Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sour Apples: Steelers Lose


At the end of the day, the Steelers clinched a playoff spot. And at this point in the season, that's more important than winning a game. There were several positives that came out of this. We know we can run the ball on the Jets. We know Troy will be healthy for the playoffs. Aaron Smith should also be back. We still control our own destiny for the #2 seed and get to finish out the season against Carolina (2-12) and Cleveland (5-9).

The Steelers won the toss and deferred. The Jets only captain for the coin toss was Santonio.

Brad Smith makes the Steelers kick unit look like it's the 2009 version and splits a seam and takes it all the way to the house.


Ben converts a 3rd down with his feet, but the motif offense stalls things out.

Mark Sanchez sucks. The crowd boos Santonio when his name is called. Don't really understand that. He was a good player for us, won us a Super Bowl, but was a distraction. It's not like he left town on a bad note.

The refs showed early that Pass Interference wasn't in their repertoire of calls. Cromartie grabs onto the back of Wallace's jersey and...no flag. Punt.

The Jets are able to move the ball downfield mostly on the ground, keeping the ball out of Sanchez's hands. A holding call knocks the Jets out of field goal range and the defense holds.

Second Quarter

The Steelers discover they can run the ball on the Jets and start picking their way downfield. Matt Spaeth drops a two passes but Manny Sanders makes up for it with two big 3rd down grabs to keep the drive rolling. The drive looks like it might stall out when Ben gets sacked, pushing us out of field goal range, but Ben is able to find Hines on 3rd down for an 18-yard gain with a generous spot gets us the first down. Sanders gets us down to the 10 and two plays later Spaeth atones for his drops and hauls in a touchdown grab.


Brad Smith rips off another good return, and the Jets take advantage of the short field. Sanchez hits Braylon Edwards deep over B-Mac to get the Jets into striking distance. The defense holds with a tip by the Diesel and an open-field tackle by B-Mac.


The Steelers come right back with Ben running the 2-minute offense. They pick their way down the field, not even facing a 3rd down until they get into Jets territory. Another missed Pass Interference call. Suisham stays perfect in black and gold.


The Jets get the ball back with 30 seconds left, but Sanchez throws the ball away rather than throwing for the end zone as time expires in the half.

Third Quarter

The Steelers got the ball to start the second half and Ben went right to work, picking and choosing his matchups, finding receivers not being covered by Revis or Cromartie. The Steelers were able to shift guys around nicely, moving Wallace and Ward to the same side of the field to get matchups for Wallace and Sanders while Revis was tailing Ward. Wallace had 3 big catches on the drive, including a big 23-yarder down the middle. After Wallace hauls in another one to get within field goal range, Mendenhall is able to get to the corner and take it all the way down to the 5. Two plays later, Tomlin sends in Legursky and Keisel as blockers and Mendenhall plows in.



The Jets come right back with a counter-punch, aided by a gift call from the referees when Edwards makes a leaping catch at the Steelers 31 and Ryan Clark runs through him. Here's the deal. Braylon is 6'3". Ryan is 5'11". If Braylon is in the air, and Clark is on the ground, there is no possible way for there to be a helmet-to-helmet hit. Unless, of course, you're an NFL official. The worst part of it was, the flag came from the ref that was standing in the backfield who was probably the furthest one away from the play. The defense looks to have done their job when B-Mac stops Tone short of the sticks on 3rd down, but Rex rolls the dice and calls a naked bootleg and Sanchez is able to walk into the end zone. Great call. Harrison totally bit on the play-action.


The Steelers come right back with Mendenhall grinding out some solid gains and Mike Wallace converting another 3rd down. However, the drive stalls out around midfield when the refs turn a blind eye to Antonio Brown being interfered with.

Fourth Quarter

The Jets come right back, grinding it out and going to the air on 3rd down, where Sanchez is able to convert, dodging a blitzing Ryan Mundy and finding Braylon Edwards across the middle for a big 16-yarder. Three plays later, LT gets the call on a draw play and moves the chains again. The defense stacks things up and Willie Gay makes a play on Sanchez to bring him down short of the sticks on a 3rd down scramble. The Jets take the lead with a field goal.


The Steelers needed to answer but the drive halts on a sack-fumble where Flozell picks it up and tries to run with it. 

The Jets take over with 7 minutes left and just keep grinding. It was a time when the defense needed to make a play but just couldn't. Damn we miss Troy. The Jets were able to grind it down to just under 3 minutes before punting and pinning us back at the 3.

From the 3, Arians decides to call a sprint draw to the right with Kemoeatu pulling. Not a great idea to run sideways out of your own end zone, but it gets compounded when Jonathan Scott completely whiffs on a block and Jason Taylor springs untouched into the backfield to pull down Mewelde Moore in the end zone. 

