Friday, September 27, 2013

The Trainwreck: Steelers Lose


Before the game started the folks I was tailgating with asked me what I thought about the game. After I gave my list of everything that made it look bleak for the Steelers (which were all in my game preview) they asked how my blood pressure was and gave me a shot. After that I summarized that if the Steelers didn't give up any touchdowns to Chicago's defense or special teams, they would have a chance to win. Well, two touchdowns from turnovers and an easy field goal resulting from another turnover were the difference in the game.

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

The Bears came out determined not to let Cutler get sacked on the first drive and to give him easy throws. Everything they ran was a short pass, but they were able to pick their way down the field, mostly going to Alshon Jeffrey. Troy has finally seen enough and blows up a WR screen for a loss. The Bears don't recover and settle for 3.


The Steelers come out with two good plays - a run by Felix Jones for 11 yards which was probably their longest run of the season to that point - then a pass to Heath to get him involved. Things seemed to be looking good until Ben got hit by a blitzer coming up the middle and the ball squirted out and the Bears fell on it.

The defense seems to have things contained until they forget to cover Forte out of the backfield on third down and he gets the Bears down to the 5. On the next play, he gets to the corner and dives in, just ahead of Ryan Clark taking his head off.


Needing to muster a response with the defense having been on the field for 8 1/2 of the first 10 minutes of the game, the offense went 3-and-out. Two deep passes that weren't close on first and third down. Mesko makes a terrible kick and the Bears take over at their 40.

On the first play from scrimmage, Clark absolutely whiffs in the open field on Forte and he scampers down the sidelines. Gay tries to come from behind and punch the ball out but misses the tackle as well and Forte gets all the way down to the 5. An iffy Pass Interference call on Ike gives the Bears the ball at the 1 and somehow it takes them 4 tries to punch it in.


Before you can even blink

Things started to look up when Ben finally got the ball to AB to get us out near midfield, but a 2nd down sack made things look bleak.

Second Quarter

If you knew anything about Todd Haley, you knew this was either going to be a draw play or a fly route down the sidelines. With nothing to lose, it was the latter, and AB made a great catch in traffic along the sidelines to get the Steelers into the red zone. Unfortunately, after Felix got us inside the 10 someone (not sure if it was Haley or Ben) decided that a 2nd and 2 was a good time for a WR screen. It lost yardage and the Steelers had to settle for 3.


The defense comes out with a fire under their ass. Brett Keisel comes up with a sack and Shamarknado gets pressure on 3rd down to force a throw-away.

The Steelers had just put points on the board and got a stop from their defense. This was their chance to make a big swing in the momentum of the game. Unfortunately, Ben forced a pass into double-coverage on third down and Major Wright picked it off and took it back untouched.


The offense got another crack at it after the Pick-6 and continued Todd Haley's two-steps-forward-one-step-back approach when Dwyer lost yards on 2nd and 1 then an incompletion forced a punt. The Steelers got lucky and the Bears plowed over Zoltan Mesko and the roughing the kicker call gave the offense yet another chance. Ben goes right to work, hitting Sanders across the middle to move into Bears territory. Two plays later, Ben has more than a half second to throw and flings one downfield on a prayer. Antonio Brown gets separation behind Tim Jennings in the back of the end zone and makes a leaping catch, tapping his feet inside the back line for the score.


The defense almost forces their first turnover of the season when Will Gay punches the ball out of Jeffrey's hands but somehow it bounces right back to Jeffrey. The Bears go 3-and-out and give the Steelers a sparkle of hope.

Dwyer rips off a big run to get us out of our own end and across midfield, lowering his helmet on the safety and luckily not drawing a flag. With the ball on the Bears side of midfield and having just scored a bit passing touchdown, Haley goes with two more runs that go nowhere.
Ben throws a ball behind Wheaton on 3rd down that probably should have been caught. Another terrible kick by Zoltan gives the Bears the ball back with 2 minutes to play.

Without any timeouts, which is apparently a prerequisite for attempting a two-minute drill, the Bears opt to run the ball 3 times and take it into the half up 14.


I talk about how awesome Tyler Boyd is with everyone around me.

Third Quarter

The Steelers got the ball to start the third quarter and decided to continue running the ball since they're down by 14. On the second play, Emmanuel Sanders whiffs on a block on the outside and the defensive back spears Felix Jones, knocking the ball out.

The Bears are able to pick up a first down and move into the red zone, but Jarvis comes up huge on 3rd and short, stopping Michael Bush and forcing a field goal.


Haley finally lets Ben throw the ball again and Ben hits David Johnson down the seam for a big gain to get near midfield. Sanders reels in another one and a QB sneak moves the chains again. All of a sudden the offense is rolling. With the ball on the fringe of field goal range, Dwyer gets a carry and bounces one around the corner to get us solidly in scoring territory. Haley calls two more runs that result in nothing and Heath comes up short of the sticks on third and long. It was so deflating to see them moving the ball through the air then handing it off three straight times. Is there even a plan for this offense?


The defense seems to hold the Bears to a 3-and-out but a soft illegal contact flag gives the Bears new life. They don't do much with it, but AB gets called for a facemask on the punt return, setting the Steelers back.

Ben goes right back to work, hitting Heath down the middle then Cotchery on the fake-WR screen play which I absolutely love. The Steelers have put so much tape out there on the WR screen that teams know to expect it. They have run this play each week so far where Ben pump fakes the WR screen then hits Cotchery wide open down the sideline on a wheel route. Great play because it plays off the Steelers tendencies and what they have put on film. The next play, Ben takes a shot for the end zone and AB makes one of the best juggling catches you'll ever see, tipping the ball to himself and coming down with both feat in bounds.

All Antonio Brown does is make big plays.


The defense comes up with a huge stop and the Steelers have a huge opportunity with all the momentum heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

Ben hits AB again in the deep middle of the field to get us into scoring territory. Two plays later, Ben almost fumbles the game away when he tries to scramble but is lucky enough to fall on the ball. 

Cotchery reels one in to move the chains but that's all the offense can do. Suisham connects from 44.


Bizarre move by Heinz Field not to play Renegade here.

The defense looked like they didn't need it, holding the Bears to a 3rd and long, but somehow Jay Cutler finds a gap in the defensive line and is able to scramble for 13 yards to move the chains. What?
The defense forces the Bears into another third and long and Cutler airs one out for Marshall down the sidelines who makes a fantastic back-shoulder catch over Ike, extending his arms away from his body. Maybe Ike makes that play if he turns his head around sooner, but it was a great catch. The defense holds on first and second down again then Cutler goes to the corner of the end zone.

The pass is initially called incomplete, but the Bears challenge.


What a picture. Props to this photographer. This was a split-second shot and the only one of Bennett with both feet on the ground.


Three long third down conversions on one drive when we needed a stop?

At this point, the offense was rolling and we had to be in full go mode. However, we have Todd Haley behind the wheel.
Down by 11 with under 6 minutes to play, Haley shows no desperation and goes to the run twice. The Steelers huddle up after both plays, draining even more time off the clock. On the third play of the drive, Ben gets hit by Lance Briggs and the ball finds its ways to the hands of Julius Peppers. Mike Adams tries to tackle him, but Peppers runs away from Adams and the rest of the Steelers offense down the sidelines for the touchdown.


Troy reminds us that he is still playing and blocks the extra point.

The Steelers finally go to their desperation offense, but it's too little too late. They are able to move the ball down the field but stall out at the Bears 25. Rather than trying a field goal to make it a 14-point game, Tomlin elects to go for it on 4th and 10. We needed 3 scores, not sure why you don't at least try the field goal there. The pocket collapses around Ben and he can't even get a pass close to AB.

Tomlin bizarrely uses his last two timeouts after the two minute warning rather than before, allowing even more time to come off the clock yet still prolonging the agony.

Ben's first pass is intercepted and Antonio Brown takes a penalty.

That's that.

Off to England to play the winless Vikings.

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