Things didn’t start off too promising but eventually things fell the Steelers way as the team goes down to Carolina and wins with relative ease, 37-19.
The Good – The running game, the run blocking. Bell and then Blount in mop up duty. Both rushed for over 100 yards. Bell continues to be a big surprise, showing some great patience and some sweet cuts. The highlight of course was the 81 yard run, the longest run in the NFL this year and the longest Steeler run in over 40 years. Not too shabby!
- Ben wasn’t asked to do as much as usual but played well, especially as the game progressed, his best play was the sidearm special to Brown in the back of the endzone.
- Antonio Brown continues to be money, highlights include a great over the shoulder grab on a 3rd down, deep in Steelers territory. Huge play. The drive eventually resulted in 3 points for the Steelers. As mentioned, Brown’s TD snag in the back of the endzone. Finished with 10 grabs and 2 TD’s.
- The defense had by far it’s best game of the season. Specifically the front 7, which managed to get constant pressure on Cam Newton. Some highlights included Cam Heyward’s one arm pull down of Newton (nullified by offsetting penalties), LB Arthur Moats and NT Steve McLendon getting great pressure and snagging a sack each. The pressure was constant throughout the game which has been MIA until tonight’s game. Great to see.
- Wasn’t thrown to a lot but Markus Wheaton continues to look reliable when given the chance. Wheaton actually caught a TD pass but was ruled out of bounds before the catch. Looked to be dubious but it was overturned.
- LB Sean Spence, filling in for an injured Shazier, looked really good in run support.
- Steelers get their first turnover of the season as Newton lost the ball as he went back to throw. Later, Shamarko Thomas forced a fumble on a punt return which was eventually recovered for a TD. Hopefully Thomas will be given some playing time with the defense.
The Bad – Steelers got off to a pretty rough start. The offense’s first drive compromised of a wasted timeout (again), a penalty and 5 minutes taken off the clock after moving just 20 yards before punting (with a false start penalty to boot). Pass protection continued to be an issue early on which resulted in some stalled drives.
- First defensive play resulted in an easy 19 yard pass play for the Panthers as rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin was WIDE open on the play. This continued for some of the 1st half before the Steelers front 7 took over and managed to pressure Newton into some rushed throws. Newton looked to be injured throughout the game and had a number of inaccurate throws to some fairly open receivers.
- On a Carolina punt, a Steelers gunner is almost hit by the punt near the Steelers GL. Very dumb and lucky the ball wasn’t touched.
- Antonio Brown deciding to return a punt from the 5 yard line and he doesn’t get far. In addition, a block in the back penalty is called resulting in the Steelers starting on the 7 yard line. The good news is the Steelers managed to put together an impressive drive resulting in 3 points.
- CB Cortez Allen was picked on early and often. His coverage was mostly solid although he had issues breaking up a number of passes. His low point of the game was allowing TE Greg Olsen to beat him on an out resulting in a long TD reception.
- Some of the playcalling, especially early on was pretty hit and miss and fairly inconsistent.
The Ugly – Lawrence Timmons inuring fellow teammate Ike Taylor’s arm, likely ending his season and maybe his career. It was an ugly and dumb play by Timmons. Timmons was just going full steam ahead on the play, trying to be aggressive which is understandable but you still have to be aware of what’s going on.
- The Steelers TE Palmer getting called for an offensive pass interference penalty on a 1st and goal from the 1 yard line. Simply amazing. Penalty was bullshit but still amazing.
- All the flags, I’m tired of it, no more please.
Summary – A great win on the road. The Steelers next two opponents are likely the two worst teams in the NFL (Bucs and Jags) so let’s see if this team can get on a roll. The key is taking what worked and continuing that which has been a big problem under Tomlin. Consistency, cutting down on dumb mistakes and penalties, a coherent gameplan. Will it happen? We’ll see but Steelers have to be feeling pretty good right now.
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Steelers lose in embarrassing fashion on the road to the Ravens, 26-6. I only saw an abbreviated version of the game so will just lend some thoughts on it.
