Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animal: Steelers Win


Things couldn't have gone better early Sunday afternoon. The Jets won. The Bills won. When the coin was flipped, the Steelers were still clinging to their slim playoff hopes.

The Steelers came out of the gates quick, with a Timmons sack forcing a 3-and-out then moving the ball out to midfield on the legs of Le'Veon Bell. Two penalties set things back and a give-up play on third and long sent the ball back to the Packers.

Playing for field position didn't work out so well as Matt Flynn started working the short passing game, moving Green Bay down the field. Eddie Lacy starts to take over on the ground once the Packers get into Steelers territory and moves Green Bay into the red zone. On first and goal, Flynn goes back to the air and lobs one up for Jarrett Boykin who makes a leaping grap over Cortez Allen. Pretty good coverage, Boykin just made a better play.


Before this game, the Steelers were 0-6 this season when they allowed a first quarter touchdown.

Thankfully, the Steelers weren't going to take any of that crap. The Prescription went to work, busting a big 22-yarder up the gut then Ben went up top and hit Antonio Brown streaking down the sideline to move us all the way into the red zone. The Prescription gets us down to the 1 where Ben hits Manny in the back of the end zone.


Second Quarter

The Packers go right back to Boykin who picks up 20 yards then they get 15 more on a roughing the passer call. Thankfully, a packers lineman decides to grab Jason Worlids' facemask on 3rd down, nullifying a conversion and knocking them out of field goal range. Worlids is pissed off and sacks Flynn.

AB rips off a great return to get us back to midfield before he's knocked out of bounds by a defenseless punter. The offense can't do anything but pins Green Bay deep. A holding penalty pretty much ends the Packers drive, and the Steelers get it back.

AB makes another grab to get us into Green Bay territory, but we can't get any farther. Clay Matthews injures himself sacking Ben.

Flynn starts picking on William Gay and Lacy picks up a few big chunks before cutting one back across the field and hurdling over Ike Taylor into the end zone.


Terrible backside contain by Chris Carter.

The Steelers took over with just under 2 minutes to go and got a great return from Manny Sanders across midfield. However, the Steelers "hurry up" offense wasted 50 seconds running just 2 plays that gained just 13 total yards. A pass to Cotchery got us into 3rd an short and we used our second timeout with 40 ticks left. The Prescription ripped one for 10 yards up the middle to get us to the 13, and Tomlin decided not to use a timeout. The clock kept winding and the Steelers didn't get another snap off until the 16 second mark. That's 24 seconds in between snaps. Two incompletions later, only 6 seconds remained on the clock and the Steelers opted for a field goal and took their last time out into the locker room with them.


Third Quarter

The Steelers got the ball to start the second half and Ben and AB went to work. Two quick strikes over the middle get us near midfield where things stall out. On 4th and 2, Tomlin shows his mettle with a ballsy call for a fake punt and Mat McBriar rolls out and lofts one down the field to David Paulson who hurdles a defender and takes it inside the 30.

What a job by McBriar standing in under pressure and hitting his second option and collecting a roughing the passer call to go with it.

On the next play, Ben steps away from pressure then takes off upfield, rumbling 13 yards into the end zone for the go-ahead score.


The Packers came back and slowly picked their way down the field, alternating passes and runs and slowly plodding against the Steelers defense. We finally caught a break when Flynn couldn't connect with Jordy Nelson on 3rd down and the Packers opted to punt it away and pin the Steelers deep.

That wound up being the right decision as Bell fumbled for the first time this season right on the goal line, giving the Packers the ball right on the doorstep. Despite gashing us on the ground all game, Green Bay threw two passes and had to settle for a field goal, which set off the most bizarre sequence you'll see all season.

Steve McLendon gets a great push and blocks Crosby's field goal attempt. Ryan Clark scoops up the ball then makes a bizarre decision to try to lateral the ball to William Gay who can't handle it and Ziggy Hood eventually knocks the ball out of bounds. Ziggy gets flagged for illegaly batting the ball out of bounds. The refs rule that the Steelers never possessed the ball (despite Ryan Clark having two hands on the ball and being able to lateral it to Will Gay) so they inexplicably gave the ball back to Green Bay.

(Credit to @SteelersDepot for the gif)

Not possession? Also, not down by contact?

