Sunday, October 25, 2009

Linebacker WOOO: Steelers Win


The bridge-jumpers will want to complain about the offense, or how Hines only had 1 catch. But in the words of Hines Ward himself, "Steelers football is about winning." And unlike college football, you don't need style points. A win is a win, and we kept pace with the Bengals in the division race.

On the positive side, the Defense needed a game like this. Particularly against someone like Brett Favre. It makes it all the sweeter that Minnesota came in undefeated. There was a lot of purple in the crowd today, which also meant a lot of unhappy people after the game. We had a few guys sitting behind us who were loud and annoying, but they were pretty knowledgeable about their team. It was pretty sweet watching them hang their heads at the end.

Game Recap

Minnesota wins the toss and elects to receive, hoping to get on the board first in the predicted shootout.

Someone forgot to tell all the media outlets in the run-up to this game that both teams had pretty damn good defenses. The Steelers defense comes out with a fire under them and forces a 3-and-out.

After Mendenhall goes around the right end for 14 yards, the Vikings defense tightens up and forces a punt. Our boy Patrick Bailey makes a great open-field tackle at the 18, almost forcing a fumble. What a special teams player.

Farrior gets things rolling for the defense, sacking Favre on first down. The Vikings can't do anything and have to punt again, giving the Steelers great field position near the 50.

Sadly, the Steelers can't do anything with it, and have to punt again, playing the field position game.

Looking to make the Steelers pay for not taking advantage of their field position, Minnesota is able to pick up one first down. But the defense answers back. Kiesel and Polamalu team up to stop AP in the backfield, then Harrison comes up with a big sack on 2nd down.
The Vikings run a draw on 3rd down, then their punter shanks one, giving us the ball inside the 40.

The Steelers look like they're poised to go 3 and out again, but Mike Wallace makes a catch on a come-back route past the sticks to move the chains. Minnesota challenges and fails worse than Keenen & Kel. Mike Wallace reminds us that he doesn't just catch balls and report news stories, as he takes a reverse from Mendenhall, getting a great block from Ben along the way. Out of the power-I, the Steelers throw to David Johnson in the flat to get inside the 10. On 3rd down, the Steelers look to have a touchdown on a pass to Holmes, but Heath gets flagged for offensive pass interference on the other side of the field. As is to be expected in situations like this, the Vikings bring the heat and Ben gets sacked. Reed knocks it through to get us on the board.


Second Quarter

AP gets things rolling dashing off left guard for 15 yards. The defense steps it up again and is able to contain AP, forcing another third and long where Favre can't connect with Harvin. Punt.

The Steelers are able to work themselves into a 3rd and 2, but rather than going for something short to move the chains, Ben goes downfield for Hines, who gets cracked in the ribs and can't hang on to the pass. Punt.

At this point in the game, you knew Minnesota's offense was going to start putting something together. LeBeau had been throwing the kitchen sink at them to start, and you knew Favre would burn them at some point. This time it came on a 3rd down when Willie Gay blitzed off the corner and Favre was able to hit Harvin wide open down the sidelines. Harvin gets all the way to the Steelers 44 before getting pushed out by Polamalu. Favre picked us apart through the air, and the defense wasn't able to get the Vikes to 3rd down again until a 3rd and 1 at the 12. AP got the call and plowed down to the 3. Farrior and Hoke were able to stuff AP on first down, then Favre tries to go play-action to his fullback, but pressure from Hoke and Eason forces a bad throw. On 3rd and goal, AP goes over the left side...
...and is able to plow through Farrior and Polamalu to the end zone.


The offense got the ball back with 5 minutes left in the half, and respond by going 3-and-out when Ben can't hit Moore on 3rd down.

The defense is able to force a 3rd and 7, but Favre finds his tight end to convert the first down as the clock hits two minutes.

Two Minute Warning

Two incompletions, coupled with a false start penalty, push the Vikings back to a 3rd and 15. The Vikings run another draw play on 3rd and long, allowing the Steelers to call a time out to get the ball back.

