Sunday, September 5, 2010

Run Out the Clock Situation: Steelers Win


The fourth preseason game is all about avoiding injuries. Beyond that, you hope that the guys fighting for the last few roster spots will somehow distinguish themselves. Well, at least one of those things happened here.

Big Ben comes out for his last start before October. The O-line struggles on the first drive and the Steelers go 3-and-out.

Even without DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in the game, Carolina's running game still looked good to start the game. Mike Goodson put together a few good plays to get Carolina across the 50. Hunter Cantwell (who?) makes a nice throw to convert a 3rd down to keep things rolling for the Cats. Carolina tries to go to a wildcat on the next 3rd down but Patrick Bailey blows the play up in the backfield. Great play by a guy trying to make the roster. John Kasay comes in and clangs one off the crossbar from 51 yards out.

The Steelers come back out and it's 3rd down again before you know it. Pouncey gets called for a false start putting us back in a 3rd and 17, but Ben zips one to Battle for 16. Tomlin challenges the call and doesn't get it, leaving the Steelers in 4th and 1. Even after the challenge, the Steelers come back out and go for it, with Raise Some picking up the first down and more. The ground game picks up some more good yardage, getting down inside the 20 before a holding penalty sets the offense back. A screen pass gets things back to 3rd and manageable, but they can't pick it up and it's Jeff Reed time.


Carolina does nothing and punts. A hold on the punt return sets the offense back, and Leftwich comes into the game as Ben exits after 2 series.

On the second play from scrimmage, Leftwich runs a great play-action and stands in, slinging one out for Emmanuel Sanders who makes a leaping grab to haul in Byron's laser.

Second Quarter

Things stall out after the quarter change as Leftwich overthrows a pass on 3rd down. Keenan Lewis makes up for his errors last week by downing Sepulveda's punt inside the 3.

Carolina runs twice to get away from their own goal line, but the Panthers take advantage of Lewis' cushion on 3rd down. The defense responds on the next set of downs. Stevenson Sylvester lays the hammer on a back juggling the ball out of the backfield then Eason comes unblocked on 3rd down and rings up a sack.

On the first play, Byron fires one downfield for Sanders, who makes another nice catch, but more importantly, Leftwich went down grabbing his knee. Initial reports are an MCL injury that has him out 2-4 weeks. Replays seem to show that tackle Jonathan Scott fell into his leg.

Dixon comes out, hands off to Moore, then hits Emmanuel Sanders on an out-route. Sanders pulls it in and makes a good cut inside the corner and scampers into the endzone for the score.


Patrick Bailey makes another play on 3rd down to prove he belongs on the team. However, an offsides on the Steelers gives the Cats drive new life. Cantwell tries to go deep down the sidelines and Keenan Lewis almost makes the pick but Dwayne Jarrett is able to knock the ball out of his hands. Two plays later, Stevenson Sylvester makes another great play by blowing past the Panthers line for the sack.

Homestead Charlie comes in to run the offense, proving that the Steelers knew Leftwich's injury might have been more serious than anticipated. Charlie comes in to do one thing, and one thing only: hand off.

As our buddy Stanley says...
"This is a 'Run out the clock' situation."

A little odd to think of the Steelers going into "run out the clock" mode in the 2nd quarter, but with Leftwich down and Ben's pending suspension, it was the right call.

Back to the game, Isaac Redman makes some good runs up the middle to move the team into field goal range. Redman picks up a first down before the 2 minute warning, enabling the Steelers to run 3 times and finish the half off with a field goal.


Third Quarter

Tony Pike, best known for shattering the hopes and dreams of Pitt fans in the season finale at Heinz Field last year, comes into the game to a surprising lack of boos. Times like this you wish people had better mid-term memories. Really, it was less than a year ago, you would think the fans in the house would have remembered.

The Steelers come out content to keep running the ball and using up the clock. 3 runs and a punt = good preseason football. Sepulveda booms a 55+ yarder. After their wildcat back makes a pass, Bailey blows up yet another play, pulling down Edwards on a sweep option out of the wildcat. Punt.

Antonio Brown pulls off a decent return, giving the Steelers the ball in on Carolina's side of the 50. The Steelers are able to convert a 3rd downs by virtue of a pass interference penalty and a defensive holding penalty. However, an offensive holding call nullifies a touchdown and the Steelers settle for 3.


Tony Pike comes back out and instead of shattering the dreams of the Pitt Panthers, he ruins the shutout that the defense was pitching. He leads the Panthers down the field into field goal range. John Kasay redeems himself for the missed 51-yarder either by drilling one from 51 at the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Kasay's field goal actually happened in the 4th. But for paragraph's sake, it made more sense to put it in the prior one.


Both teams were in preseason mode. The Steelers were in the Stanley Hudson "Run Out the Clock" mode which consisted of running, running, and more running. Carolina was trying to throw the ball to get Tony Pike reps. Dwyer ripped off back to back 36-yard and 21-yarders to get the Steelers into field goal range and put the icing on the cake.


See you in December Panthers.

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Emmanuel Sanders
Defensive Game Ball: Stevenson Sylvester

Honorable Mentions:
Patrick Bailey
Jonathan Dwyer
Daniel Sepulveda
Ryan Mundy
Jeff Reed

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game

Leftwich getting injured

This was a pretty obvious selection for the Mr. Yuck Sticker. You always hate to see someone get injured in the preseason. Even worse when it's your starting quarterback. That being said, we feel like we'll be okay with Dixon at the helm, despite what Ron Cook thinks.

Final Thoughts

  • Preseason is over. Bring on the Falcons.
  • Honestly, we'd rather see Dixon play than Batch. For as bad as our O-line is looking, Batch is going to get killed standing back there.
  • Sad to see Patrick Bailey not make the team. He played a monster game. He's one of those guys that's just always around the ball. He's not going to make big splash plays but he's got a nose for the ball.
  • Stevenson Sylvester looked really good.
  • Pouncey is the real deal. Drafting a tackle next year would be a great idea.
  • Steelers 3-1 record in the preseason forebodes good things. Since 1999, the Steelers have been .500 or better in the preseason 9 times. In each of those 9 seasons, they won 9 or more regular season games. In the 3 seasons they had losing records in the preseason, they were 8-8, 6-10, and 6-10. Winning breeds winning.
  • Go Steelers!

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