Monday, December 19, 2011

Gold Rushed: Steelers Lose


The start of the game is delayed due to a power outage in the stadium.

When it finally is football time, the 49ers win the toss and defer.

Ben comes out looking sharp, hitting Heath to convert an early 3rd down and make Heath the Steelers career leader in receptions by a tight end, passing Elbe Nickel. Ben hits Wallace on a slant and he is able to pinball off a few defenders and take off down the sideline for a big gain to get us into scoring range. Two plays later, Ben gets greedy and tries to hit Wallace on a post route but Carlos Rogers undercuts the route and picks off the ball at the goal line.

The 49ers come back pounding the rock giving Alex Smith easy passes. They move out past midfield on a series of 5-yard out routes. Gore carries them down into the red zone then Smith converts a 3rd down with a pass to Crabtree to get down to the 3. Troy blitzes off the edge on 3rd down and Smith visibly flinches, forcing a bad pass.

Akers hits a field goal.


All Antonio Brown does is convert 3rd downs, and he does it again to get the drive moving. Mendenhall churns out another then Ben goes play-action and has all kinds of time to throw but overthrows Heath and the ball gets picked off.

Probably the worst throw Ben has made since the first Ravens game.

Second Quarter

The 49ers take over with great field position and Smith converts a 3rd and 7 with a pass to Harry Potter's Uncle. The defense tightens down and holds to a field goal.


Lights out.
A fan runs on the field and Ben makes a quip about "Where's James Harrison when you need him?" The ESPN guys take the opportunity to tell us why Ben shouldn't play any more.

When the lights come back on, it's the Rashard Mendenhall show, picking up solid yardage on a dump-down from Ben and on a few carries. Ben converts a 3rd down by zipping a ball in to Heath, but 2 penalties afterwards leave us with a 1st and 25. Ben gets sacked but a penalty in the secondary gives us a gift first down. Ben keeps things rolling converting his 4th 3rd down of the game with a pass to Wallace on a drag route. The drive stalls out at midfield when Ben misses on 3 throws. Kapinos pins them inside the 15.

The 49ers convert another 3rd down on another out-route. Alex Smith scrambles for a first down to get them near the 40. The same combination of out-route/pound Gore gets the 49ers another first down near midfield as the clock hits 2 minutes. A chop block penalty derails the drive and the 49ers punt.

Starting at the 5, Mewelde Moore takes a draw play to the left and catches a huge block from Max Starks to spring him down the sideline for a big 20-yarder. Ben comes back and hits AB on a crossing route and he scampers out to the 45. Wallace gets us across midfield then AB converts another 3rd down. Ben hits Moore to get us into a 2nd and 3 and then in a confusing display of clock management the Steelers change personnel with the clock running and waste a good 20 seconds. The clock winds under 10 seconds and Ben hits Moore out of the backfield. Moore gets out of bounds with 4 seconds left, but we're left with a 55-yard field goal. Rather than risk a block, the Steelers opt for a Hail Mary shot. Ben hits AB on a back shoulder throw but he's tackled at the 15 and the half ends.


Clock management has never been Mike Tomlin's forte, and we took a timeout into the half with us. Terrible coaching in the last minute there to change personnel and run Hines off the field and Heath back on to the field. Hines was on the other side of the field and had to come all the way across.

Third Quarter

Ginn makes the mistake of trying to bring the kickoff out and Sylvester blows him up inside the 10. A false start sets the 49ers back inside the 5 and the defense forces a big 3-and-out. A penalty on the punt flips the field back in the 49ers favor.

Mendenhall breaks into the secondary and moves the sticks, but the drive stalls out. Kapinos hits a great punt that gets bobbled but Lewis gets called for interfering with the catch but replay shows the returner touched the ball first. It's not reviewable so it's San Fran's ball near midfield with the penalty.

Keenan Lewis gets redemption makes a big-time play to break up a slant pass on 3rd down to force another 3-and-out.

Pinned back at the 10, Ben hits Heath down the sideline on a perfect wheel route and Heath rumbles all the way out to midfield. Heath snags another one on an out route to move the chains again across midfield. Mendenhall gets us into 3rd and short, and Ben goes back-shoulder for Brown down the sideline. Brown makes a wheeling catch that is initially called out of bounds but Tomlin challenges. Review shows Brown's hand barely touched before his second foot. Suisham squeezes it inside the upright from 51. Huge kick.


Alex Smith comes out and goes play-action and finds Davis deep on a post to get them out to the 50. The 49ers hit a screen pass and take it all the way down into the red zone. Smith goes play-action and throws back across the field, hitting Davis who takes it down to the goal line.
He's called out but Harbaugh challenges and loses. Smith goes play-action and hits Davis for the score on the next play.


The Steelers come back with the no huddle. Mendenhall finally cuts one back and moves the sticks then Ben hits Cotch down the sideline on a wheel route to take it all the way down to the 49ers 30. The drive stalls out and Suisham misses from 48.

The defense holds to another 3-and-out.

Fourth Quarter

Andy Lee's leg must hang out with Barry Bonds' arms. Pins us inside the 10 again.

Ben stands in and takes a shot on 3rd down to deliver a strike to Cotch to move the sticks. Ben gets swarmed and fumbles.

Haven't used that one in a while.

