Monday, December 15, 2014

Bell's Broke Loose in Georgia: Steelers WIN


The Steelers got some great news about an hour before kickoff - Julio Jones was inactive for the Atlanta Falcons.
With Jones off the table, suddenly this turned from a game that had you crapping your pants to a game that the Steelers should win.

First Quarter

The Steelers won the toss and took the ball. The running game wasn't doing much but Ben was sharp through the air, picking up big chunks with each throw as the Falcons were stacking the box against Bell. The deep middle was wide open and Ben hit slants and deep-in routes to drive us into Falcons territory. The Steelers didn't even face 3rd down until they were inside the red zone but couldn't pick it up.


Steven Jackson got the Falcons off to a good start grinding out some yards but Matt Ryan missed a few passes and the defense forced a punt.

The Steelers caught a huge break when Le'Veon broke a check-down pass for 44 yards down the sideline thanks to a block from Bryant. Initially it looked like they were going to call a block in the back but the refs decided to pick up the flag and let the play stand. Ben went right after the Falcons, hitting Heath down the seam to a chorus of "HEEEEEEATH" from the Pittsburgh South contingent.

A sack set things back and AB got swarmed in the middle of the field on 3rd down before he could get to the sticks.


This Steelers team isn't very secretive, they have started slow in almost every game this season. Like the last 2 weeks, you felt like the dam was going to break at some point and wished the Steelers had built more than a one-score lead.

Second Quarter

Enter William Gay.

On Twitter this week I asked who the Steelers 3rd best defensive player is right now. I don't think there's any debate, it is William Gay. And before you say Big Play Bill Gay doesn't bring it, watch this play again.

Gay undercut a Ryan pass for Harry Douglas and made a leaping interception, taking it down the left sideline. When it looked like he was bottled up by linemen, he put on the shimmy shakes and somehow broke free and suddenly had a caravan of blockers to get him all the way TO THE HOUSE.


For all the Steelers single-season records that were broken, this was one I didn't see coming. This was Gay's THIRD pick-6 of the year, a Steelers record.

The Falcons got called for an offensive pass interference penalty for a pick play that essentially ended their drive.

Unfortunately, the Steelers couldn't deliver the knockout punch and had to punt.

The Falcons came right back and drove it into Steelers territory. The refs gave the Falcons a gift with an absolutely terrible roughing the passer call on a Jason Worilds sack.

Worilds came untouched around the end and drilled Ryan right in the chest on a completely clean hit.

Worilds had his head up and hit Ryan in the chest with his facemask, not with the crown of his helmet. Ryan didn't even try to throw the ball and took the sack.

No clue.

The penalty gave the Falcons new life and 3 plays later they turned it into points when Ryan hit Devin Hester on a fade route.


Credit where credit is due, every time the Falcons scored in this game, the Steelers came right back and answered. Ben hit a few passes to get us into a 3rd and manageable at the 2-minute warning. Le'Veon converted on a short pass. After Ben hit Weaton to get to 3rd and short, Tomlin strangely used his first timeout then used a second after Bell moved the chains. Bizarre use of 2 timeouts with 1:19 on the clock. With only 1 timeout left, the Steelers had to jump into hurry-up mode with the ball just across midfield. Two short passes got us to the edge of field goal range and Ben spiked it to stop the clock with 38 seconds left. Needing yards, Ben took a shot down the sideline for AB who was initially called out of bounds but replay showed he snagged the ball and tapped his second foot better than the Great Russian Nutcracker.
Pretty fitting reference because that catch was like a swift kick to the nuts of the Falcons D.

The Prescription punched it in on the next play.


Matt Ryan was checkdown city even though the Falcons had 23 seconds and 3 timeouts.

Third Quarter

The Falcons got the ball first and got off to a quick start when Devin Hester broke a WR screen down the sideline for 50 yards. Mike Mitchell somehow made a tackle but injured himself in the process. The Falcons couldn't do anything else but the Hester catch was enough to get them into field goal range.


The next drive was total garbage as Antonio Brown got called for two penalties on the same play - a facemask when he tried to stiffarm a guy and a taunting penalty.

Without Julio Jones, the Falcons offensive attack was clearly at a disadvantage. Ryan didn't even attempt a pass more than 25 yards downfield. However, they put it together on this drive and got all the way down to the goal line by dinking and dunking their way down the field. They tried a run at the 1 but sorry Steve Jackson, Cam Heyward is for real and blew the play up in the backfield.
Outkast is from Atlanta, had to work that reference in somewhere.

A pick play didn't work on 3rd down and Mike Smith settled for 3 again.


Bell got blown up in the backfield but AB made a big grab across the middle to tie Hines Ward's single-season record and get us into 3rd and short which Bell converted. Ben wasted no time and went play-action to Heath down the seam again to get us into Falcons territory.

Fourth Quarter

Out of the break, Ben went to the play-action well again and found Wheaton open down the left side to get us into the red zone. The run game was bottled up for most of the game, but when it counted they hit on the counter trey that had annihilated the Bengals last week and Bell zoomed around the left side and walked untouched into the end zone.


One drive just eliminated the Falcons entire 3rd quarter.

The Falcons had found a rhythm on their last drive and kept rolling with the short passes with Harry Douglas breaking a WR screen for 40 yards to get the Falcons into the red zone. Mike Michell made another surprising tackle in that it was a surprise that he actually made the tackle, albeit 40 yards downfield. Three plays later, Ryan hit Roddy White on a slant route in the end zone.

Tough to stop that.


The Steelers came out determined and AB took a WR screen for 12 yards, giving him the single-season receptions record.
Wheaton reeled in a crossing pattern that he legged out to the sticks but that was about it for the drive, sending the ball back to Atlanta with over 6 minutes to play.

The defense has been porous all season but they dug their heels in and defended the turf, holding Atlanta to a 3-and-out thanks to a solid tackle on 3rd down by Vince Williams. Mike Smith opts to punt rather than go for it on 4th and 2 with 5 minutes to go.

I'm as critical of Mike Tomlin as anyone, but credit where credit is due, the Steelers did everything they could to run out the clock and ensure the Falcons did not get the ball back. Usually in this situation the offense gets conservative but Tomlin put the ball in Ben's hands and let him win the game. We got some help from an illegal contact call on 3rd down that sent Falcons Twitter into a rage you would've thought Clete Blakeman was William Sherman.

Le'Veon Bell got a few carries to force Atlanta to use their timeouts and allowed Bell to break Barry Foster's single-season record for most yards from scrimmage. Atlanta used their last timeout with 2:42 left.

The Steelers stayed aggressive, throwing a short pass to Bell that set up a 3rd and 1 after the two-minute warning. That catch put Bell ahead of Ray Mathews for the most receiving yards in a season by a running back in Steelers history. Mathews set the record in 1955.

We had run the ball all day in short yardage situations and Ben beautifully went play-action and lobbed a pass to a wide open Heath Miller down at the 15 yard line to seal the deal.

Victory Formation


Ben Roethlisberger is the 6th NFL quarterback to beat 31 different teams.

No time to rest now with the Chiefs coming to town. If we beat Kansas City we're in the playoffs.

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