Steelers win a wild one at home, 51-34, over the Andrew Luck-led Colts. Big Ben has a historic day.
The Good – As mentioned, Big Ben had a historic day, 522 yards, 6 TD’s and a 80%+ completion percentage. He is the only QB to have 2 500 yard plus games and is only the 4th QB to have 100 wins in the first 150 games started. Wow. Congrats, Big Ben. His actual performance was fantastic, almost every pass perfect.
- The WR corps had their coming out party in a way. Antonio Brown was his reliable self, snagging 2 TD’s, including one fantastic one handed grab in the endzone and another 100+ yard receiving game but Wheaton and rookie Martavius Bryant also contributed in big ways. Bryant had 2 TD’s and a couple huge catches, Wheaton had 1 TD and 5 grabs. A complete performance all around. Even Lance Moore chipped in with 2 grabs. We could also add Heyward-Bey but he fumbled after making his lone reception.
- The O-line simply dominated the Colts defense all game long, which was key in helping Ben make history. Ben had ample time on most of his throws and the run blocking was solid. Just image if Ben had this kind of protection for most of his career. The much criticized Mike Adams had a great game at right tackle.
- The defense was playing like it was 2006. Aggressive throughout with blitzes which generated relentless pressure on Andrew Luck. In a weird way it reminded me of the 2006 divisional playoff game against the Manning-led Colts where Manning’s pocket collapsed play after play. It was beautiful to watch but it makes one wonder where this was in the previous 7 games this year.
- 3rd down efficiency was fantastic with the team finishing 8/13 but at one point it was actually 8/10.
- Ryan Shazier, returning from injury, looked good early on with a nice open field tackle resulting in no gain on a short dump off pass. Could’ve easily gone for 5 or 10 yards. It looked like Shazier may have been injured later in the game, not a good sign.
- Special teams coverage was once again great with a number of Colts drives starting inside their own 20 yard line.
- Big play Willie Gay really opened up the lead for the Steelers in the 1st half with his pick 6.
- The playcalling overall was simply superb, mixing run and pass plays beautifully. Passes were all over the field, deep, middle, short. The Colts defense had no idea how to defend what they were seeing. At first they tried blitzing, didn’t work and were forced to back off and they still struggled for most of the game.
The Bad – The game didn’t start very well with the Colts marching down the field with relative ease on the opening drive before settling for a FG.
- Maybe the most troubling thing about the win was even with the constant pressure on Luck that the Steelers defense created the team still struggled to contain Luck and the Colts offense as they rang up 34 points. The secondary, and Cortez Allen in particular, struggled to cover receivers effectively at times. To be fair, there were some horrendous flags that helped to keep Colts drives alive. More about that later. Also, Andrew Luck is pretty damn good.
- Too many penalties again at bad times, although some were bullshit. Some boneheaded turnovers as well and some sloppy play in the 2nd half like the delay of game penalty in the 4th quarter. I don’t understand how something like that happens but it’s an all too common occurrence with this team unfortunately.
- The Big Ben quick kick/punt was just dumb. Kick ended up being blocked and recovered around the Colts 40. Led to points for the Colts.
- The feeling that even with big leads at times in the game that the Steelers were never really in complete control until the final score late in the 4th quarter sealed the deal. That goes back to coaching and the overall mental makeup of the team which is a reflection of the coaching. No lead is ever safe with this team. Consider that the Steelers lead was cut at one point in the 2nd half to just 8 points, 34-42 and stayed that way until Luck luckily (for the Steelers) fell on his ass at his own goal line and the Steelers got a safety out of it.
The Real Bad – Once again NFL officiating is a giant steaming pile of shit. A ton of bad or at the very least very borderline calls went against the Steelers defense for a good bit of the game and to be fair there were a couple of really bad calls on the Colts defense late in the game as well. I think this game might’ve broken the record for the most illegal contact penalties in one game. It was ridiculous and I’m baffled that the NFL doesn’t realize that this is not good for the game, throwing a stream of flags onto the field just slows down what is an entertaining game and gives an unfair advantage to the offense when the rules already favor that side of the ball. Just stop please, it’s ruining the game.