The Steelers start inside their own 10, and Ben finds Holmes in the flat who makes a great stiff-arm to break a tackle. After an incompletion, Ben goes to Heath for 9 yards. On 3rd and 1, the Steelers spread it out, and run a draw play to Mewelde Moore who is able to bounce it off the left end and move the chains. The Steelers use their 2nd timeout to set things up with just under a minute to play. After an incompletion, Ben zips one over the middle to a wide open Mike Wallace, who is able to sit down in coverage at the Vikings 40. Ben rushes up and spikes the ball to stop the clock. The Vikings were sitting back with two safeties in cover-2 the whole drive, and Ben capitalizes. He rips one to Mike Wallace on a deep post right in the center of the field. Wallace turns on the jets as the safeties run into each other and is able to front-flip into the end zone.


Favre takes a knee and ends the half.


Youth football. St. Teresa v. St. Cyril. Good times.

Gotta love the halftime youth games. They pull out all kinds of great stuff. Triple reverses, halfback passes, quite entertaining.

I plug the blog to some people sitting around me during halftime.

Third Quarter

The Steelers get the ball to start things off. Mendenhall gets things rolling with another big run to the right side. Wallace gets 6 on a reverse and 15 on the end thanks to a facemask. Raise Some MendenHELL gets two more totes for 9 yards, then Ben is able to scramble around the left edge for the first down. The Steelers get some more yardage for a late hit out of bounds penalty to take them all the way down to the 8. With first and goal from inside the 10, the Steelers don't even attempt a pass into the end zone, and have to settle for a field goal.


Harvin makes a good return out to the 35, and the Vikings get things rolling. Harvin is able to move the chains on a 3rd and 7 at midfield to move the Vikings into Steelers territory. Favre dumps one down on 3rd and 10 and is able to get 9 yards. Childress opts to go for it on 4th and 1, and with the Steelers keying on AP, Favre goes play-action and finds Sidney Rice down the middle to get all the way down to the 1 before Polamalu brings him down.

With the ball first and goal at the 1, everyone in the stadium knows where its going. Keyaron Fox and Farrior pile up Peterson on first down. With the best back in the NFL, one would assume the Vikings would go back to him again. However, Favre attempts two passes, both of which are incomplete, and the Vikings settle for a field goal.


Huge goal-line stand.

The Steelers come back looking to get things going, but Ben can't hit Holmes on 3rd and 2, and it's punt city again.

The defense forces another 3rd and long where Favre tries to go up top for Harvin down the middle. However, Ryan Clark delivers a hit that will be on the next Renegade video and Harvin has to be helped off the field. Punt.

Raise Some gets 17 and 5 over the right side as the quarter expires.

Fourth Quarter

On 3rd and 5, Ben rips one to Holmes on a slant who beats the corner and is able to turn it upfield, then cut back to the far sideline and take it all the way down to the 9. Mendenhall gets the call and slides through a hole up the middle, then tries to go up and over a pile of blockers.
The ball comes out on his way down, and the Vikings fall on it.

Favre comes back and leads the Vikings down the field, pulling some bush-league crap running up to the line to snap the ball before the defense was ready. The Vikings were able to convert two third downs to Sidney Rice. The second came after a series of penalties backed the Vikings into a 3rd and 18. Favre flung one out to Rice on the sidelines, and he was originally ruled out, but the Vikings challenged and the call was overturned. Things were looking sour as Peterson got to the outside and dashed all the way down to the 21. Favre hit Peterson on a dump-down to move down to the 10. The Vikings seemed to have taken the league, but the flag-happy crew of Ron Winters takes the TD off the board on a tripping call. If this was hockey, that would have been known as an "even-up" call for the TD they took away from the Steelers.

With first and goal from the 20, Favre went back to the dump-downs, working the short passing game for 5 and 7 yards to get back down to the 8. On 3rd down, Favre dropped back and the Diesel dominated All Pro guard Steve Hutchinson on the rush...
The Diesel gets a paw in there and knocks the ball free.

Teddy Roosevelt takes the opportunity to enact his first piece of legislation of the season, bringing the Big Stick policy into full effect.
The Big Stick scoops it up, makes a move to dodge Favre, then rumbles downfield picking up some blockers all the way to paydirt.
What a play by the defense.
Woodley 77 yards on the fumble return.

First fumble returned for a touchdown since Woodley did it last year against Baltimore.


On the ensuing kickoff, Reed hits one high and short, in the hope that the coverage can get there, but the blocking is better and Harvin blows by everyone down the sidelines, taking it all the way back to the house.


