'The Bus' still has overdrive

Updated: November 8, 2004, 5:35 PM ET
By Randy Mueller | ESPN Insider
Once again, the Pittsburgh Steelers put on display this year's version of the NFL's best team. In beating the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in successive weeks, the Steelers have firmly grasped an elite spot in the NFL's hierarchy of 2004.

A couple angles jumped out at me while watching Jerome Bettis run roughshod over a suspect Eagles defense that had shown signs of leaking oil, but had yet to burst a gasket like it did yesterday. Bettis became the messenger when Duce Staley was a late scratch due to a hamstring.

Jerome Bettis
Bettis' last 100-plus yard game was against the Chargers in December.
This put Bettis in the same frame of mind as an on-deck hitter in baseball who has just seen the prior batter intentionally walked to get to "him."

There was a sense of disrespect that Bettis felt the minute people starting talking about the Steelers' diminished chances without the services of Staley. The Bus rolled for 149 yards on 33 carries, but it was the fashion of his running style that had people watching with eyes wide open. His pad level at the point of attack and relentless body lean after contact sent the message of "we're going to keep the same game plan and you can't do anything about it" to an undersized and finesse-oriented Eagles defense.


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