Sunday, September 19, 2010

Return of the Defense: Steelers Win


As we predicted in our gameday post, Jeff Fisher opts for the Titans to wear their away white jerseys, making the Steelers wear their home black jerseys in the 95-degree heat.

First Quarter

The Steelers take the opening kickoff and Mewelde Moore takes it and hands it off to Antonio Brown who takes it all the way down the sidelines TO THE HOUSE!!


On the ensuing kickoff, Stevenson Sylvester punches the ball out from the returner and Keyaron Fox falls on the ball to give the Steelers the ball back on the right side of the 50.

A fight breaks out after an incompletion on first down. No idea how Finnegan didn't get kicked out for being the 2nd man in and throwing punches to Ward's face. On 3rd down, the Steelers go empty set and Tennessee brings 1 more than they can block, forcing a fumble that Tennessee recovers.

The Titans come out and go right to the air, picking on Ike Taylor on come-back routes. Tennessee's offense falls apart inside the red zone, taking a timeout on 3rd down then a delay of game.


Patrick Bailey makes the tackle for the Titans on the kickoff. We still miss him. 

Arians goes back to his old offense, throwing a swing pass on 3rd and 2, which results in a 1-yard loss. What happened to the smart play-calling last week? Sepulveda booms a 47-yarder, but the coverage unit doesn't get down there. Danny saves a touchdown with a tackle on the sidelines.

Farrior goes down on the first play from scrimmage and Larry Foote comes in to take his place. Tennessee picks up a few first downs to move into the red zone. VY goes to the play-action well one too many times and tries to go deep to the end zone but Polamalu makes a diving interception to halt the threat.
What a player.

The ensuing drive gives people who grew up watching the 90s Steelers a massive erection. The offense comes out in an I-formation and runs the ball. Mendenhall makes two nice runs over the right side, picking up 2 first downs following his blockers. Redman throws a great seal block to spring Rashard for a 20-yard gain. Dixon converts a 3rd and 2 with his feet, scrambling for 21 yards. Mike Wallace saves the day falling on a fumbled snap.

Second Quarter

On 3rd and long from the 25, Dixon takes the snap and takes off on a sprint with blockers in front, picking up 7 yards. In this situation, it was a great play call. We ensured there wasn't a sack that forced us out of field goal range and didn't make Dixon try to force the ball downfield. Reed tacks it on.


The Steelers defense stands strong again forcing a 3-and-out, with Clark and Woodley teaming up for a good open-field tackle of CJ.

Homestead Charlie comes in to lead the offense and fumbles the first snap. Batch completes one to El Yeah on a quick-hitter then gets one batted away from Heath on 3rd down. Superman with a 45-yarder.

In the mean time, Dixon gets carted off the field, looking like he's stretching his knee. The Steelers waste a challenge, challenging a completed pass to CJ. On 3rd down, LeBeau out-smarts VY, and Woodley drops right to where Young is throwing, making a leaping interception.

The Steelers are able to pick up one first down, but the drive stalls out around the 38. Tomlin opts to punt rather than try a 55-yarder. Willie Gay can't keep it in at the goal line, touchback.

Chris Johnson breaks an 85-yarder to the house, but it gets brought back on a holding call. Whew. The biggest part of that play was CJ getting winded and being taken out. Javon Ringer comes in and the Steelers stack him up, forcing a punt.

The Steelers offense stalls out and can't pick up  yard on the next drive, wasting good field position once again.

Tennessee takes over with 1:45 to play, and tries to run it out, handing off to CJ, but he coughs it up, putting the ball on the turf and Harrison falls on it for a HUGE turnover to give the Steelers the ball back on the 23 with 1:36 left.

Mendenhall takes one up the gut to put the Steelers in positive down-and-distance then get called for a hold that brings back a touchdown pass to Wallace. Mendenhall gets brought down in the backfield on a draw play, moving the ball back to the 31. Batch steps up away from pressure on 3rd down and finds Wallace wide open. Wallace doesn't pick up the first down, but gets to the ball back inside the 20, where Reed nails it.


Third Quarter

CJ takes a hammer from B-Mac to start the 3rd. Harrison makes two great open-field tackles on VY scrambles, forcing a punt.

The Steelers come out with the motif offense. Randle El makes his 3rd drop of the year on a low-thrown but still catchable ball. Punt.

Vince Young gets JACKED on 3rd down by Harrison and Aerosmith who spike VY into the turf head-first for a sack. They'll probably get fined this week, but it was worth it. LOVE the way the defense is playing right now.

The Steelers start grinding it out with Mendenhall, but a false start penalty on Essex stalls things out, then Batch gets sacked on 3rd and long. The backup tackles were getting owned by the Titans DEs all day.

