr Woodley has been a pass-rushing god. On one play, Atlanta lined up in a power running formation on a third-and-short. You almost had to feel bad for Turner when the ball was snapped and quarterback Matt Ryan handed it off. There was nowhere to go. The defense has held Tony Gonzalez to zero catches in the first half -- he's trying to get to 1,000 for his career, which would only add to his league-record marks -- en route to handing Atlanta a number of three-and-outs.
  • Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh offense hasn't been great, either. They've rushed the ball 18 times in the first half, to no one's surprise. However, the results haven't been spectacular by any means (3.1 ypc), but they have been able to grind it out in short-yardage situations, mostly thanks to Issac Redman, who entered the game frequently to spell Mendenhall. Dennis Dixon, who is starting in place of Roethlisberger, has been fairly careful with the ball and has yet to leave the pocket on a rollout or a scramble up the middle. I'm less concerned with his interception, where he simply didn't see the Atlanta defender in the flats, and more worried about the open receivers he's missed. Dixon is making pretty good reads, locating safe targets on underneath routes, but he keeps delivering his balls too low, resulting in a number of three-and-outs. I don't know if it's first-game jitters or what -- Dixon was accurate in Oregon -- but he needs to pull it together in the second half. Let's see you convert on third down, Dennis!
  • At halftime, the score is all tied up at 3. Atlanta gets the ball in the second half.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.