Terrible situational football right there.


The free kick gives the Jets the ball with 2:38 to play. The Steelers burn 2 timeouts and Sanchez gives us a gift on 3rd down by throwing incomplete and stopping the clock. They punt back to the Steelers with just over 2:00 to play.

Ben takes matters into his own hands--or feet--and scrambles off the right side for a big 22 yard gain to get things rolling and get us out of the shadow of our own goalposts. Ben keeps looking for Manny Sanders and he hauls one in for 11. Two plays later, Ben gets sacked and fumbles, but luckily scoops it up, leaving the Steelers with a 3rd and 24. They use their last timeout to set up a play, and Ben finds Manny Sanders down the middle who turns it up field and moooooves the chains. 
HUGE play by Sanders. 

After a spike and incompletion, Ben hits Wallace to move the chains once more and get us into scoring range. After another spike, Ben goes for Sanders down the seam who gets groped from behind, but no flag.

Going to have to send in Stabler & Benson to investigate what happened there.

On 3rd and 10 from the 26, AB comes up bigtime with a grab to get us down to the 10. The rookies really shone through on this drive. Ben spikes it to stop the clock with 9 seconds left. Ben pumps, looks for the back of the end zone where Sanders is open but Spaeth's route brings him across the pass and he gets a hand on it, knocking it out of Sanders' reach with 2 ticks to play. With one shot left, Ben rolls out to the left away from pressure while Wallace waves his arms in the middle of the end zone. Ben doesn't see him and tries to force one to Spaeth on the sideline that he can't hang on to.


Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Mike Wallace
Defensive Game Ball: Brett Keisel

Honorable Mentions:
Rashard Mendenhall
Emmanuel Sanders
Ben Roethlisberger
Maurkice Pouncey
Flozell Adams

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game

Bush-league Gimmicks by PA Announcer Randy Cosgrove

This has been getting on my nerves for a few games now. Obviously, "Renegade" is what it is. We all know it and what it means. But the Steelers have seemingly been trying to build off the success of Renegade and get the fans more involved at other points in the game. Not really sure why they're doing this, but the result has been stupid gimmicks that would be better suited for a Pirates game where everyone in the stadium isn't watching what's going on. But let's be honest. "Terrible Towel Time"? Terrible idea. We're f-ing Steelers fans. We know when to swing our Terrible Towels. We don't need to be told when to do it. PA announcer Randy Cosgrove doesn't need to make a name for himself by running gimmicks like the "First Down" one either. There are video montages for that. You can just say "First Down Steelers!" enthusiastically and the crowd will cheer. You don't need to do the lame-ass "And that's another Steelers......First Down!" Someone at Heinz Field must have been reading Pavlov about how to classically condition people, because by the end of the game, Randy cuts it off at "Steelers," leaving it to the fans to finish. It's not a horrible idea, but it's a stupid gimmick, like the Wave, that has no place at a Steelers game.

But the one that really got me was Renegade. If you have season tickets, or have been to games in the past, you know what the deal is. The screen goes black for a few seconds while they cue the video up. Some fans (like myself) start to stand and cheer because they know what's coming. So what really got me was, when the screen went black, rather than just playing the video and letting it do its thing (which has proven to work in the past), Randy took it on himself to say, "Steelers fans, check the video board..." ........Really?! Like we didn't know what was coming when the whole stadium went quiet and the screen went black? Come on. That's bush-league garbage right there. Steelers fans are probably the most knowledgeable fanbase in the country. It's not like all 60,000 people are there at the stadium for the first time. And if it is their first time, don't you think they'd have more fun learning how things roll from their fellow fans than from Randy Cosgrove? Honestly, this stuff has no place at a Steelers game. Play the video montages, tell us the down, distance, and player, and we'll be perfectly happy.

Final Thoughts
  • Short week, good thing we have the Panthers. Then again, we were saying the same thing about the Browns last year. 
  • The offensive line had their best game of the year. Ben still got sacked a few times, but they did a much better job giving him more time to throw.
  • I love the way Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown are progressing.
  • Mendenhall had 100 yards on 17 carries. Kinda makes you wonder why he didn't see more carries and why Mewelde Moore was in the game on out next-to-last drive.
  • I still would like to see Redman get more carries too. 
  • With Revis on Hines, Ben did a nice job of finding other receivers in good matchups.
  • Can Santa bring Matt Spaeth a pair of hands for Christmas? I counted 4 drops. 
  • Big game for the Deisel batting down 2 passes at the line.
  • At the end of the day, we're going back to the playoffs.
  • The Jets are a decent team, and this was more or less an evenly fought game. We had a shot to win at the end but didn't convert. Can't ask for more than a chance to win.
  • We still control our own destiny. Bring on the Panthers.

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