Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bad Football Is Better Than No Football: Steelers Lose


The Steelers lost their preseason opener, a result that was indicative of the on-field performance. However, there were several positives to be gleaned from Saturday night's preseason opener. The first team offense saw only 20 snaps, but the offensive line (aside from the sack Ramon Foster gave up) looked decent. Pouncey and DeCastro looked solid with DeCastro absolutely plowing guys, springing holes for LaRod Stephens-Howling. As I've been saying most of the offseason, Stephens-Howling was the most under-the-radar signing of free agency but might pay the biggest dividends for the team. Aside from the long pass to Victor Cruz, the defense looked solid for most of the night. The biggest issues came on special teams were mental mistakes sunk the ship. On the whole, the Steelers got through the first preseason game with no major injuries, which is the most positive thing anyone can glean from any game that doesn't count towards making the playoffs. Division titles aren't won in August, and all of the issues from tonight are correctable.


Signs of fall: 

Leaves changing on the trees (Ft Duquesne Blvd)

and being back at Heinz Field.

...and we're back!

The Steelers added a smoke machine to the tunnel.

The Sullivan and Son crew start the Towel Wave. Cool moment for them. Sadly hardly anyone brings towels to a preseason game.

The Steelers win the toss and take the ball.

Isaac Redman got the start at running back with Le'Veon Bell in street clothes. Ben converts the first third down with a pass to Will Johnson. Get used to seeing that. Will is going to be a bigger part of the offense this year with Heath out. The drive gets derailed by a holding penalty on Marcus Gilbert then Foster gets abused on 3rd down and gives up a sack. The Steelers pull a Cleveland Browns by nullifying a good punt with a penalty then getting the punt blocked.

Damon Cromartie-Smith didn't even try to block Damontre Moore. Not a good play by a guy battling for a roster spot.

The defense comes up huge with a 3-down stop with Ike making a diving breakup at the goal line on 3rd down. Holding the Giants to 3 after the blocked punt was tremendous.


The first team offense came back out and the O-line started dominating. David DeCastro had a series worthy of a first-round pick, plowing the road for LaRod Stephens-Howling. Ben hooked up with Manny a few times and AB almost had a touchdown if he would've got his second foot down in bounds. Sanders came up just short of the sticks on 3rd and long. Ben did the best he could to make things difficult for the backups, using up 2 timeouts and taking a delay of game penalty to give Suisham a longer field goal.


The first team defense got another crack and it was a series the safeties probably want to forget. After holding the Giants to a 3rd and 9, LeBeau called a corner blitz for Ike. Eli got the pass off quick to Ike's man, who made a move around Clark and beat Polamalu to the sticks to convert. Three plays later, Manning went deep down the seam and hit Victor Cruz over Will Gay. Gay made a diving attempt at the pass but came up empty, letting Cruz waltz to the end zone with Polamalu and Clark trailing.

People will want to jump all over Gay for this, but it doesn't help him at all when there's no safety help over the top.


Bruce Gradkowski entered the game. He torched my high school 35-7 my freshman year. We learned our lesson and played 3 safeties deep in the playoffs and won 31-28 in overtime in one of the most exciting games ever at Lt. JC Stone Field.

Second Quarter

Gradkowski seemingly hits the first big play of the night with a beautiful sideline pass to Wheaton, but replay shows Wheaton lost the ball as he rolled out of bounds. Tom Coughlin, like a dick, challenges the call and wins it. Dwyer drops a pass on 3rd down after running a great circle route out of the backfield.

David Carr is still in the league, apparently, and comes in at QB for the Giants. Jarvis Jones gets his first snaps, and on the 4th one scares the living crap out of the Giants RB so that he fumbles the handoff and Jones pounces on the fumble.

With a relatively short field, Gradkowski moves the troops, converting a 4th and 2 at the fringe of field goal range with a pass to Wheaton to keep things alive. Things stall out and Suisham draws us closer.


Good Jason Worlids shows up on the next drive and sacks David Carr on 3rd down.
The backup O-line was absolutely brutal. Thankfully, Gradkowski is more mobile than our previous backup quarterbacks and was able to escape some trouble. Nothing much happening.

Bad Jason Worlids shows up on the next drive with two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, giving the Giants 30 free yards with under 2 minutes to go, resulting in a field goal.



Met up with Chris from the Bleacher Report at halftime. Good times. Follow him on twitter n'at.

Third Quarter

The Giants don't do much, but the Steelers special teams disaster continues when David Gilreath fields a punt at the 3.

Landry Jones comes in and runs into Baron Batch in the end zone. Safety.


Two questions:
- Did Batch mess with Jones on purpose as some kind of Texas Tech-Oklahoma payback for the 2008 three-way-tie controversy?
- Is Tom Landry rolling over in his grave seeing someone named after him wearing a Steelers jersey?

Some regular preseason bore that was punctuated by David Gilreath muffing a punt that led to a field goal attempt that the Giants missed.

Landry Jones went to his comfort zone with Justin Brown (who he played with at Oklahoma) and completed a few passes.

Fourth Quarter

After some punts, Ryan Nassib comes in for the Giants and gets sacked by Vince Williams then lets a snap go over his head that Adrian Robinson pounces on in the end zone for a touchdown.


The head referee watches the replay on the big screen, then decides to review it on the little tiny screen in the replay booth. The preseason crowd gets bored and tries to start the wave. And starts wooing. Ugh.

Yeah, it was a touchdown.

If this was a regular season game we'd be talking about how the defense bailed out the stagnant offense and made the game winnable.

Al Woods was all over the place from his DE spot and sacks Nassib to end the Giants next drive. Remember when people thought Nassib was going to be a top 10 pick?

John Parker Wilson comes in but the line in front of him isn't even swiss cheese caliber and he gets sacked twice.

Nassib leads the Giants to a field goal.


Wilson hits JD Woods a few times to get the Steelers near midfield, but the line collapses again and Wilson is sacked twice more. Rough night for JPW.


At least no one got hurt.

Players of the Game

Offensive Game Ball: LaRod Stephens-Howling
Defensive Game Ball: Al Woods

Honorable Mentions:
David DeCastro
Bruce Gradkowski
Jarvis Jones
Vince Williams
Brian Rolle
JD Woods

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game

Special Teams

This was just brutal. Danny Smith was brought in as the new Special Teams coach in the offseason and the first game saw a plethora of penalties and mental errors that put the rest of the team behind the eight ball. The penalty on the first punt led to a rekick where a missed block caused a blocked punt. David Gilreath fielded a punt inside the 5 which led to a safety then fumbled the next punt which led to a field goal attempt. The only injury of the night was Stevenson Sylvester getting his ankle rolled up on while covering a kick. All-in-all this was not a good debut for Danny Smith's unit.

Final Thoughts

  • It was the preseason, no one got seriously injured, that's all that really matters.
  • The young linebacker depth was very impressive.
  • The offensive line depth, as advertised, was terrible.
  • See yinz Monday night in the nation's capital.

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