Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Man With The Golden Arm: Steelers Win


The Steelers won the toss and deferred to the second half.

Things seemed to start where they left off last week when Chris Johnson took the first carry of the game for 21 yards. This was really all Johnson did all game. He has been so thoroughly unimpressive this season, he might have to change his nickname to CJ1K.  The Titans picked up more yardage on a personal foul penalty on Ryan Clark that should never have been called. There was a false start penalty on Tennessee, but for some reason the joke side judge didn't blow the play dead, an Clark hit Ringer out of bounds. The rule is there to prevent defenders from teeing off on offensive guys after a play is blown dead, but the refs never blew the play dead, so part of the blame here falls on the zebras.

The Titans use the momentum from the penalty to get their offense moving, working their way down inside the 4. Two penalties later (one of them a false start that was actually blown dead), the Titans are looking at 3rd and goal from the 12. Hasselbeck overthrows a receiver that falls over and Farrior gets called for illegal contact, giving Tennessee new life. Nasty Nate goes up the ladder for one in the end zone...
...but Troy lowers the boom on him and knocks the ball out. 

On second down, Woodley absolutely annihilates the fullback trying to block him and throws Hasselbeck and the fullback to the ground like a rag doll.

Troy makes a great play to shed a blocker and bring down CJ1K on a screen, holding Tennessee to 3.


After Antonio Brown ran the opening kick against the Titans back for a TD last year, the threat had to be in Tennessee's mind. Brown faked a reverse to Sanders and found a hole and took the kickoff back across the 50.

 The drive got rolling on 3rd and 9 when Wallace went to the ground and made a great catch that was initially called incomplete. Tomlin challenged and won after the replay clearly showed Wallace got his hands beneath the ball. Redman goes to work and gets us down inside the 30. Ben hit Brown on a slant and he made a few moves to take us inside the 10. Two plays later, Ben pumps finds Heath open at the goal line for the score.


Whatever Dick LeBeau told the defense must have worked, because they came out with a fire under their ass. Chris Hoke, playing for the injured Casey Hampton made a huge difference on the inside. He was getting penetration and shutting down the cut-back lanes. Tennessee did nothing.

Second Quarter

Redman came out hot, keeping his legs moving and picking up a solid first down. The drive seemed to stall out near midfield when Ben's pass for Hines down the seam got tipped away, but Tomlin goes to the Les Miles bag of tricks and calls a fake punt.

Sepulveda lobs a perfect pass to Ryan Mundy over the middle and he scampers down inside the 20.

Arians goes right after them with a nice end-around sweep by Brown to get inside the 10. 007 follows it up by going play-action and hits Hines in the end zone for the score.


Farrior makes a couple nice plays and the defense forces a 3-and-out.

Jonathan Dwyer enters the game as part of the running back rotation and takes his first carry through a giant hole in the right side and down the sideline for 76 yards before being caught from behind by a defender. Dwyer's 76-yard rumble was good for the 7th longest run in Steelers history. If you're wondering, Bobby Gage had a 97-yarder in 1949 against Chicago. It tied the longest run at Heinz Field with Willie Parker's 76-yarder against New Orleans in 2006. 

Redman grinds it out down to the goal line, then Ben goes play-action and has a high-low option with Heath and David Johnson. Heath is covered but 007 hits Johnson at the goal line for the score.


The Titans get moving with a few passes to Damian Williams, but the defense locks it down when Ziggy and Woodley bury Hasselbeck on 3rd down.

The offense comes back and Hines picks up a big first down after the two minute warning. 007 goes to the no huddle and starts picking apart the Titans over the middle of the field with passes to Heath and Hines. Hines moves the chains again then Ben hits Brown on a slant to get us to 3rd and 4 with the clock ticking. Ben runs the team up to the line, signaling spike but calling an audible. Wallace misses the audible call for the WR screen and doesn't even make a move for the pass, which winds up being picked off by Douchebag Finnegan. Gah. We were in field goal range too. Oh well.


Fresh off their football team's big victory over McKeesport, Penn-Trafford's band gives a solid performance in the halftime show.

Third Quarter

The Steelers get 20 yards off the bat on two penalties, but can't do anything else. Ben gets sacked, which pretty much ended the drive.

Chris Hoke just kept blowing up plays in the backfield. What a game. Ryan Clark makes a great tackle on 3rd down to keep Tennessee short of the sticks and force another 3-and-out.

007 comes back with a solid mix of running and passing, hitting Heath again down the seam for another big gain. Redman takes over and grinds out some solid yards to get us down to the 10. Dwyer takes it down to the 5 then on 3rd down 007 hits Hines on a quick slant.

Hines hurdles the defender and leaps into the end zone for the score.


Long commercial break after a third quarter touchdown means it's Renegade time, but all the momentum from the crowd is zapped out when Tennessee challenges an incompletion. The time delay cools the crowd off. The Titans win the challenge and come out with a no huddle offense with Hasselbeck in the shotgun. The Steelers countered with a 3-2-6 look with Woodley, Keisel and Ziggy up front and Farrior and Timmons at linebacker. It says something for how far down the depth chart B-Mac has fallen that he wasn't even in the game in this case, it was Ike-Gay-Lewis and Troy-Clark-Mundy across the back. Hasselbeck finds Nasty Nate one on one with Clark deep and hits him on a post to get down to the 1. CJ1K walks in off-tackle.

Farrior had no chance to beat CJ to the corner.


The Titans try a surprise onside kick. Arnaz Battle gets a great jump on the ball but gets nailed in midair before the ball gets there. Tennessee recovers.