Remember the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray? Well, that’s what it feels like watching a Steelers game with Tomlin as head coach. NOTHING CHANGES. Well, I take that back, things are gradually getting worse, especially on the defensive side of things, as I believe we might very well be witnessing the worst Steelers defense in most of our lifetimes this season. Let’s look at what a Tomlin-led Steelers team is made of, especially now that this is most definitely his team, personnel-wise.
- No killer instinct
- Dumb penalties/undisciplined play
- Dumb turnovers due to sloppy play
- Poor use and evaluation of talent
- Poor in game management
- Outdated schemes
- Lack of adjustments
- Lack of toughness
- Lack of identity
I honestly believe that Mike Tomlin may be the worst head coach in the NFL at this point. What he positively brings to the team is still a complete mystery, no one knows. It’s a strange coincidence that the defensive draft picks have been worse under Tomlin and yet oddly, the Steelers have made some good picks with the skill positions on offense (Brown, Bell, Wallace). Maybe he should be demoted to WR coach.
Now, it ‘s not just Tomlin, obviously, that is the issue with this team. Why Dick Lebeau, at the age of 77, is still coaching is kind of mind blowing. Even if the players love him and even if he is a legend, it’s clear today’s game has passed him and his defense by. Haley is what he is, a master of inconsistency and head scratching calls at key points in games.
After last night’s loss, it’s hard picturing this team finishing with a winning record. Ben had a bad game and if he doesn’t have a great game this team has no chance of winning which is kind of a big problem. It’s way too much pressure on one play no matter how good he is.
I wouldn’t mind the entire coaching staff blown up after the season, same with the FO, nothing to lose at this point. I honestly don’t care what style this team plays on either side of the ball, I just want to see some really positive changes for the first time in years.
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After getting up to a commanding 27-3 lead in the 1st half in the home opener against the Browns, the Steelers need a last second FG to win it 30-27. Different year, same old shit I think sums up this game pretty well. It’s like the Steelers wanted to let fans know in the 2nd half that “See? Things haven’t changed!”
The Good - The first half. Specifically the offense which simply dominated, coming out in a no-huddle offense and moving the ball with ease. Defense played well too.
- Ben, the WR’s, Bell all looked great in the passing game in the 1st half. Ben looks in shape and his passes were on the mark for the most part. Almost 300 yards passing through the first 2 quarters.
- Le’Veon Bell really surprised with his speed at times after shedding some weight in the offseason, looking great on some screen plays and especially on the 40 yard TD run, which was a thing of beauty. Great run.
- Antonio Brown dominated early, amassing over 100 receiving yards.
- Another great surprise was youngster Markus Wheaton who caught everything thrown his way including a great 40 yard sideline snag, dragging both feet to ensure he was in bounds and some key grabs on the game winning drive in the 4th quarter.
- Overall, the aggressive offensive gameplan used in the first half paid off as a lot of us thought it would, hopefully the Steelers continue this approach in every game this season because this unit will be called on to the carry the team from the looks of things.
- Wing with a booming 50+ yard punt, where was that in the preseason??
The Bad – Marcus Gilbert and Kelvin Beachum both played poorly at times on the O-line, especially in pass protection. Gilbert allowed 2 sacks and Beachum was called for a holding penalty that nullified a Bell TD run on the opening drive (which ended in a FG instead).
- Ben’s INT in the 2nd quarter. Really dumb decision and inexcusable for someone with the experience and talent that Ben has. Even if the ball were to be complete it would’ve gone for about 1 yard. Late in the game on a 3rd and 1 and the Steelers driving with the score tied Ben elects not to audible out of a draw to Blount even though it was clear the Browns were blitzing. Result – a loss in yards and punt.
- The defense. I don’t think I’ve seen a game with so many wide open receivers. Backup RB’s ripping off 8 yard runs, 20 yard runs. It was ugly. The front seven is a borderline disaster. There are moments where this unit looks good but today it was few and far between. Maybe things will improve as the season continues but how much is another matter.