With 6 minutes left in the game, the Steelers needed a clock-consuming drive with some points at the end from the offense. Mewelde Moore came in with fresh legs and sure hands after the Mendenhall fumble. The Steelers were able to pick up a first down on a defensive delay of game penalty to move them out across the 40. Moore got two carries over the right end which went for 6 and -2, setting up a big 3rd down. The Vikings brought pressure, and Ben, trying to scramble out of it, got the ball knocked out of his hand. Luckily, it got knocked out of bounds and the Vikings weren't able to recover. Punt.

The Vikings fans in the stands were speaking of another Brett Favre comeback with 3:21 to go in the game. The Steelers fans were musing that Favre hadn't thrown an interception yet.

After a first down on a short pass to the full back, Favre tries to air it out over Ike, but both Ike and Rice overrun the ball and Rice can't make the catch leaning back. AP gets 6 yards on a run to take it down to the two minute warning.

Two Minute Warning

Faced with a 3rd and 4, Favre dumps it off to Peterson out of the backfield who blows through an attempted Willie Gay tackle and streaks down the sidelines for 29 yards, all the way to the Steelers 26. Chester Taylor comes in for AP and the Vikings run the same dump-off play for 7 more yards. With a little over a minute to play, Favre looks for Taylor again out of the backfield but Keyaron Fox steps in front of the pass and takes off...
Fox picks up a block and tears down the sidelines for the 5th longest interception return in Steelers history.

Picture of the game right there.


The Vikings come back out with a minute to play and two timeouts, prepared to let Favre do some gunslinging. He is able to hook up with Rice for 11 and 16, then find Peterson out of the backfield for 17 more to get down inside the 20. With only 5 seconds left on the clock, the Vikings could have opted to take a knee and leave. However, Favre drops back to throw, takes a step up and gets absolutely flattened by James Harrison.


I am better than you.

Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Mike Wallace
Defensive Game Ball: The linebackers, all five of them (Harrison, Farrior, Timmons, Woodley, Fox)

Honorable Mentions:
Max Starks
Chris Kemoeatu
Justin Hartwig
Trai Essex
Willie Colon
Rashard Mendenhall
Troy Polamalu
Brett Keisel

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Kickoff Returns for Touchdowns
This was the second week in a row that the Steelers special teams allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown. Not sure what it is, but Bob L. had better get things figured out quick. They're looking a lot more like the Special Teams of 2007 than the Special Teams of 2008.

Final Thoughts
  • As I said at the outset, the defense needed a game like this. That it happened against Brett Favre makes it all the sweeter.
  • Keyaron Fox is the real deal. It should be him and Timmons in there when Farrior retires.
  • Can't say enough about the job the offensive line did today. Jared Allen was a non-factor.
  • Max Starks should go to the Pro Bowl based on what he did against Jared Allen today.
  • The Vikings had the ball for 19:50 in the second half and scored 3 offensive points.
  • Wasn't Ben's best game, but we got the job done.
  • Didn't realize how much Minnesota controlled Time of Possession until I wrote the recap.
  • LaMarr Woodley gets more consistent pressure than any rusher, but the fact that he is coming into the QB's field of vision and not from the blind side makes it more likely that the QB will see him and throw before getting sacked.
  • Harrison had 2 more sacks today.
  • The Steelers ran 7 offensive plays in the 4th quarter. The defense scored 14 points.
  • This looked a lot more like the Steelers of last season.
  • Gotta question Minnesota's play-calling at the goal line. 3 runs and 3 passes on 6 plays inside the 3 when you have Adrian Peterson? Particularly 2 passes in a row from the 1-foot line in a 6-point game.
  • should be disgraced they don't have a picture of Mike Wallace front-flipping into the end zone.
  • Renegade video got played 3 times today, including before K-Fox's TD. Dating back to last season, the Steelers have scored 5 defensive touchdowns on Renegade drives.
  • Great way to head into the bye week. Not going to complain about being 5-2.
  • This was the first game in NFL history with 3 TDs of 70+ yards in the 4th quarter.
  • Some dude at the game asked me who this Keyaron Fox guy was. Now he knows.
  • Both teams had a TD taken away because of penalties.
  • Favre's only touchdown pass was to Keyaron Fox.

No comments: