Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cruise Control: Steelers Win


This game seemed so typical of how the Steelers have played against inferior opponents in recent years. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a handful of examples of games the Steelers have scored an early touchdown or two then had a drive stall out and settle for a field goal then do nothing the rest of the game. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it seems like our offense has to score touchdowns to maintain their momentum. All that said, we got another win against a team who had never lost at Heinz Field. No complaining about being 4-2. There's still a long way to go in this season.

First Quarter

Steelers win the toss and defer.

Blaine comes out and hits a few passes on simple looks - a quick slant and an out pattern, mixed in with some MJD runs and the Jags are across midfield. Before you can say "I can't believe a rookie is doing this," the Jags make the mistake of trying to block Woodley with a fullback.
Not happening. Huge sack to push them out of field goal range.

They run some WR screen give-up play on 3rd down.

Redman gets things rolling with an 11-yard surge on 3rd and 1. Ben hits Heath to move the sticks again. Mendenhall gets us to 3rd and 3 then 007 rolls away from pressure and finds Manny Sanders wide open on the sideline. Sanders turns it upfield, makes a few moves, and scampers all the way down to the 13. Two plays later, Mendenhall takes one off tackle... Steeler Nemesis Rasheen Mathis to the corner...

...and dives inside the pylon.

Watching Rasheen Mathis get toasted will never get old.



The defense comes out inspired and the Diesel rips through the line on 3rd down and throws down Blaine. The Diesel does the bow-and-arrow "Shoot-'em-down" celebration. How there is no picture of this on the internet, I really don't know.

007 goes right after them and goes deep for Wallace in double coverage. 
Wallace had a step, but Ben underthrew the ball. 

The offense starts clicking when Raise Some gets 12 then Ben hits Hines for another first down to move us into Jacksonville territory. 

Second Quarter

007 hits Hines to convert a 3rd down and keep the drive moving. Two plays later, 007 goes back downtown to Wallace wide open on Grant Street for an easy touchdown.


The defense forces another 3-and-out. Tomlin gets cute with a reverse on the punt return with AB handing off to Sanders, who runs into a crowd. AB had some space if he had hung onto the ball.

Raise Some makes up for it, taking the counter pike play off right tackle then bouncing it back across the field, stiff-arming defenders and rumbling down the sideline all the way down to the 4 yard line. A penalty on Jacksonville gives us the ball at the two. Arians goes to the well with the same play and it goes nowhere. Ben goes play-action and tries to hit Hines on a slant but the ball gets knocked away. On 3rd down, we run a great play with Hines and Brown stacked where Hines cut in and Brown cut out, but Ben's pass is just out of Brown's reach. 

Good play call, just missed on the pass. Brown was open.

Suisham hits it.


The Jags come back and pick up a few first downs on the ground, mixing MJD and Karim. On 3rd down at the Steelers 24, Woodley busts through the line and brings down Blaine again. 
Scobee hits a field goal to put the Jags on the board.


The Steelers had an advantage on the Jags corners and 007 went after it, missing Sanders deep then hooking up with Wallace for a big 48-yarder down the right numbers. That was Wallace's 20th 40+ yard reception of his career. Two penalties on the line put us in a bad situation, but Heath and Redman get some of it back, getting us into field goal range. Suisham shanks one badly to the left into the open end of the stadium.

James Farrior takes things over on the next drive, knocking a pass away from Lewis on second down then laying out Gabbert on 3rd down for the Steelers 4th sack of the first half.

The Steelers grind the clock down to 2 minutes then 007 hits Brown to convert a 3rd down and get the two minute offense going. Rasheen Mathis almost comes up with another pick-6, but Mike Wallace makes a big-time play to knock the ball out of his hands. The offense can't do anything else and Sepulveda smacks a 43-yarder into the wind.

3-and-out city for the defense. Playing the way they should against a bad Jags offense.

Ben kneels out the half.

Third Quarter

The Steelers came out with the wind at their back and needed to capitalize on it and get some more points on the board. Raise Some gets things rolling with two carries in the motif offense and 007 hits Hines for a big 19-yard gain down the seam to convert on 3rd down. That was the last 3rd down conversion we'd have until there were 2 minutes left in the game. Motif offense again and Ben tries to scramble on 3rd down but can't get to the sticks. Punt.

The defense seems to have the Jags locked down when the Steelers call for a punt block. Ryan Mundy gets flagged for roughing the kicker.

Here's the deal - I don't mind calling a punt block. However, I don't see the logic of calling it in this situation. We're up by 14, the Jags haven't scored more than 20 points in a game all season, and they are punting into the wind from their own 20. Chances are we were going to get very good field position out of it and have a chance to put the game away. For the record, it was only a 23-yard punt, and we would've taken over in Jaguars territory with GREAT field position.