Summary – It was great to see Ben and the offense kick some serious ass and the team get a win over a quality opponent. Next week is a huge divisional game against the Ravens. Every team in the AFC North is amazingly above .500 right now. There isn’t much room for error going forward. I’ve asked this for years now after the Steelers put up a good performance – can it continue? Or will the Steelers revert back to loser ball like so many other times in recent years under Tomlin after a big win? Until proven otherwise it’s best to remain skeptical, or at best cautiously optimistic going forward. We shall see.
Steelers benefit from tons of Texan mistakes, capitalize and win at home, 30-23.
The Good - Bell and Antonio Brown continue to carry the offense. Bell accounted for most of the offense in the 1st half, including a number of short catches and running for a ton of yards after the catches, he had 43 yards on one of those catch and runs in the 1st half. Brown made a terrific sideline grab in the 2nd half as he held onto the ball while being physically challenged by a Texan CB. Brown was also robbed of a TD grab in the second half as the officials ruled he was out of bounds, he was not.
- D-Lineman youngster Daniel McCullers looked great on the D-line. Kiesel was active, Heyward was decent.
- Martavius Bryant making his first NFL grab and it’s a 30 yard TD snag to make the game 13-10 at the end of the 1st half. Great grab and play.
- Steelers defense stopping Houston on 2nd and 3rd and less than a yard on their first possession of the 2nd half. Great stand. The defense played better in the 2nd half.
- Brice McCain looked pretty good at CB.
- The last 3 minutes of the 2nd half which resulted in 24 points for the Steelers, completely crazy sequence of events. After the Steelers pull within 3, Houston fumbles the kickoff return resulting in starting at their own 4. Arian Foster would then fumble on 3rd down, Steelers recover, resulting in an Antonio Brown TD pass to Lance Moore on a trick play. Houston QB Fitzpatrick would then throw an INT (Kiesel with the snag) on the ensuing drive with a minute left resulting in a TD pass to Bell.
- No penalties in the 1st half. The refs actually didn’t call hardly any penalties at all which is how it should be. I’m sure Goodell is very pissed off about that.
- Special teams coverage was really good, definitely best it’s been this season.
The Bad - The entire 1st half, outside of the last 3 minutes, was mostly another shitshow for the Steelers. Here is a list of what happened.
- Ben missing rookie Martavius Bryant deep on the sideline on the 1st drive of the game. Ben started off with some misfires and had an overall OK game, not one of his better games that is for sure.
- Houston converting a 1st down on 3rd and long deep in their own end on their 1st drive of the game. The next play, Foster would run for 10 yards and another 1st down, big momentum switch, that’s a killer especially for a defense needing an early stop. The drive would eventually end in a Houston TD with Foster running for a ton of yards. Way too easy.
- The run defense was really bad in the 1st half. Huge holes, this LB corps might be the biggest weakness unit on the team, they can’t attack and they get blocked easily and swallowed up on way too many run plays. Tackling continues to be a big issue. Steelers have to be one of the worst tackling teams in the NFL. Good job, coaching staff. It’s one thing if it’s one or two guys but when it’s almost everyone on defense then that’s a coaching issue. Things improved in the 2nd half, but still inexcusable.
- After trailing 10-0 the Steelers offense responds with two vanilla run plays for 2 yards resulting in a 3rd and 8 which would then lead to another bad pass by Ben along the sideline to Wheaton, punt, barf, puke. This might be the worst coached team in the NFL. It’s a pure shitshow watching these guys play, this probably the most disinterested I’ve been as a fan in my lifetime. I don’t even know why I’m still writing up recaps of games at this point. *Note* The last few sentences was how I was feeling in the 1st half, like most Steeler fans I’m guessing these days.
- Foster/Beachum bum combo missing stunts by the Texan defense in the 1st half resulting in sacks, forced throws, etc. including a sack on Ben on a 3rd down resulting in just 3 points after trailing 13-0. There was one play where Beachum was almost bullrushed right into Ben. That would’ve been ugly.
- Some play design and of course playcalling was very questionable at times. On a 2nd and 5 inside Texans territory the Steelers run a nifty play action play with a two TE set, but guess what? There was literally no one downfield except for Heath Miller on the play (who is covered). How is a play like that supposed to succeed? Ben flings it out to Will Johnson the FB in the flat and misfires, wouldn’t have mattered as it would’ve gone for about 1 yard if caught.
