- "The Pittsburgh Steelers scoring defense is probably better than Carolina's scoring offense." Although I'm typically not a fan of Marshall Faulk's special brand of "insight" - I use that term charitably - but he hit the nail on the head when making the obvious choice to back Pittsburgh tonight. In short, the Steelers defense is really good, and Carolina's offense is really, really, really bad. As I've said before, I can't fathom what a feat of strength it must be to remain a Panthers fan this season. That said, it was impressive to see Carolina record three first downs on their opening drive against Pittsburgh's league-best rushing defense.
- As a general rule, it's much easier to win when you don't spot the opposition seven points from the outset. That said, it was nice to see Pittsburgh's kickoff coverage recover on in the first quarter after doing just that in last week's loss to the New York Jets. That said, they did allow a 36-yard return. Not great, but it's an improvement.
- Why in the world any network thinks putting three guys in the broadcast booth is a good idea is beyond me. I'm typically not one to mindlessly conform to convention, but when you opt for the prototypical play-by-play / color model, you're at least assured a degree of smoothness, if not quality of analysis. With three broadcasters, you get guys stumbling all over each other.
- Rashard Mendenhall is having a great year, don't get me wrong, but it really bugs me when he doesn't use his power. Case in point: his first run against Carolina was a 36-yard scamper (video) down the left sideline, and instead of using his full head of steam to bowl over the remaining safety, he decided to stutter-step and promptly got knocked out of bounds. Like I said, he's a great young back having an excellent 2010 campaign, but he needs to trust his power more and quit dancing. That run should've been for six.
- Rookie receiver Emmanuel Sanders continues to tear it up in December - kind of. He made a tough, contested touchdown catch on a hitch route but was completely robbed after John Fox challenged the play. According to the official, Sanders didn't have control as he went to the ground, but after watching the replay a million times, I don't know how anyone could say there was "indisputable evidence" that the call should be overturned.
- After one quarter of ball, the Steelers lead the Panthers, 3-0.