Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I'm Not Sick But I'm Not Well: Steelers Win


The Steelers started the 2014 season by unfurling a giant terrible towel in the middle of the field.

The Steelers win the toss and take the ball.

Before you can even blink Ben hits Bell on a quick slant then AB on another slant that he turns upfield and takes into Browns territory. Not even a false start penalty could derail the offense out of the gates as the Steelers ran a real honest-to-goodness screen pass that resulted in a 20-yard gain. I can't even tell you the last time the Steelers got 10 yards on a screen pass, let alone 20.
The Prescription keeps rolling, bouncing a run to the outside to take it down inside the 5. A holding penalty nullifies a touchdown two plays later and a sack forces us to settle for 3.


The Browns predictably start it out on the ground but after they move the chains once, Hoyer airs it out for Jordan Cameron who we thought was their only receiver (more on this later) and the Steelers don't have a safety in sight but Timmons has close enough coverage to bring him down. That was pretty much it for that drive, but the pass to Cameron got them into field goal range.


Ben gets right back at it hitting AB on 3rd down over the middle to move the chains then going downtown to Markus Wheaton streaking down the sideline. It was a similar play to the pass Emmanuel Sanders dropped in the opener against Tennessee last year, but Wheaton pulls it in along the sideline for a big 40-yard gain. Three plays later on a 3rd and 1 Blount powers up the middle untouched into the end zone for the first touchdown of the year.


Second Quarter

The defense gives up some yards on an end-around but hold to a 3-and-out.

The momentum slows a little when Ben tries to force a late throw to Bell on the sideline that Karlos Dansby picks off. Dansby is a good player. No clue why Arizona has let him get away twice.

The Steelers defense was playing with some serious attitude in the first half. The Browns took over at the fringe of field goal range and wound up punting after Jarvis Jones ripped inside of a tight end and sacked Hoyer.

The Prescription gets us out of the shadow of our own goalposts then takes a short pass and makes some moves up the field and gets us all the way out to midfield against a demoralized Browns defense. A pass to Wheaton and run by Bell move the chains again. At the 35, Ben makes a vintage Ben play, stepping away from pressure then makes an unreal throw on the run that isn't even possible in video games to hit Antonio Brown in stride in the corner of the end zone.

If you read my game preview, you know that Joe Haden has an entire garden of aloe plants just for when he faces AB.

(gif from the master, OFTOT)


The Browns made the mistake of trying to run the kick out and didn't even make it to the 10 as the coverage team swarmed. They weren't getting anything on our defense at that point. AB almost put an exclamation point on it by nearly taking the punt back to the house and delivering a Karate Kid Crane Kick on the Browns punter in the process.

Benstonium in midseason form in Week 1.




Justin Brown gets in on the act with a catch over the middle then The Prescription takes a run off left tackle and makes some moves in the hole, breaks a few arm tackles and is off to the races down the sideline, getting a block from AB and tumbling into the end zone.


Shazier almost comes up with a pick on the next drive as a 3rd down pass hits him right in the hands but he does his best Emmanuel Sanders impression and drops it.

The Steelers go 3-and-out when AB can't quite get to the sticks on 3rd down.

The defense is absolutely on fire. Jason Worilds gets a sack and the defense stops the Browns before the two minute warning to get Ben the ball back with just under 2 minutes and all 3 timeouts.

When the Steelers came out throwing, someone in my section asked why. I said, "Remember our defense from last year? We need as many points as we can get." Unfortunately, that was about to come true.

AB made a big catch to get things going and Wheaton tacked on another to get us across midfield but made the young player mistake of not getting out of bounds. Two passes to Heath got us into field goal range. Ben took a shot for the end zone and AB drew a holding penalty on Haden with just under 20 ticks left. The Steelers went for another shot but Ben got flushed out of the pocket and took off up the middle. He made an incredibly heads up play to slide in the middle of the field and call timeout with 5 seconds left rather than trying to get extra yards and letting the clock run out (see: Flacco, Joseph). Suisham tacks on to end the half.


Third Quarter

Brian Hoyer stayed under center in the second half, but it was a completely different Browns offense. They basically burned their first half playbook and went to the Johnny Manziel offense that featured a pistol set with a zone-read running game and sprint/roll-out passing looks off of play-action. That might sound a little bit complicated, but it really wasn't. Hoyer took snaps in the pistol, and either handed off or faked a handoff and rolled out and threw to an open receiver in the middle of the field. That was pretty much it. And the Steelers couldn't stop it. The Browns marched right down the field in a minute and a half and put 6 on the board.


