Monday, September 26, 2011

Defense Does It Again: Steelers Win


First Quarter

Steelers win the toss and elect to receive.

The Steelers come out firing, going play-action and hitting Wallace down the sideline. Arians goes right to the WR screen and Wallace makes some guys miss, getting 30 yards down the sideline. The drive fizzles out and Suisham nails a 48-yarder to get us on the board.


The Colts respond by coming out throwing short quick passes and running a no huddle to nullify the Steelers pass rush. The defense locks it down and forces a punt.

Arians busts out the motif offense, and Ben hooks up with Brown down the seam for a big third down conversion to get across midfield. The offense can't do anything else and Sepulveda pins the Colts inside the 15.

The Steelers look to have things locked down, but Collins steps up in the pocket on 3rd down and hits Garcon across the middle for a conversion. The Colts do nothing else.

After a run that gets a few, Ben goes downtown and hits Wallace in stride and he blows past the safety and the corner and high steps all the way to the end zone for an 81-yard touchdown. 

What a grab.


The Colts come out and crap on themselves, with Troy absolutely blowing up a play in the backfield.

The Steelers find themselves in another third and long, which Ben converts hitting Heath down the seam.

Second Quarter

Ben converts another 3rd and 7 with another big-time pass to Brown down the middle, moving the sticks again and getting near midfield. The offense once again does nothing on first and second down, leaving us in third and long. Ben tries to roll left but Mathis gets him from behind and knocks the ball out. Colts recover.

The Steelers hold the Colts into third and long, but Collins converts with a pass to Air Bud. The Colts offense starts rolling with a WR screen to Wayne and a run by Addai gets them inside the red zone. Collins keeps working the short passes, and another screen to Wayne gets them inside the 5. After a holding call, Troy makes two huge plays by the goal line, including a 3rd down pass breakup on a fade to Clark.


Ben hits Brown down the sideline to get the drive rolling. A holding penalty sets us back, but 007 converts a 3rd and 13 with another pass to Brown down the sideline to get to midfield. On 2nd and 10, Ben gets hit by Freeney from the backside, knocking the ball out. The Colts scoop it up and take it all the way back. 

Jonathan Scott getting rocked by Dwight Freeney all game. Yikes.


Ben tries to go downtown on the first play and badly overthrows Sanders, getting the ball picked off. Sanders runs right past the safety and the Colts bring it back then get a personal foul penalty gives them the ball in the red zone.

The Colts don't do much, but it's an easy chip shot for Vinatieri.



Colts had all 13 points off turnovers and the Steelers shortest 3rd down was 3rd and 7.

Third Quarter

The Colts are able to pick up a few first downs, including one near midfield on a gift where Air Bud looked to be stopped short. The defense locks it down after that and forces a punt.

The Steelers come out with the exact same gameplan of running on first down. Wallace is able to move the sticks on 2nd and long on an out, then Mendenhall is able to get to the second level for the only time and move the chains again. Raise Some starts rolling, getting us to 3rd and short on a draw play. Ben sneaks it for the first down. 007 converts another 3rd and long with a huge pass to Heath down the middle. The Steelers get to the edge of the red zone, but come up short on 3rd down.

Suisham hits the post.

Luckily, the Colts offense can't do anything.

The Steelers FINALLY do something different on first down and go play-action with Ben hitting Heath down the seam for a big gain to get across midfield. The Steelers are able to pick up a first down thanks to a pass interference call.

Fourth Quarter

Jonathan Scott gets called for his 10th penalty in 11 games, but 007 bails us out by rolling left and hitting Manny Sanders to convert a 3rd and 18. Wow. Huge play. Another first down run gets nothing and we wind up in 3rd and long again. Arians play-calling has been so blatantly obvious in this game, it's painful. Ben's pass for Sanders almost gets picked, and Suisham connects from 44 to tie the game.


Curtis Painter comes in for Indy. He hands off twice then goes for a wide open Garcon, but luckily Painter sucks and badly overthrows it.

Antonio Brown finally gets a chance to return one and breaks it up the sidelines, bringing it back inside the 35.

Jonathan Scott is more of a liability than an asset at this point. He fails as a lead blocker for Mendenhall, then commits a penalty on 3rd down then gives up a sack, knocking us out of field goal range. Punt.

The Colts go to the ground and start getting solid gains from Addai. The Colts try to go to the air, but Curtis Painter is like Microsoft Paint to Collins' Adobe Photoshop.
When I posted this analogy on Twitter, some people asked what that makes Peyton Manning. Manning would be Final Cut Pro in this analogy.

