Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Am Legend: Steelers Win


And so the legend of Ben Roethlisberger grows. Somehow, after suffering an injury that sidelines other quarterbacks for weeks, he came back and played. We already knew Ben was the toughest quarterback in the league, but his legend has grown to the point where he is now in the discussion for toughest player in the league. What a human.

Cleveland wins the toss and takes the ball. McCoy hits some passes on two blown coverages to get the Browns inside the 5. McCoy tries to scramble for the goal line.
It's initially called a touchdown, but the score is called back because his elbow was down short of the line. Foote and Farrior blow up Hillis in the backfield on 3rd down, holding the Browns to 3.


Ben comes out throwing the ball all over the yard and looks sharp, hitting Wallace and Brown to move into Browns territory. Wallace takes an end-around down to the 10 then Ben steps up and hits Cotch who darts between two defenders into the end zone.

Great response. Sixth opening drive touchdown of the year for the Steelers.


The Browns are able to pick up a few first downs but a penalty puts their terrible offense in a long-yardage situation and it's punt time.

Ben converts a 3rd down to AB, the best 3rd down receiver in the league and gets 15 more on a roughing the passer penalty. Wallace makes a few moves on a bubble screen and moves us across midfield as the quarter ends.

Second Quarter

The Steelers keep moving but the drive goes to hell when Hines takes a bubble screen and tries to make a move inside the 10 and gets hit from behind, knocking the ball out.

Thankfully, the Browns can't do much better. After dropping a handful of easy picks early in the year, Troy finally snags one, jumping a seam route to the tight end and bringing it back into the red zone.

Heath gets a grab out in the flat and in an eerily similar situation to what we just saw, he gets hit from behind and coughs the ball up.

Two fumbles in the red zone is how you lose to a team like the Browns. Thankfully the Browns are terrible and work themselves into a 3rd and 20. Wait, what? They convert it with a draw play? Who had contain up the middle? Oh, nevermind, they had to punt a few plays later after McLendon gets a sack.

Mendenhall gets us away from our own goal line. Then it happens.

Ben rolls out and looks downfield. He can't find anyone and is hit from behind by a defender while he tries to get away.



He goes down in obvious pain.

Enter Homestead Charlie...who does nothing. Kapinos hits a good one, but the Browns take over near midfield.

The rest of the half consisted of 3 and outs and exchanging punts. Cleveland's punter coffin cornered our offense and the defense wouldn't let them inside the 40. Worlids ends the quarter with a sack.


If you didn't spend halftime with your stomach in knots wondering what was going on with Ben, you're not human. Your thought process was probably something like this:

Broken ankle? High ankle sprain?

Would he be able to make it back by the playoffs?

Who all needs to lose for us to clinch a playoff spot?

Then, the smoke parted.

And out of the locker room limped number seven.

He gimped over to Doug Legursky, took a few practice snaps, and grabbed his helmet.

Holy shit he's going back in the game.

Third Quarter

The third quarter might be the worst coached quarter of the entire season. We were already short-handed with a quarterback who could barely walk and clinging to a 4-point lead. So how does Tomlin decide to come out of the half? With a reverse on the kickoff. Cleveland is all over it and we have to start at our own 6. 

Thankfully we have Rashard Mendenhall. He puts the team on his back and carries us all the way down the field into field goal range. Ben tries to take a shot deep for Wallace that falls incomplete. To make matters worse, Ben took a hit AND Kemoeatu takes a holding penalty that knocks us out of field goal range. Punt.

The Browns are able to move out across midfield thanks to a late hit penalty on Farrior but the defense locks it down and forces another punt.

David Johnson makes a catch and there's a defensive penalty so Ed Hoculi delivers a dissertation on why the penalty is declined. Not sure why we have Ben throwing pases when Mendenhall is ringing up first Arians trying to get Ben killed? Mendenhall keeps rolling and gets us across midfield.

Fourth Quarter

With the ball on the Browns side of the field, Ben hits Heath over the middle to get us into field goal range and give Heath the catch he needed to become the top receiving tight end in Steelers history - BUT WAIT! Chris Kemoeatu is playing, right?

Right. Holding penalty. 

