Monday, September 19, 2011

Back on Track: Steelers Win


Before I get rolling with the game recap, I should note that I ran into the Mayor of 606 before the game. Great omen for the season. We did one of our old chants from the Three Rivers days for good luck. Apparently it worked.

Pregame: Tomlin telling Carroll our defense is better than anything he saw in the Pac 10.

REO Speedwagon sang the national anthem. Of the 5 guys in the band, only 1 of them sang. None of them had instruments, but they all had mics. Kind of weird to see the other 4 guys just standing there for the anthem.

The Steelers won the toss and took the ball.

First Quarter

We try to come out firing with a play-action pass, but good coverage downfield forces a dump-off. The Seahawks were keying on Wallace and Ward all game, double covering them pretty much every play. Ben takes advantage of this hitting Sanders wide open over the middle to convert a 3rd down and get things rolling. Two plays later, Ben takes a shot over the top for Wallace, but underthrows him. Wallace does a good job drawing the pass interference call in the end zone. Half of Seattle slits their wrists seeing another pass interference call in the end zone not go their way.

With first and goal from the 1, we try to pound it in but get stuffed. Ben tries play-action on second down but gets sacked by an unblocked corner. On 3rd and goal, we go 5 wide and Ben tries to do it himself but comes up just shy of the goal line. The other half of Seattle gets out their knives on a Ben-at-the-goalline play, but he's ruled short. The Steelers go for it on 4th and inches and instead of a QB sneak, they try to run Mendenhall parallel to the line and he gets hit in the backfield and can't quite stretch the ball across the line.

Tomlin wastes a timeout challenging whether Mendy got over the line. He didn't.

Seattle's offense sucks.

The running game gets rolling as Mendenhall rips off two 9-yard runs to get us into Seattle territory. Arians gets a little cute and runs the Randle El End Around Receiver Pass with Sanders throwing a dart to Hines. Nice pass by Sanders with a guy in his face. With the ball at the 15, Mendenhall takes over. He needs 2 carries to get it down to the 1 then punches it in over the right side for the score.



Mendy went over the right guard that time. Tried to go left twice at the goal line on the previous series and failed. 

Seattle gets a first down, but a holding penalty pretty much ends their drive.

The Steelers come right back at it, pounding Isaac Redman at the 'Hawks defense. 

Second Quarter

Ben converts a 3rd down with a check-down to Moore. After a nice catch and run by Wallace, Redman gets the rock again and breaks through a hole in the line, puts a move on a safety and rumbles into the end zone for the score.


The Steelers have taken to playing Born to Run after any rushing touchdown. Great moment after Redman's touchdown when it seemed like most of the lower bowl was doing to "Woah Oh Oh Ohhhhs" together during the end of Born to Run. 

Seattle keeps building and gets 3 first downs and actually moves across midfield for a moment before a false start sends them back.

After two rushing touchdowns, 007 comes out looking to do some gunslinging.  He hits Wallace, Sanders, and Mendenhall on a check-down to move out across midfield. Mendenhall and Redman grind out some yards before Ben hits Heath down the sideline who plows down to the 5. Ben got hit low on the play and it drew a roughing the passer flag.

They didn't show any replays at the game (probably to not incite the crowd), so I can't really say how bad it was. The response on Twitter made it sound rough.

Homestead Charlie came in to hand off twice and we got nowhere. After the two minute warning, Ben came back in and rather than handing off, goes play-action and almost throws a pick while getting clobbered by a blitzer. Not exactly the best way to protect your franchise passer Bruce.

Suisham nails it.


Seattle does nothing with the ball. (You may be noticing a pattern here. Yes, their offense is that bad.)


University of Marshall Band. Solid show.

Third Quarter

The second half starts without much fanfare as the teams trade 3-and-outs. Seattle breaks the streak by getting 1 first down but winds up punting anyways.

The Steelers come back and start to go to work on holes Seattle showed earlier in the game. The first of these was the safeties playing deep and the 'Hawks stacking the low box with linebackers, leaving the middle of the field open. Ben starts working the slant routes and posts. He hits a big one to Antonio Brown on 2nd and 20 after a chipping penalty to almost move the sticks. On 3rd down, Ben scrambles away from pressure and is able to hit Hines who tip-toes on the sidelines to get the ball inside the 5.
That's more impressive than anything you'll see on Dancing with the Stars.

Two plays later, Ben lobs a fade up for Wallace for their first touchdown of the season.

Perfectly thrown ball.


Another 3-and-out from the Seahawks gives the Steelers a chance to add to their lead. The drive looks like it's going to stall, but on 3rd and long Ben fires a bomb downfield and Mike Wallace makes a shoe-string catch with his fingers closing on the back half of the ball for a big 54-yarder.

