Sunday was a great Week 1. Aaron Rodgers led a classic comeback on Sunday Night Football. The Browns vs. Steelers looked like the old rivalry – in rainy weather no less! You could almost see Sam Rutigliano stalking the Cleveland sideline if you squinted hard enough. Here are my top 3 takeaways from the couch for Sunday, Sept 9, 2018.
All the “Aaron Rodgers isn’t a leader” talk should be stopped now. Rodgers might not be vocal, but what we saw on the field said it all. The Packers looked disorganized, lost, and on their way to a top-five overall pick in next year’s draft in the first half. Once Rodgers stepped back on the field, the entire team stepped up. Davante Adams put up extra effort to tap the pylon for a touchdown, Rodgers made a signature throw to a diving Geronimo Allison for the next touchdown, and Randall Cobb sealed it with an amazing catch and run. Even the defense responded to Rodger’s prescence, with defensive lineman perhaps saving the game by covering a running back darting to the end zone.
- Monster Mack
Today’s top NFL story might be Khalil Mack had it not been for what happened in the above paragraph. Mack changed the course of the first half, something very few defensive players have done consistently. We’re talking Lawrence Taylor type impact here.
The only question is how long can he keep that up? If he stays healthy and continues producing at that level, sit back and enjoy watching a future Hall of Famer in his prime. That may sound crazy, but few guys can play at that level for even a short period of time. Mack notched a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception, and a touchdown last night – and according to NFL Research is the first NFL player to do that since 2016. When he did the same against the Panthers.
- The Browns vs. Steelers “Seems like Old Times”
The Pittsburgh/Cleveland game hasn’t been as fulfilling in the past several years. Yesterday’s game reminded me of the good ol’ days, however. Both pass rushes affected the outcome of the game. Cleveland looked much improved, as the Browns secondary made plays, led by rookie Denzel Ward.
The Steeler secondary also made plays, as Joe Haden knocked away a sure touchdown in the end zone, and his replacement Cameron Sutton made a key pick to send the game into overtime before making a key tackle to force a three-and-out in OT. This was after Sutton got beat for a touchdown after entering the game.
The game ended a tie, but an arrow pointing toward better things in #Believeland. Pittsburgh fans would probably say their team didn’t look at their best. Certainly, Ben Roethlisberger made a few mistakes and almost made one or two more. The Steeler pass rush, however, looked very good, and forced Tyrod Taylor into rushed throws. James Connor gave an inspiring performance in the middle of the Le’Veon Bell crisis. Antonio Brown found the end zone, and the special teams forced a shanked punt in OT that set up a potential game-winning FG, and blocked Cleveland’s potential game-winning FG at the end.
A recap fully appreciating this game would be way too long. Great plays on both sides. Really looking forward to the rematch in Pittsburgh on October 28.