Brown makes some moves and brings it back to the 35, but the offense still can't get out of it's own way, and goes 3-and-out.

After Harrison looks to get held on a run up the middle, he goes apeshit on the tackle and wrecks MS Painter from behind, knocking the ball out.

Troy is on the spot to pick it up and scamper in the end zone.




MS Painter completes his first pass of the game, then starts to get rolling, converting a 3rd down to Air Bud then hits Garcon down the sideline to get across midfield. Painter keeps going  after Keenan Lewis and hits Garcon again on the sideline to get down to the 25. A run and another pass to Garcon gets inside the 10. Troy almost blows up the play in the backfield, but Addai slips away and is able to scamper into the end zone for the tying score.


The Steelers get the ball with 2:09 on the clock and 80 yards to go. Ben hits Wallace on a slant to take us down to two minutes. Hines reels one in to get across the 35. Two plays later, 007 hits Moore in the flat and he makes a move and takes it down the sideline to get across midfield. The pocket collapses around Ben but he steps out of pressure and is able to scramble up the middle for 10 more. 

Jonathan Scott goes down with an ankle injury so the already banged-up Marcus Gilbert has to come back in to patch up the already battered Maginot Line.
Looks like we're bringing this graphic back out of retirement.

Moore is able to pick up 5 off right tackle and the Colts take a timeout. Moore dives up the middle and gets us to 3rd and 1. Redman picks it up. In a strange coaching decision, Tomlin calls timeout with 12 seconds left with the ball in the middle of the field. Ben takes the snap and dives to the left to get the ball closer to the left hash. Not sure why. Then Tomlin takes a timeout with 8 seconds left.

Suisham nails it.


With 4 seconds left, Suisham nails the kickoff out of the end zone to prevent a return.

Curtis Painter throws the ball at someone's feet on the last play of the game. 

Whew. Escape city. 

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

Honorable Mentions:
James Harrison
Ben Roethlisberger
Antonio Brown
Heath Miller
Shaun Suisham
Mewelde Moore
Trai Essex

Mr. Yuck Stickers of the Game

This game left such a bad feeling in our stomach, we had to give two of these.

Offensive Play-calling

Bruce Arians completely lacked any creativity tonight. Everything the Steelers ran was predictable. Almost every set of plays was a first down run, second down pass on 2nd and long, then either a 3rd and long or start over with a first down. Freeney and Mathis were destroying our tackles, but we rarely gave them any help with a tight end or running back to help slow down the outside pass rush. We went play-action once on first down and Ben was able to hit a big pass to Heath Miller, but we never went back to it. Wallace had a huge touchdown on a deep pass in the first quarter, but we never tried to test the safeties over the top again. It seemed like anything that worked, Arians crossed it off and didn't call it again. However, the plays that didn't work seemed to get circled and run again and again. Ben did a great job of creating more time with his feet and converting some long third downs but that doesn't change the fact that the play-calling was predictable and horrendous.

Jonathan Scott

Max Starks and Flozell Adams were salary cap casualties this offseason. And now we're paying the price. Jonathan Scott is more of a liability than an asset being in the game. He got utterly wrecked by Dwight Freeney tonight. He didn't even do much to slow Freeney down. At best, Scott was a turnstile between the line of scrimmage and the quarterback. At worst, he was like Casper the ghost trying to stop anyone. We need a new LT ASAP. Can't afford waiting. Ben had two fumbles tonight, one of which was Scott's fault. There were numerous other plays, both running and passing, that Scott just absolutely blew.

Final Thoughts
  • A win is a win, but this was ugly. The offensive play-calling was just horrendous, but you're probably tired of reading about that by now.
  • Man, we're lucky that Curtis Painter sucks.
  • Chalk this up as another game that the defense bailed the offense out. And people threw a fit when James Harrison made mention of the defense bailing out the offense in that article over the summer.
  • Speaking of Harrison, aren't we SO glad that the Steelers listened to Gerry Dulac and Mike Vukovcan over the summer and cut Harrison after that article came out? Oh wait, they didn't? Oh wait, media folk make terrible general managers? Where have I seen that played out before....
Oh, right.
  • Three linemen got injured in this game (Gilbert, Legursky, Scott). Gilbert came back in. Hope Colbert still has Max Starks on the speed dial.
  • How many good things can we say about Mike Wallace? Man, this guy is a star in the league. With his 144 yards tonight, he's back on pace for 2000 this season.
  • Huge game for Heath Miller. He was owning the middle of the field, great to see him getting involved in the offense again.
  • Steelers third downs yardage: 8, 10*, 7, 11, 7*, 7*, 11, 13*, 1*, 10*, 6, 3*, 18*, 9, 13, 8, 1* (* = converted). Their average distance on third down was 8.4 yards to go. Yikes.
  • We need help at LT. Big time. It's not going to get any easier with Scott facing Mario Williams next week.
  • Hope B-Mac can go next week, not so much because William Gay has been bad, but because Gay is much, much better than Keenan Lewis playing in the nickel package. Lewis is getting picked on all over the field when he's in there.
  • At the end of the day, a win is a win, but this isn't one we really feel good about. But you can't substitute anything for winning, and we're 2-1 heading into a big game against Houston.