- Where is the pass rush with this defense? The team did tally 3 sacks but part of that was Hoyer holding the ball too long or broken plays. Aside from that, Hoyer routinely had time to throw the ball, especially in the 2nd half when the Browns started calling more PA plays.
- The second half illustrated how important coaching is. How many teams routinely blow big leads like the Steelers have under Tomlin and Co.? It’s truly amazing. The Browns made halftime adjustments and it showed in the 2nd half with misdirection plays, PA rollouts. The Steelers, on the other hand, clearly thought the game was over and decided to just go into neutral mode which happens all the time with this team under Tomlin. That is clearly a coaching issue.
- 11 penalties called on the team. Part of that is the NFL calling more penalties in general (complete horseshit) but regardless, not good. A lack of discipline is a reflection of a poorly coached team, which this team most certainly is.
- Rookie Dri Archer returning a kickoff 7 yards deep resulting in getting stopped at the 10 yard line. Not smart at all.
The Ugly – A play that will surely be shown a lot on TV, Antonio Brown’s foot stomp on the Brown’s punter on a punt return. On one hand, this was pretty funny especially since it was the Browns. On the other hand, Brown could’ve scored on the play if he had simply side stepped him. I’m all for sending messages but it wasn’t like this was necessary considering the score, who the player was or the score at the time. The play resulted in an unsportmanslike conduct penalty on Brown and most assuredly a fine for Brown later in the week.
The Lowpoint - The fake punt in the 4th quarter at the Steelers own 20 yard line in the 4th quarter. Against the Browns. After being up 27-3. Let that sink in for a minute.
Summary – The first half was fun, it was exciting, it gave us hope…and then the 2nd half gave us the cold reality of what will most assuredly be another frustrating season of watching a Tomlin-led team. To keep things in perspective, this game will probably be the easiest game of the season for the Steelers, the Browns look to be one of the bottom dwellers of the NFL and the Steelers gave up 24 points to them in the 2nd half at home in the season opener. It got so bad that Tomlin was desperate enough to attempt a fake punt at his team’s own 20 yard line. How do things get that bad so fast? It’s astounding in a way. Looking ahead, the Steelers go into Baltimore and face another rival coming off a loss who will be desperate to get a win.
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Here we are, a week away from yet another season of NFL football. Let’s hope that preseason is indeed meaningless!
Alright, let’s get down to it, starting with a look at the coaches.
Coaches - Well, what can you say at this point? Tomlin isn’t exactly a proactive head coach, and that’s putting it nicely, and there’s no been sign that is changing any time soon. Haley’s body of work is out there, if you will, and the results have been mixed with the Steelers thus far. There’s been talk of more no-huddle in the regular season, but until we actually see it fans everywhere should be doubtful. Promises have been made before with this offense and not delivered. I’ll just say this, no more 5 wide, empty set, I HATE IT, it basically tips your hand to the defense and offers no extra protection for a QB playing behind a still unproven O-line. Lebeau might have his hands full with some new players and a largely unproven front 7 along with an aging secondary. Mike Munchak was hired as O-line coach, good hire, we’ll see if he can improve and already improving O-line. I don’t know who the ST coach is but it might be time to fire him and just get it over with.
Offense – Big Ben and Antonio Brown are the only sure bets with this unit going into 2014. Heath Miller, normally money, is getting up in there in age and past injuries look like they may haven taken their toll on the warrior. TE looks to be a serious weakness with this team if Miller is unable to be effective this season. Outside of Brown, the Steelers WR corps is comprised of unproven players like Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown and older and injury prone players like Darrius Heyward Bey. O-line is still a question mark although the unit looked very good at times with Pouncey out of the lineup last season, probably the best its looked in years. RB looks to be solidified with the acquisition of Legarrette Blount and emergence of youngster Myron Bell. Depth looks to be a major concern with this unit and arguably with the entire team.
QB – Just say it with me Steeler fans – “Thank God Ben is our QB”, because after him it’s looking bad, really bad. Bruce Gradowski did a good impression of looking like an over the hill verteran QB with a noodle arm this preseasons and youngster Landry Jones is clearly not the answer as even a #2 QB.