- Dri Archer taking a kickoff return and running about 40 yards laterally to the other side of the field and out of bounds at about the Steeler 16 yard line. Great return. Later in the game he would be stopped at about the 18 yard line. Why is this guy returning kickoffs?
The Questionable - The trick play with Antonio Brown getting a pitch and reversing field ending in a TD pass to Lance Moore. The play was unnecessarily risky given it was called inside the 5 yard line. Easily could’ve been intercepted. It worked which is great but definitely would not want to see that again.
The Stupid - Steelers electing to try to draw the Texans defense offside on a 4th and 6 inches at the Texan 40 yard line in the 3rd quarter instead of simply calling a QB sneak and having Ben diving forward. Simply stupid and classic Tomlin “playing not to lose” mentality.
- Texans defense offside on a 3rd down play and Ben elects not to throw it downfield. What the hell. It’s a free play. Dumb.
Summary - Houston’s implosion at the end of the 1st half and some key drops were huge in swinging the game completely towards the Steelers. 2 turnovers inside their redzone in the matter of minutes and on the road will lose you most games and tonight was no different. Before those turnovers happened the Steelers looked to be in serious trouble. Overall, it’s a win which ultimately is what matters but it’s hard to be too excited going forward. Still lots of dumb mistakes and decisions from this team. Next week should be interesting.
Steelers go into Cleveland in a big early divisional rematch and the Steelers get completely steamrolled and routed, 31-10.
The Good - Not much to be honest. The run game looked good early on but the Steelers offensive gameplan was conservative to an absurd level. The first half playcalling consisted of almost all runs and resulted in just 3 points on the first 3 possessions, Steelers did eat up a lot of clock but with the way this team plays and is coached in tight games in the 4th quarter not a, arguably, smart approach. Maybe the coaching staff realized the defense would have problems with the Browns Hoyer-led offense (and they did) and wanted to control the clock but guess what? YOU HAVE TO SCORE POINTS as well. In the end this was another typical and scared, ass backwards gameplan from Tomlin and company in a big game. Tomlin clearly was scared that the 2nd half of the first game against Cleveland would happen again and signed off on a super conservative “play not to lose” gameplan. Rinse, repeat, this is what Tomlin is all about as a head coach, a gutless scared head coach, a complete fraud.
- Brown had a couple nice grabs, Bell had 82 yards, blah, blah, blah.
- Cam Heyward with a big time sack on 3rd down on the Browns opening possession of the game. Heyward applied good pressure throughout, he’s a keeper, one of the few on this team at this point.
- Steelers defense early on, looking tough. Good pressure on Hoyer. No first downs on first 2 series. -8 yards for Cleveland’s offense but that would change of course.
The Bad – Dri Archer returns the games opening kickoff and promptly runs right into his own teammate who is blocking a Browns player. Steelers start inside the 20. Archer then gets a carry on the 2nd possession and promptly falls down Is Archer supposed to be fast? Why was this guy drafted in the 3rd round?
-Horrible playcall on 3rd and goal for the Steelers from around the Cleveland 4 yard line on the 2nd possession of the game. A run…For no gain with Blount. This after the entire drive, outside of one play (pass interference call on browns), consisted of run plays. Way too predictable and odds of getting in on a run up the middle in the situation cannot be very high, this wasn’t the 1 yard line.
- Wheaton dropping a 3rd down pass inside the Browns redzone in the 1st half. This would lead to a bobbled hold/missed FG attempt, which would then lead to…
- On the Browns 3rd possession, Hoyer leads them easily down field for a TD, hitting a Browns TE downfield who was WIDE OPEN, setting up a TD run at around the Steelers 3 yard line. Kiesel, of all players, makes the tackle way downfield on the play. Ugly. Another defensive breakdown. This would then lead to more defensive breakdowns and pretty much a complete defensive collapse as the Browns would take their next 2 series and drive easily for more TD’s, 21-3. The 2nd TD was another big pass play over the middle with Troy up on the play in coverage and Allen getting burned as the TD pass went to a Browns TE for the score.
- The Steelers run defense continually got gashed as the game progressed. This has to be the worst run defense since…the 80’s? Maybe even worse.
- The Steelers never recovered or adjusted after trailing 21-3 at halftime. The offense never kicked it into high gear, to start the 2nd half the offense was still puttering around with short plays, run plays. Ben had a bad game but was definitely effected by the playcalling and the ultra conservative gameplan which handcuffed him. Really depressing to watch.