When Tomlin tried to challenge, he was told that the play was not reviewable.

Of course, this is the same officiating crew that thought this wasn't pass interference:

Somehow, the Packers got the ball on the 1 and Lacy punched it in. 



Unlike in the past when Tomlin had benched backs for fumbling, he put Le'Veon back in the game. And The Prescription answered.

Bell busted the first carry right up the gut for 25, followed by a penalty on the Packers that moved us into field goal range. Dwyer made the most of a few chances to get us to the 11 before Ben zips one to Matt Spaeth down the seam for the touchdown.

Spaeth's first catch of the year. Huge.


After a big return from Dr Jekell and Micah Hyde, Flynn throws a hilariously bad pass out to Boykin that is tipped and picked off by Cortez Allen who takes it 40 yards back to the house.

Big-time turn of events for the Steelers after the terrible officiating.


A holding penalty on the Packers pretty much ended their next drive and the Steelers took over with good field position. Rather than running the ball (and running out the quarter), Ben tries to fit on in to Heath and it gets picked off by AJ Hawk.

Fourth Quarter

With a short field, the Packers were able to work it down inside the 5 but the defense held and forced a field goal.


The Steelers really needed to keep their defense off the field, but couldn't do it, going 3-and-out. A poor punt gave Green Bay the ball far too close to midfield.

After being on the field for so long, it was a lot to ask this beleagured defense to come up with a stop. James Starks started gashing the defense then Flynn found Nelson on Gay for 31 yards to get into the red zone. Starks got them to the 1 before Kuhn pounded it in to tie the game.


On second down from the 10, Ben buys time moving around in the pocket and comes back to AB on the right side who makes some guys miss and goes for 30 yards, moving him into first place on the Steelers single-season receiving yardage list. With the ball near midfield and the clock winding under 5 minutes, Tomlin uses a timeout and opts to go for it on 4th down. Ben hits Will Johnson out in the flat to keep the drive rolling, but the drive doesn't go much further from there.

Pinned deep, the defense stands strong with Brett Keisel coming up with a sack on first down then Troy running down a scrambling Flynn on 3rd down and knocking the ball out while flying through the air. Keisel falls on it to give us the ball in the red zone with 2 minutes to go.

Vintage Steelers defense turnover right there.

Green Bay had all 3 timeouts left, so the Steelers had to run the ball to use the clock. On second down, they make a bizarre decision to throw for the end zone and Ben overthrows AB, stopping the clock with 1:40 to go. Bell gets 5 on a 3rd down pass to get us to 4th and 3. The Steelers catch a huge break when the Packers jump offsides on the field goal, giving us a first down at the 5 with 1:35 to go.

And Mike Tomlin's clock management struck again.

At this point, with the Packers only having 1 timeout remaining, the Steelers should have taken 3 knees and kicked the field goal. Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats detailed this.

With 1:35 left, the Steelers could have kneeled the ball 3 times and run all but about 8 seconds off the clock, which would have enabled them to kick a 25-yard field goal for the win. Even after Le'Veon Bell's first down carry got them to the 1 and forced the Packers to use their final timeout, the Steelers had about a 99% chance of winning if they had simply kneeled it out. However, Tomlin opted to run the ball on 2nd down and Bell scored, which actually increased Green Bay's chances of winning from less than 1% to 9%.


Rather than kicking a field goal with under 8 seconds to play, the Steelers kicked off to Green Bay with 1:28 to play, and Micah Hyde returned the kickoff 70 yards back to the Steelers 31 (which actually gave the Packers a 21% chance to win the game).

Flynn went to work with new life, hitting Nelson and Quarless to get them down to the 5 with 43 seconds left. They opted to run the ball and Will Allen and Cam Heyward made the biggest tackle of the season, keeping Starks out of the end zone. With the clock rolling and 20 seconds to play, the Packers got flagged for a false start penalty, which ran 10 seconds off the clock. That was huge for the Steelers defense.

With 10 seconds left, you would think that the Packers could get 2 plays off, but Flynn lets the clock roll all the way to 3 before taking the snap and his slant pass for Boykin bounces off of his hands, incomplete.



Can someone buy Mike Tomlin a clock for Christmas?

Ride or die with the Steelers, Bengals, Jets and Chiefs this weekend.

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