RB - As mentioned the Steelers look to be fairly set with Bell and Blount as starters but after that it gets a little worrisome with small but fast rookie Dri Archer penciled at #3 and who the hell knows who else. This could really hurt the team at some point if there are injuries.
WR - Antonio Brown is money, after that it gets a little dicey. FA pickups Lance Moore and Heyward-Bey could be key contributors if they can stay healthy. Markus Wheaton looks to start opposite Brown and has shown some good things in preseason after not playing for most of last year, still a question mark considering experience. Youngsters Justin Brown and Martavius Bryant round out the group, both are very rough to say the least.
TE – Let’s hope Heath Miller can stay healthy and play at a high level because after him there is Matt Spaeth, the receiving dynamo and Michael Palmer. I still can’t believe Spaeth is back on the team.
OL – Lack of injuries is key, which given the recent history with this unit, is basically asking the impossible, because there is literally no depth here based on preseason play. Mike Adams, once a starter, has been demoted to backup status and he is probably the only decent backup. Marcus Gilbert and Kelvin Beachum are the starting tackles, serviceable for now, David DeCastro should improve even more this year at guard, opposite him is Ramon Foster. Maurkice Pouncey returns with a new contract, making him the highest paid center in the league, YIKES, let’s hope he actually stays healthy this year. The O-line last year arguably played better when Pouncey wasn’t in the lineup, which I guess is the reason Pouncey was rewarded with his gigantic new contract.
Defense – Like the offense, there really doesn’t seem to be much depth here. Cam Heyward and Troy Polamalu are the only sure bets going in to the season as impact players. There is some potential with some of the younger players, but time will tell. Contrary to popular opinion I think Ike Taylor can still be a shutdown CB but with the new emphasis on defensive holding his impact in that regard may be limited. Overall, under Tomlin’s tenure it’s hard NOT to see the softer approach with this defense with players like Ziggy Hood getting tons of playing time to prove themselves, largely failing and then moving on. This trend appears to be alive and well going into the 2014 season.go
DL – Outside of Cam Heyward there isn’t much to be excited about here as evidenced by the FO recently bringing back Brett Kiesel. Kiesel is a legend but he’s obvioiusly past his prime. Rookie Stephon Tuitt has shown some good hustle in the preseason, Cam Thomas was signed in FA and looks like he may be serviceable in spot duty, if he has to start it could be trouble. Steve McClendon is an enigma at NT, at times he looks good, other times not so much. Casey Hampton this guy is not.
LB – Once a mainstay strength of the Steelers, once the team’s identity, it’s hard to believe that isn’t the case anymore and maybe it isn’t although there are a lot of question marks with this unit. A LOT. Mainstay Lawrence Timmons is what he is at this point, a solid LB, hardly an impact player at the position though. Jason Worilds had a good year last year but consistency remains to be seen, it’s hard to imagine him in the same group as Greg Lloyd, James Harrison in terms of impact. Athletic rookie Ryan Shazier showed some flashed of brilliance in preseason at ILB including snagging an INT as he ran stride for stride with his man. With is smaller size how effective he will be against the run remains to be seen as he struggled with that at times in preseason. Jarvis Jones looks to be another Timmons, hardly an impact player, but may turn out to be a solid player at his position, it’s still too early to tell with Jones though, maybe he’ll surprise. Backups include unremarkable Vince Williams, Arthur Moats and often injured Sean Spence. Let’s hope Spence can stay healthy and contribute.
CB – The reliable Ike Taylor returns along with Cortez Allen as starters. As pointed out above, I believe Taylor can still play at a high level, although with the NFL continuing to crack down on defense that may hurt Taylor’s effectiveness. Allen should continue solid play opposite Taylor. Backups include Willie Gay and FA signings Brice McCain and Antwon Blake. Like with the rest of the defense it’s hard to get too excited with this group. Reality is Taylor is on the downside of his career even if he’s still effective, Allen will probably never be more than a solid #2 CB and the rest of the CB’s are strictly backup/nickel guys. Nickel and dime defensive matchups could be a problem.
