Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Winging It: Steelers Win

It was a cold, windy day at Heinz Field, which must have made the plethora of Bills fans in attendance feel right at home. It shouldn't really be a surprise, given the state of the Bills franchise and their lack of success over the last decade their entire history, but I don't think I've ever seen a group of opposing fans with a lower football acumen than the group that came down from Buffalo.

I actually saw more than one adult human being wearing one of these:
To a professional football game.

The Steelers get the ball first and go right to The Prescription to get things rolling. Bell gets us out across the 40 on his own then Ben hits Cotch on a short out on 3rd down that he spins upfield and takes it down the sideline for 26 yards. Two plays later, Ben tries to find Wheaton on a fly route but he badly underthrows it to the inside and Jarius Byrd swoops in and picks it off, bringing it all the way back to the Steelers 30.
Underrated play: Markus Wheaton running all the way back from the goal line to make the tackle 70 yards back upfield.

With EJ Manuel returning from injury, the Bills came out pretty vanilla with CJ Spiller. William Gay kicked off a great game by coming up and making some tackles on Spiller to prevent him from getting the corner. Gay commits a terrible pass interference penalty, pushing over the receiver on an uncatchable pass that gives the Bills a free first down, but that was really his only mistake all day. The Bills keep it on the ground with Manuel converting a 3rd down with his feet but the defense stands strong at the goal line and holds them to 3.


The Steelers do absolutely nothing and a failed WR screen draws some boos from the frustrated crowd. Thankfully, the Bills respond with their own 3-and-out, because they're the Bills.
The Steelers remain trapped in bad field position and unable to flip the field with the wind in the face and go 3-and-out again. The Bills continue to control field position with the ball near midfield but go 3-and-out again.

For those keeping score at home, that's a turnover and two 3-and-outs for the Steelers in their 3 first quarter drives. They do work their way into 3rd and 1 as the quarter expires.

Second Quarter

Jonathan Dwyer gets his token short-yardage carry and gashes the Bills for 6 yards and a first down. Dwyer converts another 3rd and short to get us to midfield then it's back to The Prescription. The Steelers go back to the Wildcat with a twist - Heath slides in at tackle on the weak side with an overset line with 3 tackles on the strong side. Sanders comes in motion and gets the handoff with Ben floating back towards the backfield. Alonso slashes towards Ben as Sanders fakes the toss back which gives Manny a hole to turn it up and he dashes for 25 yards down the sideline.
The Prescription takes over from there, taking us down inside the 10, but Ben gets sacked on 3rd and goal. Suisham is as Suisham does.


CJ Spiller was largely ineffective, so the Bills went with Fred Jackson for much of this game. The Steelers lost Shamarknado when he twisted his ankle trying to make a cut, which turned into a big gain for Stevie Johnson. That was really all the Bills did, but it was enough to get them to midfield and pin us back again.

The Steelers running backs continue to control the show as The Prescription takes a shovel pass from a falling Big Ben through the teeth of the Bills defense for a big 30-yard gain to get us out of trouble. Dwyer takes over from there, picking up a key first down to move us into field goal range. After a timeout, Ben hits AB on a beautiful back shoulder throw down the sideline to get us inside the 5. Ben lulls the defense to sleep with a play-action pass and floats a beautiful throw to Cotch in the back corner of the end zone.


The Bills get a shot at a 2-minute drive and pick up one first down, but the defense holds as William Gay makes a big tackle on third down.

With 40 seconds and 1 timeout, you would think the Steelers would have a chance to get into field goal range, but they waste 20 seconds after a TE screen and don't get their second play off until there are 19 ticks left. Ben hits AB a few times on the sideline to get across the 40, but time runs out.


It was cold at Heinz Field. Gretz from Steelers Lounge (one of our favorite Steelers blogs) tells a harrowing tale of the absolute shitshow that is Heinz Field security.

Also, apparently the NFL Network thinks that just because the Steelers are 2-6 that Ben will want out of town. Yeah, that makes no sense. Anyone with a half-decent working knowledge of how the Salary Cap works knows that's not going to happen.

