Last week, Polamalu told the NFL Network that Ed Reed was the best safety in the game. After 60 minutes of play and a difference of two interceptions, he’s looking like he was correct. Perhaps, Polamalu knew that he was no match for the Ravens in his upcoming game in Baltimore. The Steelers safety was credited with three tackles and three assists in the Ravens 35-7 embarrassment of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were three tackles and three assists that I must have completely missed while watching this game in its entirety.
OK. To be fair, I did see Polamalu’s hair on top of a couple piles after one of the Ravens receivers gained 30+ yards down the sideline. He also threw a punch at Ray Rice after the whistle had blown with his team down 25 points with a quarter left to play in the game.
To me, the burning question that no one seems to be asking is: where the hell was Troy Polamalu in this game? And on top of that, why hasn’t anyone in the national media asked the same question? Remember, he’s the guy that changed the momentum on the Ravens in their week 13 matchup with his sack and strip of Joe Flacco with Baltimore up 10-6 in the 4th quarter. It was a game changing and maybe even a season changing play by a guy that went on to win Defensive Player of the Year. That wasn’t that long ago.
I caught grief from Steelers fans when I wrote that Polamalu was washed up after a poor performance in the Super Bowl. “The once dominant safety couldn’t keep up with Jordan Nelson, Greg Jennings or James Jones the entire game as Pittsburgh’s defense allowed 304 yards passing to the Packers,” I wrote in that piece. So far in week one, that trend has continued.
If you look back at ESPN.com’s recap of the Ravens 31-24 playoff loss to the Steelers on January 15, there is a “Research Note” about Joe Flacco’s inability to recognize Polamalu as a part of the Steelers defense. “Knowing Troy Polamalu’s whereabouts is a top priority for every opposing quarterback – he’s likely to line up in a different spot on each snap,” it says. It wasn’t a priority on Sunday because the once dominant safety was useless to Pittsburgh in a failed attempt to stop Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and the Ravens offense.
This should have been a game that Polamalu took advantage of an offensive line that featured two players that hadn’t taken a preseason snap with the Ravens. Baltimore should have seen blitzes from that crazy haired safety all day long, but they didn’t. Why?
Just before the game, the Steelers signed Polamalu to an extension through 2014. He struggled with an Achilles injury last season, but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he feels “awesome.” “I couldn’t imagine feeling any better than I do now,” he said. If that’s true, Pittsburgh has some serious concerns as to where Troy Polamalu disappeared to during the pounding that his team took on Sunday.
Even in a bitter rivalry, you never wish for an injury of any player. In fact, I would like to see Polamalu return to form because it makes the matchup between Baltimore and Pittsburgh that much better. But you have to wonder where he was this week and whether his play has carried over from the Super Bowl loss just a few months ago.
Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com. You can follow him on Twitter @zamwi or send him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org