Not sure these pictures even really do the catch justice. What a grab.

A holding penalty and a sack puts us in 3rd and forever. 

Fourth Quarter

Brown gets us back into field goal range, but Suisham misses it to the right.

Another 3-and-out from Seattle and another punt.

Arians goes to the motif offense with just under 13 minutes to go in the game to run some clock.

Larry Foote throws down T-Jax at the start of the next drive.

But the Hawks overcome the sack and pick up a first down. Utilizing short passes, the Hawks are able to get the ball across midfield but Steve McLendon gets some pressure for his first sack of the season.

Woodley picks up half a sack, giving him 1.5 through 2 games. 

Seattle works their way back to a 4th and 4 at the Steelers 26, but Jackson tries to roll out and James Harrison is home, racking up his first sack of the season.
What a picture.

Not shown: the giant brown stain on the bottom of Jackson's pants after getting decked by Harrison.

Interesting that the Seahawks best drive was the one on which the Steelers had 3 sacks.

Motif offense city. Run-run-pass. Punt.

Seattle starts moving again, but Potsie comes up with a huge 3rd down sack where Jackson just lays down Manning-style, forcing another punt.

The motif offense finally is able to move the sticks when Ben hits Brown on 3rd down. With just a few too many ticks on the clock, the Steelers still aren't able to kill it, but Redman seals the deal with two solid carries to move the sticks once again and end it.

Victory formation.


Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Mike Wallace
Defensive Game Ball: Troy Polamalu

Honorable Mentions:
Ben Roethlisberger
Rashard Mendenhall
Isaac Redman
Emmanuel Sanders
LaMarr Woodley
Steve McLendon
Larry Foote
James Harrison
James Farrior
Ike Taylor

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Coming up empty after 1st and goal from the 1

Besides the result of the first drive, there wasn't a whole lot to complain about from this game. However, to get turned away at the goal line after having first and goal stings a little. Ben got close, but the real question comes from the 4th down play call. I don't mind the decision to go for it on 4th down, but why give it to Mendenhall? When you only need an inch, QB sneak seems like the best call. If you are going to run, run it straight ahead, don't run a play that requires the back to run parallel to the line of scrimmage for part of the play.

Final Thoughts
  • This was a good way to get back on track, but let's not kid ourselves, Seattle was a really bad team.
  • Seattle hasn't scored a point against Pittsburgh since Super Bowl XL. They haven't scored in Pittsburgh since 1999 which means they might be the only team in the league to never score a point at Heinz Field.
    • Seattle beat the Steelers 29-10 in 1999, but their two touchdowns were on an interception return and a punt return, both of which occurred in the first quarter of that game. This means Seattle hasn't been in the end zone in Pittsburgh in over 11 quarters.
    • Seattle's offense hasn't scored a touchdown in Pittsburgh since September 27, 1998 when Warren Moon threw a TD pass to Christian Fauria in the second quarter, meaning their offense hasn't reached the end zone in Pittsburgh in over 14 quarters.
  • Seattle didn't get closer to the end zone than the 26. Only two drives made it across midfield and on one of those a false start pushed them back on the other side so they didn't even get a play off on the Steelers side of the field.
  • Mike Wallace said he wanted 2,000 yards this year, which would mean he needs to average 125 per game. He has 233 through two games, so he's keeping close pace with where he needs to be.
  • After what seemed like a scary hit on Ben, he bounced back for a great second half. Let's hope there aren't any lingering problems after the adrenaline wears off.
  • Great to see the Steelers utilizing both Mendenhall and Redman to keep them both fresh. 113 yards rushing between the two of them today.
  • Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown. Man, I just can't say enough good stuff about these guys. Mike Wallace is a bona fide star in the league, but these guys are going to be great in their own rights. The whole Young Money crew is going to be great to watch this year.
  • Didn't talk about him in the recap, but Troy played a great game. Had a sack, almost had a pick-6, and was great in run support. Great bounce-back game after getting picked on a little last week.
  • The offensive line is still shaky at best. Foster played well at LG filling in for Kemoeatu. Jonathan Scott wasn't very impressive. Marcus Gilbert missed some blocks, but had an okay game.
  • William Gay had a decent outing starting for B-Mac. 
  • How good is Ike Taylor? I think there was only 1 pass even thrown in his direction today. He pretty much nullified Mike Williams. Rack that up was the second WR he has pretty much shut out.
  • I'm critical of Arians when he makes bad decisions, so I should praise him when he does something good. He made a good halftime adjustment to start working the quick slants and posts to Wallace and Brown to take advantage of the LBs playing up and the safeties sitting deep.
  • Gotta keep this momentum rolling next week in Indy. Can't take anything for granted right now.
  • Baltimore lost today, so the window is open for us to take the division lead next week.

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