Take that catch for Heath off the board. Somehow, Ben pulls it together and guns one to AB for a huge conversion to get us into field goal range. Two plays later, defying all odds, Ben takes a shotgun snap and hits Wallace across the middle. Mike turns on the jets and blows the defender away and races the safety towards the pylon. He makes a move and seemingly gets in, but upon review his knee was down at the 2.

Up by four, in the fourth quarter, with a quarterback who can barely walk. Running the ball here was the right call, and I have no problem with running Rashard 3 times. Some linebacker makes 3 unreal plays to stop Rashard at the goal line. The questionable call came on 4th down when Tomlin decided to go for it rather than kick the field goal and go up by 7. Mendenhall gets stuffed again. Ugh.

Thankfully, Cleveland goes 3-and-out.

The Steelers take over at the Browns 38, essentially needed 1 first down to get into field goal range. It looks like they get it when Redman converts on a 3rd and 1...

BUT Kemoeatu gets called for a THIRD penalty that knocks us out of field goal range. 

I can't believe I'm saying this, but we'd be better with Trai Essex at left guard. On the next play, Ben tries to go to Heath down the middle but can't step into the throw and the pass gets picked off.

Cleveland takes over with 7 minutes left near midfield, and McCoy hits a pass to move them into Steelers territory. Things start to look worse when McCoy scrambles and gets whalloped by James Harrison as he flings the ball out to a running back.
Here's the deal. McCoy was out of the pocket and had the ball tucked away like a runner. If Harrison makes that same hit on a running back, that's not a penalty. But since it's Harrison and McCoy is a QB, it's 15 more yards. Seneca Wallace comes in and completes a pass down to the 5.

Somehow, McCoy came back in the game. He tries to roll out away from pressure but Harrison catches his leg. Colt tries to fling the ball away but gets called for grounding. With 3rd down from the 16, McCoy tries to hit Massaquoi but Big Play Will Gay makes a great play on the ball and steps in front of Massaquoi for a HUGE interception.




Cleveland has 2 timeouts left, so the Steelers need a first down to seal the game. On 2nd down, the Browns show an all-out blitz with only one safety deep so Ben takes a shot for AB down the sideline. Even on one leg, Ben executes a perfect back-shoulder throw. AB snags it, the back falls down and Brown takes off at full speed.
He executes two cuts and makes the safety look like a traffic cone and takes it ALL THE WAAAY




Cleveland gets the ball back with about 3 minutes left, but with no timeouts. Gay makes tackles to keep guys in bounds. Farrior and Mundy both have interceptions taken away by replay and penalty. Worlids closes it out with a sack. 


And now, all  our hope rests in the tendons of this ankle.

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Ben Roethlisberger
Defensive Game Ball: William Gay

Honorable Mentions:
Antonio Brown
Jason Worlids
Troy Polamalu
Steve McLendon
Doug Legursky
Mike Wallace
Ryan Clark

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
High Ankle Sprains

Ben and Pouncey both have them. We'll see how things go this week and if either of them are available against San Francisco.

Final Thoughts

  • Once again, we just keep winning. Great effort by the defense to keep Cleveland out of the end zone at the beginning and end of the game.
  • Can't say enough good things about Antonio Brown. Not only has he turned into the best 3rd down receiver in the league, he's also the most reliable target on the team.
  • Rough night for the injury report. Ben and Pouncey with High Ankle Sprains, Ziggy with a groin, and Troy with a Hamstring.
  • Ben is the toughest player in the league, period.
  • I have no problem with running the ball 3 times at the goal line. I'd take the points on 4th down though.
  • Solid game by Mendenhall and Redman. Rashard hasn't gone over 100 in a while, but he's running harder than I've ever seen him run in his career. He's keeping the legs churning and really driving for those extra yards.
  • Heath Miller is tied with Elbe Nickel for the most receptions by a Steelers TE. He should break the mark next week.
  • Hines is 9 shy of 1,000 catches.
  • The line between a close game and blowout is very fine in the NFL. The difference between the 35 we put up against Cincy last week and the 14 against Cleveland this week is 2 red zone fumbles and a goal line stand. Take those 3 red zone turnovers off the board and this game isn't even close.
  • Long layoff until the monday nighter in San Francisco.

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