S – FA signing Mike Mitchell replaces departed Ryan Clark at FS, but judging by preseason it looks like Clark never left as Mitchell’s slow speed and bad angles showed up a number of times. Hopefully Troy can still continue to play at a high level and help to create TO’s. Sharmarko Thomas showed some nice flashes in preseason, with some quick strikes, in space he could have some problems. Robert Golden and vet Will Allen round out the group, this is probably one of the deeper positions on the team right now.
ST - Hopefully punter Adam Podlesh doesn’t get injured because backup Brad Wing really struggled in preseason. To the point where it makes one surprised he’s even on the team. Reliable Shaun Suisham returns along with long snapper Greg Warren. Should be interesting to see how speedster rookie Dri Archer does with returns, not a fan of Antonio Brown still getting returns, hopefully some other players get in there. Overall, until we see otherwise, don’t be surprised by the same mistakes, holds, mental lapses that have been part of the Steelers ST’s since who knows when. If there’s improvement that will be a nice surprise.
Outlook – First thing everyone does when looking ahead at the next season is to look at the schedule and deduce the team’s chances for the new season. But in today’s NFL where parity reigns supreme, it’s largely irrelevant, and it’s especially irrelevant with the Steelers under Tomlin when you consider all the bad teams the Steelers have lost to under Tomlin in recent years. It simply doesn’t matter. Trying to predict a final record is pretty useless because I can see this team finishing anywhere from 6-10 to 11-5, a lot depends on luck, if Ben stays healthy and other factors like the youngsters stepping up. There’s just too many X factors, Tomlin’s inept coaching, Ben staying healthy, youngsters stepping up, etc. If I had to pick a record I’ll go with 8-8. Again. Let’s hope for the best and hope I’m wrong.
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Steelers beat the Browns fairly easily at home 20-7.
The Browns game was a snoozer, Steelers win in typical fashion. Bell continues to look good. Ben had an OK day. Defense looked good at times, real bad at other times especially against the run. Same story.
The real story of the day is the stars almost aligned for the Steelers to make it into the playoffs…almost. The Steelers would’ve made it had the Chiefs beaten the Chargers which went into OT after the Chiefs kicker missed a 41 yard FG at the end of regulation. What a letdown. What a heartbreaker after the Ravens and Dolphins both lost earlier in the day and the Steelers took care of their business, all which needed to happen for the Steelers to stay alive.
It’s also too bad that the Steelers didn’t take care of business earlier in the year – starting 0-4 and with losses to the Titans, Bears (at home), Vikings, Raiders, Dolphins (at home in the snow in a virtual must-win situation). It would’ve taken a miracle to make it in and it almost happened but the Steelers in the end have no one to blame but themselves. When you’re relying on a team of backups to win a game on the road and the hope of decent NFL officiating to get you in you know you did something wrong. And boy did the refs screw the Steelers in the Chiefs-Chargers game. The Chargers attempted a fake punt in OT and it appeared the runner had the ball stripped but the refs didn’t even review the play.
What really doesn’t make sense on the play is if the runner had crossed the first down marker (seriously, check the video replay on nfl.com) then he fumbled the ball, because he fumbles or has the ball stripped right at around the 1st down marker. Where do the refs draw the line on a play like this? An explanation is definitely owed by the NFL on this. Very bizarre that the refs didn’t stop the play to at least look at it. Instead the ref (the incompetent Bill Leavy) simply said “the runner gained the line to gain” or some horseshit. So, uh, that means what? No fumble? Sounds good. The officiating in the NFL is a complete joke.
As for the Steelers maybe they will start the season off next year with a little more urgency. Maybe the team will finally realize that all 16 games count. Tomlin needs to go but anyone hoping for that to happen will be in for a disappointment for sure, especially after the Steelers managed to almost make it into the playoffs. Will that be the ceiling going forward with this team under Tomlin – almost making into the playoffs? Good enough! I shudder to think. Let’s hope for some good moves in the offseason and a decent draft.