The Steelers crap all over themselves with a penalty on the kickoff that pushes the start of the drive back inside the 10 then go 3-and-out.

The Browns come right back at it with rookie RB Terrence West carving up the Steelers and Hoyer throwing to wide open receivers. In just over two minutes, they're in the end zone again. Rookie Isaiah Crowell got his second rushing touchdown as he came in as the change-of-pace back in the red zone after West did the leg work.


The Browns scored two touchdowns in the first 6 minutes of the second half.

The Steelers got something together on offense and started moving the ball again with The Prescription shouldering the load. On the edge of field goal range, Ben gets sacked and puts an end to the drive. Not ideal.

Cleveland takes over and picks their way back down the field. The Steelers still can't figure out how to defend the middle of the field and the Browns no-name receiving corps has a field day getting 15-20 yards a pop. The Steelers finally get a 3rd down with the Browns inside the 5 and Cam Heyward comes up with a big stop when the Browns have a miscommunication and the running back and Hoyer go the wrong way.

Fourth Quarter

Cleveland cuts it to a score with a field goal.


After the defense got shredded in the 3rd quarter, a long drive by the offense was needed to calm things down. Unfortunately, two incompletions and a sack later, the defense was heading back onto the field and not much time had come off the game clock.

Crowell gashed the Steelers on the ground again to set up the Browns in field goal range then Hoyer hit Hawkins over the middle to get them inside the 10. On the next play, Hoyer rolled out and hit an open receiver in the back of the end zone.
All of this was out of the same offensive look, and the Steelers just couldn't stop it. Cleveland didn't even face a 3rd down on that drive.


Things looked grim when the offense stalled out and went 3-and-out after a holding penalty on Heath. On the previous punt, the Browns had brought their outside guys in to rush the punt and forced the Steelers to bring in their gunners. The Browns tried it again but Robert Golden took the snap and flung a pass out to gunner Antwon Blake who made the catch and scampered down the sidelines to midfield.

What a huge turn of events. Great play by Golden and Blake.

Unfortunately, the Steelers couldn't pick up a first down and punted it back to Cleveland, but the fake punt allowed them to flip the field on the Browns.

With the defense needing a lift, this would've seemed like an ideal time for Renegade, but instead we got Ride the Lightning.

Not bad, but not Renegade.

The Browns shrugged off starting at their own 6 and marched right down into Steelers territory before finally facing a 3rd down at the Steelers 35. Hoyer tried to hit a tight end but William Gay made a great play to knock the pass away.
Big. Play. Bill. Gay.

The Prescription put the team on his back and got us out to midfield on his own. The Steelers went away from him and worked it to a 3rd and 1. The Browns stacked the box and the Steelers ran a shotgun draw to LeGarrette Blount that lost 4 yards. Everyone in the world knew a run was coming. No blocking back, against a loaded box. You have to have a hot route slant to AB in your audible book there, AB was 1-on-1 with Haden with no safeties deep.

The Browns take over with 2 minutes to go, and still no Renegade.

The Steelers finally get the Browns behind the chains when Cam Heyward collapses the pocket and sacks Hoyer on first down. William Gay knocks a pass away on 2nd down then makes a big tackle for a loss on 3rd down on a swing pass to a WR.

The Steelers take over at their own 43 with just under a minute to go and 1 timeout. They try a screen to Bell that gets stopped then waste 20 seconds getting lined up before getting off another snap. Ben hits Wheaton to get us across midfield but has to use our last timeout with 20 seconds left because Wheaton couldn't get out of bounds. With the ball at the Browns 45, the Steelers needed another chunk of yards to get into field goal range. Ben audibled Wheaton's route and hit him on a deep in for 20 yards.

Ben spiked it with 5 ticks left.

Suisham's kick was low and the ball looked sideways, but it went through.


A win is a win, but no one left the stadium with a good feeling in their stomachs.

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Le'Veon Bell
Defensive Game Ball: William Gay

Honorable Mentions:
Markus Wheaton

Ben Roethlisberger
Shaun Suisham

I mentioned in my Season Preview that Ben needed one more Game Winning Drive to move into the Top-10 All-Time. There it was.

This happened too.

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