Justin Warrenfeltz said...

Right-footed Kickers usually like the ball on the left hash because the ball tends to pull right on field goals, and if you're on the left hash, you're less likely to pull the ball wide right and miss the kick.

Neur0genesis said...

Great Scott! Err, scratch that. I said it before and I'll say it again, we didn't make it through that one Scott free. I feel like calling him "Scott the Dot." He takes our O-line and makes it more like a dotted line.

Alright, enough ripping on him. I doubt I could do any better. Hope he's OK.

The Steelers n'at Staff said...

Justin - That makes sense, I just thought it was an interesting choice to go left hash considering Suisham had missed from the left hash earlier in the game.

Neur0 - I almost titled the game recap "Great Scott" but I couldn't come up with enough Back to the Future references to make it work. Picture of Doc Brown would have been clutch though. Fail city on my part...I might keep that reference in the bag for later, I'm sure I'll be able to use it at some point this year.

Fred Zarguna said...

Couple of points. First the obvious: this effort will be a loss against Houston [and against any other team not in the NFC West.]

Troy is playing the game we need him to play if we’re going to win. I’d like to see him used against Brady the way he was used in this game: a safety blitz against the three step drop hasn’t been tried, at least by us.

Heath Miller is finally being used effectively. Yahoo!

Play calling; has been mentioned but it can’t be said often enough. Brutally tedious. Painfully unimaginative. Packing the ball in between the tackles twice [or once, with a holding penalty followed by a screen] is not cutting it. If we can get 7+ yards on 2/3 of our third down situations, there’s no reason why we can’t do that on first down.

Well, actually, there is a reason, and its initials are BA.

Rashard Mendenhall hasn’t been the same since the Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden. [OK, maybe it’s since the Super Bowl. Whatever.] The solution is quite obvious to anyone not actually named Bruce: bring Mewlede and Redmond in a lot sooner. They can easily rush for 1.2 yards per carry as well as Mendenhall can.

It’s sad to say, but Aaron Smith is no longer the defensive lineman he was. This would be way less of a problem if Casey Hampton still was. But he isn’t either. We’re looking very Bengal-like against the run. Not good.

Ben: still Ben, let’s face it. He is what he is. We have to get him some protection. Even so, after what are now two fairly ugly performances around the midpoint of the game clock, Ben has failed to come back. He got worse after his gaffes in Baltimore. He did almost nothing after his flubs in this game. He can’t very well yell at his teammates to get their heads in the game if he’s unable to pull it off himself.

I never thought I’d be glad to see Trai Essex back. But Jonathan Scott has actually screwed up more plays in three games than Trai has ruined in his whole career, and that’s saying something. Many of us had high hopes for Scott after his nine starts last year, but as is so often the case when performance is so thoroughly inept, “hope” must soon give way to “change.” Time for Scott to go. Drag a hundred dollar bill through a biker bar and see if anyone who chases it can pass a drug test. If so, he should have no problem turning in a better game. That all said, I hope he’s OK and can return for play with the practice squad soon.

The BIG STORY, is, sadly, an OLD STORY. Our O-line sucks. Period. When your guys can’t run block, can’t pass block, can’t turn on defensive ends who’re smaller than they are -- in short, when NOTHING is being done right on the line – just as when the acting is as uniformly bad as, say, The Return of the Jedi,

you can’t just blame the actors. It’s time to put the director’s head on the block as well. Kugler, we hardly knew ye; shape up or start working on your resume.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom – almost always wrong anyway, and almost always TOTALLY wrong in sports -- the Steelers still have lots of talent that’s still young enough to be playoff caliber, and as all Stiller fans know, they’ve been squeaking out wins that were supposed to be blowouts since Brad was quarterback. Nevertheless, their play is sloppy and undisciplined, and especially on offense they aren’t playing like AFC Champs.

Tomlin needs to start kicking some ass.