The Depressing - The overall outlook of this team going forward, there is nothing to be optimistic about honestly. I posted last year and the year before and the year before that I believed that Steeler fans would eventually be forced to open their eyes to the fact that Tomlin is not a good head coach. How many people believe otherwise at this point? I don’t want to be right on this but it is what it is and it’s only getting worse. How long before a change is made? I look over at the Penguins who were in a very similar situation with their head coach Bylsma, fired him, hired Mike Johnston and the future looks bright again, to start the season the Pens have scored 11 goals in their first 2 games.
Summary – It is what it is, the team simply isn’t very good, poorly coached, questionable talent. Until real changes are made it’s extremely hard to get excited going forward regardless of schedule and it only gets harder from here on out.
Steelers play their 100th straight sloppy game in a row, edging out maybe the worst team in the NFL, the Jaguars, 17-9 on the road. Overall, the game was a real slop fest as both teams committed dumb penalties, execution wasn’t the name of the game.
The Good - The running game was solid. Ben had an OK game. His game early on sort of reminded me of his bad day against the Raiders a couple years back, it felt like it was going to be one of those kind of games, especially when he had one pass almost intercepted in the 2nd quarter. He was good but lackadaisical at times with his passes and decision making. Antonio Brown had a couple great grabs that kept drives alive. Heath Miller chipped in. The O-line wasn’t awful in pass protection.
- Defensively, the secondary had a good game up against rookie WR’s and an inexperienced QB in Bortles. Cortez Allen picked off a deep pass in the 1st half and Brice McCain had a pick six in the 2nd half that may have been the play of the game which gave the Steelers the 17-9 lead.
- At times the front 7 applied good pressure against Bortles. Worilds had a sack and Brett Kiesel had a nice pressure and pass deflection in the 4th quarter on a 3rd down.
The Bad – Once again the Steelers play down to their opponent and once again the team shows up sleepwalking through the 1st quarter of a game. The Jags hadn’t scored any points on an opening drive this year and once again the Steelers defense helped to end another streak as the Jags drove fairly deep on their opening drive settling for a FG.
- The Steelers offense didn’t get a first down until about a minute left in the 1st quarter, 3rd possession of the game. Gotta ease on it to those games, guys. Don’t forget, teams are a reflection of their head coach.
- Somehow the Steelers special teams was penalized for being offsides two times in a row, first penalty accepted, re-kick, offsides again. Luckily, the Jags were penalized on the 2nd kickoff so it was offsetting but seriously that is pretty damn bad.
- Overall, the Steelers had 7 accepted penalties called against them. One holding call early in the game on a kickoff resulted in the Steelers starting at their own 12. That’s a good way to struggle.
- Markus Wheaton dropped a pass on a 3rd and 5 early in the game. He seemed to be absent for most of the game after that, I hope that was just a coincidence and not a way of “punishing” a player for a mistake which seems to happen with this team. To be clear, it’s one thing to bench/remove a player from the gameplan if that player is making the same mistake over and over or not playing well, but Wheaton has played very well thus far this season. Oddly, repeated mistakes are the ones that seems to be tolerated with this team under Tomlin.
- Jags sacked Ben 4 times. To be fair to the O-line, most of those were coverage sacks/Ben holding the ball too long.
- With the score 10-9 in the 4th quarter Ben turns the ball over on a fumble in the Jags redzone. Not good obviously.
The Headscratching – Steelers throwing to Brown with 2 minutes left in the game. Jags had no timeouts left, the only reason for doing this would be to keep Brown’s record of consecutive games with 5 catches or more intact. Bush league but I wouldn’t expect any less with this team under Tomlin at this point.
Summary – A win is a win but this was a boring, slop fest from start to finish. Not much to take away from it other than the win and the assurance that this team ain’t changing any time soon. Next week Steelers go into Cleveland and face a tough, feisty Browns team who will most assuredly give the Steelers a very tough game.
Steelers play another sloppy one, eventually losing to probably the worst team in the NFL, the Buccaneers, 27-24 in the final seconds of the game. At home. I’d like to say I’m shocked but that is not the case.
The Good – The offense looked good at times. Ben had a solid game although he did miss some open players.