However, with the penalty, the Jags had new life and turned it into the MJD show. He got a ton of carries, moving the Jags down the field. Blaine converts a 4th and 3 by scrambling away from Ziggy and picking up the first down with his feet. After getting ground down by MJD, Karim looks like a blur and moves the Jags into the red zone with a 12-yard gain on 3rd and 1. Two plays later, Blaine flings one up and some receiver makes a touchdown grab inside of Ike on a deep post. No clue where the deep safety was on that play.


Instead of getting the ball back with 8 minutes on the clock and the wind at our back, the Jags drive took 9 minutes off the clock and there was only a minute and change left in the 3rd quarter. Rather than trying to use the wind and going to the air, we go to Mendenhall 3 times and wind the quarter out.

Fourth Quarter

Ben tries to hit Heath twice on the right sideline, but can't hook up either time. Punt.

The teams exchange 3-and-outs twice, with Ben getting sacked twice on 3rd down. Troy makes a huge play on 3rd and 1 to come off the edge and take down MJD in the backfield. Jacksonville utilizes the wind and sacks to get a field position advantage. Sepulveda shanks a punt into the wind. 

Jacksonville takes over near midfield and Blaine hits Mercedes Lewis for a big gain with Farrior in coverage. Blaine and Mercedes? Is this an NFL team or an episode of Glee?
This picture is proof you can literally find a picture of ANYTHING on the internet.

The Steelers hold the Jags to a 4th and 3, and in a move that might get Jack Del Rio fired, he opts to kick a field goal rather than going for it with 4 and a half minutes to go in the game.


Pictured: Jack Del Rio crapping his pants when he sees the Steelers defense line up on 4th and 3.

The Steelers get a chance to run out the clock and go motif offense. Raise Some gets us to 3rd and 2 then Ben scrambles for a huge first down, forcing the Jags to use their second timeout with 2:31 to go. 
Raise Some gets us to 3rd and 4 at the 2 minute warning. In a play that was eerily similar to the 3rd and 4 call in 2007 when the Steelers could have ended the game with a first down and opted for a QB sneak (which resulted in a punt and the Jags coming back and thanks to the David Garrard Play, kicking the game-winning field goal), Ben tries to roll out and gets sacked. Punt.

The Jags take over with 1:01 left and no timeouts. The Diesel gives the Jags line the Beard treatment and throws down Gabbert for a huge sack that winds a lot of time off the clock. Gabbert gets it back on a scramble that he gets out of bounds then MJD picks up a first down and gets out of bounds. The Steelers back off the coverage and only rush 3, giving Gabbert the time to find Thomas across the middle as time ticks down into single digits. Gabbert spikes the ball at midfield with 2 seconds left on the clock. He gets one final heave for the end zone, but Clark and Ike are closer than any Jaguar and they knock it out the back of the end zone. 


We live to fight another day.

Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball: Rashard Mendenhall
Defensive Game Ball: Brett Keisel

Honorable Mentions:
LaMarr Woodley
Troy Polamalu
James Farrior
Mike Wallace
Steve McLendon

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Second Half

Whether the Steelers let off the intensity or the wind played a factor, I can't say. However, after a first half where we had 4 scoring chances, we didn't even sniff Jaguars territory in the second half. We only moved the chains 4 times, and converted 2 third downs. Not how you finish games. Won't be able to afford a second half like that against a good team.

Final Thoughts
  • What a game by Keisel. 2 sacks, 1 pass deflected that was almost intercepted by Ziggy, plugging holes in run defense. The Beard is playing at a Pro Bowl level right now.
  • Speaking of Ziggy, he had 2 chances at interceptions, but that's why he plays defensive line.
  • Troy missed the end of the game because of concussion-like symptoms, but he's been cleared to play this week.
  • Chris Hoke had a stinger, but Steve McLendon did a really good job filling in for him.
  • We are very critical of Bruce Arians, but after watching the Jets-Dolphins game on Monday night, we can definitively say that Arians is not the worst offensive coordinator in the league. In fact, he might not even be in the bottom five.
  • The Jaguars haven't scored over 20 points all season. The Steelers could've used some points in the third quarter to really put the game away. Missed an opportunity there.
  • Hope Troy is okay. We're going to need him in Arizona.
  • Mendenhall won AFC Offensive Player of the Week. No other back on the team makes that touchdown run. 
  • That said, I am in favor of giving Redman (and Dwyer) a few more carries, just to help share the load and not have Mendenhall burn out. But Mendenhall is our #1 back. Case closed.
  • If you had told me before the season we would go 3-1 against the AFC South, I would've taken it. Gauntlet of the schedule coming up here. Get ready.

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