The Titans offense gets in a bad situation with CJ trying to block James Harrison 1-on-1. CJ whiffs and Harrison chops the ball out of VY's hand, and Steve McLendon, picked up this week for D-line depth, falls on the ball for the 5th Tennessee turnover of the game.

Raise Some comes out grindin' as the Titans warm up Kerry Collins on the sideline. Red Zone Redman picks up a 3rd and 1 out of the power-I. The Steelers pick up a break on a personal foul on Courtland Finnegan, more concerned about being the NFL's dirtiest player than situational football, moving the ball inside the 15. Offsides on Tennessee moves it inside the 10. Mendenhall gets stacked up twice, then Batch has to fire one out in a 5-wide set to avoid getting demolished.

Fourth Quarter

Reed comes out on 4th and 5 and drills it, extending the lead to 13.


Kerry Collins comes in for Tennessee.

Typical Collins, he starts using underneath passes to RBs & TEs to move the ball down the field. Polamalu rings up a sack on a low snap that Collins almost breaks a hip on trying to bend over and pick up the ball. On 3rd and long, Collins slings it for Nate Washington but B-Mac is all over it, making a great diving INT.
For those keeping score, that's 6 turnovers and 3 poins for Tennessee.

The motif offense doesn't do anything except run some time off the clock. Tony Hills gets blitzkrieged off the left side and Batch gets sacked.

CJ gets smacked by Harrison on 1st down, then Collins moves the offense back even more taking an intentional grounding penalty with Farrior in his grill.
Love the look on Kerry's face here. He looks like he's shitting his pants.

The motif offense runs 2 minutes off the clock and Superman kills one 57 yards into the end zone.

Woodley gets in on first down and knocks the ball out of Collins' hand. Hoke falls on the ball at the bottom of the pile for the defense's 7th turnover of the game. WOW. What a performance by the defense.

The motif offense once again fails to do anything. Batch tries to hit Hines on a fade route on 3rd down but Finnegan pulls him down and the pass falls incomplete. Reed drills it.


Tennessee actually picks up a first down, barely, but Collins' arm takes another wack when Keisel gets it from behind. Collins hits a few more passes down the field, converting a 4th and 1 with a pass, signaling that they gave up on the running game and that CJ won't get his 13th 100-yard game. Collins moves the Titans into the red zone as the Steelers play prevent and give up the underneath passes. 

Polamalu makes a monster play (a mirror image of the play he made to stop Joe Flacco on a 4th and 1 QB sneak in the 08 AFC Championship Game) diving over the line to stop Kerry Collins on a QB sneak at the goal line.

On 3rd and goal, the Steelers defense gives up their first touchdown of the season, as Collins hits Nate on a fade. Tennessee tacks on the 2-point conversion to make it an 8-point game.


Will Allen tries to jump the onside kick and Tennessee falls on it, giving their team life. 

Hearts start beating faster and faster as Collins completes 2 passes to get Tennessee down to the 30. After a spike, Collins goes deep for Nate, but Ryan Clark comes across and knocks the ball out.

On 3rd and 10, Tennessee takes 2 false start penalties to move it back to 3rd and 20. To cap things off, as if it summarizes the whole game, Collins is pressured, dumps it off to CJ who gets hammered by Timmons right at the line of scrimmage.


2-0 BABY!!

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Rashard Mendenhall
Defensive Game Ball: Troy Polamalu

Honorable Mentions:
James Harrison
LaMarr Woodley
Lawrence Timmons
Bryant McFadden
James Farrior
Chris Hoke
Aaron Smith
Brett Keisel
Ziggy Hood
Nick Eason
Steve McLendon
Larry Foote
Ike Taylor
Antonio Brown
Jeff Reed

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game


Regardless of who the quarterback is, they're only as good as their offensive line. If the tackles can't block edge rushers, it's going to be a long season no matter who is the quarterback. Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott really struggled today against the Titans D-line. The interior O-line did a decent job preventing A-gap pressure. Nevertheless, the line is going to have to improve their pass-blocking for when Ben comes back or else he is going to get killed in there.

Final Thoughts
  • What a game by the defense. That might be the best defensive performance since the New England game in 2008.
  • 7 turnovers (3 INT, 4 Fumble recoveries) AND 4 sacks. Wow.
  • Woodley and Harrison are having beastly years.
  • Polamalu is the heart and soul of this defense. 
  • What a job of stacking and wrapping on Chris Johnson. We held him to 34 yards on 16 carries. 
  • Mendenhall had double CJ's rushing yards, with 69.
  • The defense was playing prevent at the end, but they were still keying on CJ. Made someone else beat them.
  • No complaining whatsoever about being 2-0.
  • Everyone in the media who was giving Dixon shit this week for not scoring a touchdown (except in OT), guess what? Neither did Batch.
  • Hope Dixon's knee is okay. Assuming Leftwich clears waivers, he might start next week.
  • Cincy beat Baltimore, meaning we're alone atop the division at 2-0.

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