Steelers win another crazy one, 38-31, on the road against the Matt Flynn-led Packers.
The Good - Antonio Brown made some nice plays, including a deep grab in the 1st half and a great punt return. He also broke the Steelers single season receiving yard record, very nice!
- Steelers defense holding the Packers offense to FG attempts on a couple of drives deep inside the 5 yard line. One was actually blocked.
- A few players on defense – Heyward, Sylvestor, Worilds, Timmons and Troy all made some really nice plays, especially in applying pressure on Flynn and causing TO’s. Heyward had another pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. Cortez Allen had a really solid day including a pick 6 in the 2nd half.
- The fake punt conversion. Very nice, surprisingly accurate pass downfield by the punter on the play.
- The O-line played another solid game all around.
The Good/Bad – Bell had a hundred yards rushing and the O-line looked great against a bad Packers run defense. Steelers still too conservative though. This is how the Steelers obviously want to play and when there is any success at all they always, like clockwork, go back to it way too much in games. This game was no exception. It’s not 1995 and Jerome Bettis, a power running game and an all-pro O-line is no longer the Steelers identity. Accept it, move on. This team did accept this in previous weeks but bad habits are hard to break I guess.
The Bad - Ben had a decent game, including scampering for a TD, but a number of his passes seemed off especially on some deeper throws and on a crucial 3rd and short at the end of the game, missing Bell on a short pass.
- Seeing the defense look horrible for most of the 1st half. Kiesel was back in the lineup and looked bad for a good bit of the game. He did get a sack and fumble recovery in the 2nd half though. Run defense bad as ever. Watching huge cushions in snowy weather against a GB offense with a backup QB playing. What kind of message does that send to your team? The defense tightened somewhat to begin the 2nd half but crumbled again as the game went on. There were some great individual efforts at times as illustrated above but as a whole this defense needs some help.
- Why is Ryan Clark still playing? This is another case of the Steelers coaching staff playing favorites with vets, which just hurts the team.
- The complete clusterfuck on the final offensive drive of the1st half resulting in only 3 points instead of a TD. Once again Tomlin wastes a TO earlier in the half which combined with too many runs and too much clock between snaps = poorly prepared and coached team settling for a FG. This kind of series has happened numerous times and is indicative of a Tomlin coached. This is what you get.
- The opening drive of the 2nd half. The Steelers seemingly aware that they are still alive for a playoff spot decide to pucker it up per usual under Tomlin.
- The conservative approach with roughly 4:30 left in the game, tied, after the Steelers converted a 4th and 1 at midfield. Classic Tomlin. Classic loser schizo ball mindset. Aggressive to go for it but then go completely conservative after. The results – 2 run plays and a failed 3rd and 5, punt. This kind of approach basically puts all the pressure on the QB to convert the 1st down on 1 play. If they had succeeded on this play, there’s a good chance the next set of plays would be the same with all the pressure on Ben to convert on a 3rd down. This is low percentage ball with the game on the line, just stupid, playing with no heart.
- Ben seemingly audibling (?) to run plays with mostly mixed results.
- Bell with a fumble at the Steelers 3 yard line. That can’t happen. Bell also had another drop in this game. He is a good receiving RB but there does seem to be a pattern of him dropping a ball or 2 each game so far this season.
The Real Bad - The final sequences of the game courtesy of probably the dumbest head coach in the NFL, Mike Tomlin. A Packers penalty gives the Steelers offense a fresh set of downs inside the Packers 10. The offense has a 2nd down with GB now out of time outs, with 1:28 left in the game. TAKE TIME OFF THE CLOCK. It’s arguably more important than scoring a TD and the ensuing kickoff and Packers return more than showed that. If the Steelers had simply kneeled down on the ball it would’ve taken the clock all the way down to virtually no time left instead of the minute and a half the Steelers left on the clock for the Packers. Kick the FG, win the game, no time left. This kind of stupidity never changes. Fire Tomlin! I can’t take it anymore. It’ll be a miracle if the Steelers even make it back to the playoffs with this numbnuts at the helm. Why? Because it’s pretty hard for a team to find consistent success with a bad head coach.