You start to get a little worried but then the defense does what the defense does. The Deisel gets a paw up and tips the ball in the air. With a lineman hanging on his back, Woodley tracks the ball down and snags it for the Steelers first interception of the season.

Woodley was more destructive than the wood chipper from Fargo today.

Dwyer gets a couple carries to wind out the 3rd quarter.

Fourth Quarter

007 keeps rolling into Tennessee territory, mixing runs and passes and utilizing check-downs to get into 3rd and manageable situations. On 3rd and 1, he hits Wallace on a come-back route on the sideline to get down inside the 10. Ben can't hook up with Heath on 2nd and goal and checks down to Dwyer who comes up just short of the goal line on 3rd down. 

Suisham puts us up by 3 touchdowns.

Some fans wanted us to go for it, but the field goal is the right decision there. Go up by 3 TDs.


Hasselbeck goes to the no huddle again and starts picking his way down the field. Near midfield, he barely converts a 3rd and 12 to Nasty Nate. Seemed like Ryan Clark had Nate down short of the sticks, but the Titans were moving and Tomlin didn't get time to see a replay to challenge. The defense locks it down from there with Keenan Lewis making another big play batting a pass away on 4th down.

The Steelers go to the motif offense to try to run some clock. Ben tries to go deep for AB on 3rd down but there's nothing there. The Titans break through the middle of the line and block Sepulveda's punt. Finnegan scoops it up and returns it for a touchdown, but it's brought back on a block in the back call. Crazy the second week a block kick returned for a TD against us was called back on a penalty. Lucky break for us.

The Steelers force a 4th down, but Hasselbeck is able to pick it up by stepping up away from pressure and scrambling for it. 
Cam Heyward rings up the first sack of his career on 3rd down. 

Troy seemingly makes a great play to knock a pass away on 4th down but he gets flagged for a shaky pass interference penalty. Heyward almost picks up his second sack, but Hasselbeck grounds the ball, which is just as good forcing a 3rd and goal from the 19. With nothing to lose, Hasselbeck throws it up and Williams makes a catch on a wheel route down the sideline for the touchdown.

Same play the Ravens used on Boldin's first TD.


Tennessee tries another onside kick, but Manny Sanders comes down with it.

Dwyer gets two carries to burn up Tennessee's last timeout and wind the clock down under 2:40 where a first down would enable us to kneel it out. 007 goes play action and looks at Heath down the seam for the first down, but he's double covered so 007 goes up top for Mike Wallace who blows between two defenders for the 40-yard touchdown.

That was Ben's 10th touchdown pass of 40+ yards to Mike Wallace.

Ben ties the Steelers record for 5 touchdown passes in a game.


The Titans get the ball back and run some plays that don't really matter. The Steelers do a good job keeping them in bounds to keep the clock rolling.


Statement Made.

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Ben Roethlisberger
Defensive Game Ball: LaMarr Woodley

Honorable Mentions:
Max Starks
Hines Ward
Mike Wallace
Jonathan Dwyer
Heath Miller
Troy Polamalu
Brett Keisel
Chris Hoke
James Farrior

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Paul Alexander and 93.7 The Fan

I made the mistake of flipping on The Fan on my way down to tailgate before the game. What a joke. I'm about 90% certain it was Paul Alexander raising the white flag of surrender before the game, but the worst statement went something like this (and I'm paraphrasing): "The Steelers should draft Trent Richardson from Alabama because he is built like Jerome Bettis and we could bring back the Bettis era. It would probably take a Top 10 pick to get Richardson, but that's where we're heading."

Woah, woah, woah. We were 2-2 heading into this game. With Jacksonville, Arizona, St. Louis, Cleveland (twice), and Cincinnati (twice) still on the schedule. Does this clown even know what it takes to get a Top 10 pick? Even the worst that the Steelers have been over the past decade (6-10 in 2003) didn't net them a top 10 pick (we picked 11th in 2004 and took Ben Roethlisberger). Does starting 2-2 really mean we should be looking at next year's draft already? Hell no. Plus, Richardson is listed at 5'11" 225 lbs. Jerome Bettis was 5'11" 250+ lbs. For reference, Isaac Redman is 6'0" 230 lbs. So to say Richardson would bring back the Jerome Bettis era? Gag. I guess this just serves as another reminder why I don't listen to The Fan. All that said, I do love the way Trent Richardson runs, but to compare him to Bettis or to suggest the Steelers should tank games this season to have a shot to draft him gets you the Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game.

Final Thoughts
  • Five touchdowns for Ben on only 228 yards, that's pretty incredible.
  • Jonathan Dwyer with our first 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Great burst and vision by him on the big run down the sideline.
  • Great job by the defense to contain Chris Johnson. He had 21 on his first carry, 9 on a draw on the last play of the first half, and only 21 yards on his other 12 carries.
  • What an effort by Max Starks, playing all but 2 snaps. Ben actually had time to throw and made it count.
  • I'm one of Bruce Arians' biggest critics, but gotta give credit where credit is due, Arians called a very good game today.
  • Isaac Redman only had 49 yards, but he earned every one. He ran hard today.
  • Ben completed passes to 7 different receivers. Wow.
  • Hines backed up his statements that the offense needed to step up with 7 catches, 54 yards, and 2 TDs.
  • How good were Keisel and Hoke? They got penetration, shut off the corner, turned runs back in, and kept CJ1K bottled up.
  • LaMarr Woodley playing some seriously inspired ball. 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 hurries.
  • Farrior was all over the field today, racking up 13 tackles.
  • Cam Heyward is going to be a great player once he learns the defense. He's already contributing.
  • Gay and Lewis have played really well so far this year. Big challenge looming in a few weeks against New England.
  • Statement game. We needed this.

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