- Antonio Brown and Heath Miller, the two most reliable players, were unsurprisingly money throughout although Brown did drop a huge deep pass late in the game off a flea flicker play that probably would’ve sealed the victory for the Steelers. Probably but even then who knows. Miller and Brown did both drop consecutive passes early on in the game.
- Markus Wheaton continues to be a very reliable #2 WR, snagging a terrific over the middle pass on a 3rd down early in the game after the offense had started off poorly.
- Lawrence Timmons had an active game, amassing 7 tackles and 3 assists. Cam Heyward had some nice pressure at times, including getting sack and deflecting a kick on a Bucs FG (it still went in, but barely), as well as some nice run stops including a tackle for a loss after the Steelers closed the gap, 10-3 in the first half. Arthur Moats filling in at outside LB had a couple plays where he got pressure on the QB including one play where he timed his rush perfectly off the snap. James Harrison, in his first game back as a Steeler, actually drew a holding call, I think that might be the first time that’s ever happened.
- Troy Polamalu had a really active day near the line of scrimmage, including forcing a wobbly pass after hitting the QB as well as helping out against the run. I don’t buy that Troy is done as a safety, he still has great acceleration. After today everyone should be questioning the defensive gameplan and scheme if they weren’t already. I have to question how effectively the defensive players are being used under Lebeau at this point. I really don’t think a lot time players are being put in positions to succeed with this stale defense.
- The Bucs defense was clearly focused on stopping Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers run game. The run game did struggle at first but eventually the O-line did open some holes for Bell and he had some nice runs. At times though Bell did a little too much dancing and came away with less. Blount spelled Bell at times and did a good job. Dri Archer came back after injury but was barely used in the offense. I believe he had one run for -1 yard.
The Bad – The Steelers, like in so many games under Tomlin and especially following a big win, looked like they all had just rolled out of bed to start the game. This included 2 offensive series ending in 3 plays, the first series Ben was sacked and fumbled with the Buccaneers recovering the ball which lead to their first TD. The Bucs returned the punt after the second Steeler offensive series (which was the dreaded run, run, pass, punt combo) to midfield which lead to a FG (Bucs up 10-0 in the 1st quarter). The first quarter was filled with sloppy play, a ton of penalties and a just all around shitshow until the Steelers 3rd offensive series. Got to ease into the game and boy did they.
- Ben was sacked 5 times in the first half, mostly due to poor tackle protection from Beachum “the bum” and Gilbert “the sloth”. On one play Ben injured his hand as he hit it on Gilbert’s helmet as Giblert was pushed all the way back into Ben on the play. The tackle play on this team is a huge weakness and it’s clear that it’s holding back the offensive potential. Beachum was called for holding inside the redzone nullifying a Heath Miller TD grab. The Steelers won’t but the coaches should consider playing Adams in place of Beachum.
- All the penalties. 13 for 125 yards (!) that were accepted. All the sloppy, undisciplined play. Inexcusable and amazing that this kind of play continues under Tomlin without any sign of it changing.
- Lebeau’s softee defense in the 4th quarter, which helped the Buccaneers win it in the final seconds of the game. The Steelers defense actually stopped the Bucs inside the redzone with less than 2 minutes left in the game after routinely giving up easy passes on the drive. If the Steelers were playing a competent offense this would’ve been a game winning TD drive. But it wasn’t over because the Steelers offense can’t get a first down and of course the ensuing punt is horribly short with the Bucs getting the ball at midfield and then driving back down with one huge pass play over the middle to set up the final seconds TD pass. We’ve seen this one before haven’t we? Lebeau should be replaced but the head coach that accepts this kind of gameplan needs to take the blame for allowing it to happen.
Summary - As I noted in the season preview, the schedule simply DOES NOT MATTER with this team under Tomlin. They are a true original in finding new ways to choke to bad teams. This team can literally lose to anyone, regardless of talent difference and today was just more evidence of that. In the 1st quarter a stat showed up showing Tampa Bay with just 15 yards of offense and the Steelers with 145 but yet the Steelers were losing 10-3. How does that happen? It happens when a team is sloppy and undisciplined. Which means they are coached poorly. Tomlin needs to go, I’m not sure what other evidence is needed at this point. The Steelers play another bad team next week going down to Jacksonville, I’m predicting the typical bounce back win but a loss should not surprise anyone at this point. I think the dam is finally breaking.