The defense comes up with another 3-and-out, but Timmons gets flagged Looking at the replay I have honestly no idea what the penalty was for. Frank Gore pounds it in.


Ben gets sacked again and the Steelers go 3-and-out.

The 49ers run 3 times and punt to wind time off the clock.

Ben gets sacked again but is able to move the chains when he zings one to Cotch on 3rd down. He comes right back and hits Heath down the seam to get us to midfield as the clock rolls under 4 minutes. Ben takes a shot deep for Wallace but throws it inside where the corner is waiting and it gets picked off for the 4th turnover of the game.

Same game plan for San Fran.

The Steelers go 3-and-out and punt.

San Francisco mercifully puts this one to bed.

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Jerricho Cotchery
Defensive Game Ball: Ryan Clark

Honorable Mentions:
Heath Miller
Stevenson Sylvester
Greg Warren

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game

Left side of the line

Max Starks got dominated by Aldon Smith and Trai Essex looked bad at left guard. Essex and Legursky struggled with communication and were totally lost on inside stunts all game. Kemoeatu wouldn't have been much better. Gotta hope we can get Pouncey back for the playoffs.

Final Thoughts
  • The Ravens are 3-4 on the road this season and have to go to Cincinnati the last week of the season. This division race is far from over.
  • Props to San Francisco. They came in with a game plan and executed it. They forced turnovers and got points off of them.
  • Can't turn the ball over 4 times and win games, simple as that.
  • See you Saturday for the Rams.


Fred Zarguna said...

As easy as it might be to lay the blame for this fiasco at the feet of the four turnovers, I'm going to go on record as saying this was a game that the Steelers lost because of coaching, pure and simple.

Least guilty first: as much as I am at pains to say it, because I believe every great Steeler team in the post-Noll era has one thing in common, and that is a coach named Dick Lebeau, as the Greeks said, "sometimes even Homer nods." Dick did not make the necessary adjustments at half-time to shutdown the San Francisco passing attack. To the extent that Black 'n Gold trailed by only two Field Goals at the half, he may have been lulled to sleep. He should not have been. The modified Cover 2/4 the Steelers played puts too much pressure on the weak outside backer (or, when Harrison is playing, typically rushing the passer, the Weak Mike Backer.) In any case, those guys need over-the-top help, and our defensive backfield was playing way too far off the ball to be of any real help. The 49ers do not have such a fearsome vertical passing game that our backfield needed to play such a soft zone. It cost us very dearly late in the game.

Fred Zarguna said...

Next, more seriously: Tomlin. No Steeler Coach I can think of has been a terribly effective time manager, and when the whole system is doing its job, you don't have to be. Still, we walked into half-time with a timeout in our pockets on a drive that died more for lack of time than anything else. In a game that was shaping up to be a huge defensive struggle, the two (maybe three) plays the Steelers booted before the half with bad clock skills is unforgivable.

Even worse: the field goal from 51 yards in Q3. Simply idiotic. Yes, as I told Benz in the post game show, I'm arguing with success, but it was simply terrible coaching. Here's the scenario: You are 3rd and two, moving the ball well on the opponents 33 yard line. Given our kicker, who is essentially a max 45-yard guy, and given where you are, the sensible thing to do is to regard yourself in 4-down territory. Instead of doing that, you throw a very low percentage pass and then kick. No!!! Just. Plain. Stupid. Nine-times out of ten Suisham does not make that kick and you wind up coughing up the ball on near mid-field. Terrible percentages, and terrible play calling.

Fred Zarguna said...

Finally: Bruce. Bruce must go. I do not believe he actually had any game plan whatsoever for this game, preferring to believe that he could practice Batch all week and bring Ben in at the last minute and things would just take care of themselves with the Ball in Number Seven's hands.

Well... really? One thing Ben has shown us over the years is that he is very much like the pretty little girl with the pretty little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. Because when he is good, he is very very good. But when he is bad, he is horrid.

The Steelers have proven their ability to go quick drop, so please tell me why we are asking a guy with a bad ankle to take deep drops with a line that showed no ability whatsoever to hold back the pass rush?

Please tell me why, week after week after week so many Steeler fans are screaming at the television screen "Why are you giving away every first down by packing Mendenhall between the tackles for no gain?" But this week, against a team we are not supposed to be able to run against, we put up great numbers, only to abandon the run very early in the second half? Why? Why? Just f*cking why in a 6-0 game with a halfback gashing the Niners for 4.7 yards average per carry, are we abandoning the running game early in the third quarter? Was there already not enough pressure on our injured and under-performing quarterback? Did Bruce finally decide, in one of the rare circumstances when the unimaginative running game was actually working that it was time to abandon it? Yoi, double-yoi and ganganzola as somebody famous used to say. I just don't get it. Sorry. I don't.

As for all you "Charlie Batch sux" moonbats out there, I sentence you to watch Saturday's performance a dozen times (minimum). Charlie does not suck. You seem to have forgotten we beat pretty decent teams using Charlie at the start of last year's season. I call special attention to the forty-five yard pass to the goal line for those of you who can't pass a football accurately more than fifteen yards with the wind at your back who've been calling him "Candy Arm."

Yes, we might've lost on Monday Night with Charlie, but we'd be weeks closer to having a healthy Ben, and hey, we lost anyway.

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