Third Quarter

The Bills get the ball first and are able to move the ball out across midfield, mostly on the legs of Fred Jackson. On third down, Timmons is playing as a backside QB spy and absolutely lights up Manuel as he drifts in the pocket for a big sack.

The Steelers are finally able to get in control of the field position battle by moving the ball out to midfield on a big pass to AB, but Ben gets sacked on 3rd down, ending the drive. Ben fumbled on the sack but was thankfully able to recover the ball, which might have been one of the most under-rated plays of the game. Rather than the Bills getting the ball at the Steelers 40, a good punt and a penalty gave them the ball at the 8. That's a 52-yard swing.

Manuel hits a few passes, but the Bills don't really mount a threat and punt it back to the Steelers. AB breaks up the middle on the return and was a block away from taking it to the house. Nevertheless, the Steelers took over at the 42.

Ben goes play-action out of a heavy set with Adams at TE and finds AB on a deep cross that he spins back to the middle of the field and takes all the way into the red zone. The drive stalls out but the entire Bills D-line jumps offside on the field goal attempt, which gives the Steelers new life. AB gets it to the 2 on a WR screen then The Prescription punches it in right behind an Adams pancake.


The teams exchange 3-and-outs and that pretty much winds out the quarter. The Bills take control of field position again after Ben gets sacked.

Fourth Quarter

The Bills move the ball into Steelers territory, but make the strange decision to punt on 4th and 5 at the Steelers 36 rather than trying to go for it down by 2 scores. I can understand not attempting a 53-yard field goal from there, but punting here was basically giving up from Doug Marrone.

The Steelers continued dominating on the ground with Felix Jones and Dwyer picking up some chunks of yardage to move us out across the 40. The drive stalls out and Ben is sacked on 3rd down.


EJ Manuel played at Florida State, but obviously never saw anything like Renegade, because he shit himself and badly underthrew a receiver and Ryan Clark comes across and makes the pick. Clark makes some moves on the return and brings it all the way back to the 13.

With the ball at the 13, you would think an NFL offense should be able to score a touchdown. But Haley goes back to the motif offense with two runs that go backwards then a low-percentage throw for the back corner of the end zone on 3rd down. Field goal.


The defense was feeling it at this point and Jarvis Jones comes up with his first career sack followed by a Cam Heyward sack which punctuates a 3-and-out.

AB gets the corner on the punt return and speeds down the sideline, getting all the way down to the 11 before he's brought down.

The Steelers get their second crack at scoring a touchdown from inside the 15 but can't do it this time either, going run-run-pass once again. Another low-percentage throw on an attempted fade to Heath on 3rd down.

Two field goals on drives that started at the 15 and 11. Yikes.


The Bills take over with 4 and a half minutes left and actually start to move the ball on a few completions to the tight ends. The Bills don't do anything spectacular, but just keep working the short passes with the Steelers in shell coverage and pick their way down into Steelers territory. With the ball at the 6, Manuel appears to be sacked and fumble with the Steelers recovering. However, the refs ruled after replay that Manuel's arm was coming forward and that it was an incomplete pass.

To be honest, this looked like more of a fumble than Ben's "fumble" against the Giants last year, but Scott Green (who was also responsible for the "not a fumble" ruling in the Steelers-Chargers 11-10 game a few years back) really doesn't know a fumble when he sees one. Sadly, I can't find a replay of this one anywhere online.

On 3rd down, Manuel completes a pass and Ike and the defense stack up the receiver and knock the ball out, with the Steelers recovering. Scott Green and company have clearly checked out at this point because they call the receiver down by contact when he was never down. They also refuse to review the play.
The Bills get it down inside the 5 and take a timeout with 5 seconds left just to run a 4th down play because they're dicks like that.

On 4th down, TE Chris Gragg clearly leaves before the snap, but the refs don't care and don't throw a flag and Manuel finds him for a touchdown as time expires.

Gragg is clearly leaving his stance with the ball still on the ground. I would say I don't know how they missed this, but it's Scott Green's crew and they are terrible.



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