The Embarrassing - The refs giving the ball back to the Packers with a 1st down after they had a FG blocked. Why? Because they ruled that Ziggy Hood illegally forwarded the ball or some such bullshit. They then explained that since the Steelers never had possession of the ball it would be given back to the Packers. I don’t think I have ever seen a more absurd call or rule in all of football. NFL just keeps getting more and more unwatchable. The Packers would then score a TD. So basically a team is penalized for a good play (blocked FG) while the other team who had their FG attempt blocked is rewarded with better field position and a 1st down. Yep, sounds about right. Tomlin tried to challenge the play as it looked like Ryan Clark did indeed have possession before stupidly trying to pitch the ball back to another Steeler player. An all around big embarrassment for the NFL. Business as usual for Goodell.
Summary – The Steelers play with some heart today although it seemed like the team as a whole went back to the puckered up conservative ball which has plagued the team for some time under Tomlin. Tomlin never learns is what we have learned today. Neither team played very well to be honest, with mistakes and blunders everywhere. Believe it or not, the Steelers remain alive for a playoff spot going into the final weekend of the regular season. Do they deserve it? Nope. Will they get it? Probably not. Will they win next week anyways? Probably, which will drop them in the draft of course. And thus, the Steelers saga under Tomlin continues. Let’s see how it all plays it next week, it should be exciting at least.
Steelers get virtually every break in the 1st half and hold onto win in fairly comfortable fashion, 30-20 over the Bengals at home.
The Good – The offense continues with the wide open aggressive approach with mostly good results. There was a good bit of no-huddle in the 1st half. Ben looks to be in complete control of the offense and played well. O-line continues to play well, which is fantastic to see. It’s strange that in this disappointing season that one of the biggest issues that this team has had for some time, the O-line, has actually quietly improved even with injuries as the season has progressed. Part of that has to do with wide open offense and Ben getting rid of the ball quicker. Credit Haley for some of that.
- Bell continues to play solidly and consistently, over 100 all-purpose yards.
- Dwyer and Felix Jones helped to chip in with some quality runs in the 2nd half. Dwyer looked great in particular on a pitch sweep play.
- The defense looked very active early on. Hood actually got a sack on a stunt play as Heyward absorbed two blocks on the play, freeing up Hood. Heyward continues to impress.
- Troy was all over the field. Guy can still play.
- Antonio Brown, TD punt return.
- Suisham with an impressive 45 yard FG in the open end of Heinz Field with a ton of wind to contend with. Very impressive.
The Bad - It got a little bit uncomfortable in the 2nd half as the Steelers once again let off the gas and allowed the Bengals to creep slowly back into the game. The Steelers defense went into prevent about midway through the 3rd quarter. The Bengals pulled within 10, 20-30 midway 4th quarter and would’ve been within 8 if they had converted on a 2 point conversion. Jarvis Jones tipped the pass on the 2 point conversion play.
- Ryan Clark, that’s all.
The Hilarious - Lamar Woodley going out in seemingly the first series of the game with his recurring calf injury. Watch the Steelers re-sign this guy to a 5 year contract.
The Sad – Does anybody actually live in Pittsburgh these days? Weird to see a virtually half empty stadium the last few games.
Stupidest Thing Said All Year – Collinsworth commenting that things would’ve been much different for the Steelers this year if only Pouncey hadn’t gone down with his injury in the opening game of the season. Clearly this numbnuts does not watch the actual games, not even the ones he’s actually covering. The O-line has progressively played better and Velasco has actually played better at center than Pouncey has in a long time. Hell, Cody Wallace at least looks like he gives a damn out there which is an improvement over Pouncey
The Rah-Rah’s - Tomlin has been in a real “Rah-Rah” mode in the last couple of weeks. I’m guessing it’s to overcompensate for his lack of actual coaching. “See, guys? It’s all about execution!” One thing I’ve noticed through the years – whenever a head coach is going full on rah-rah on any and every positive play, no matter how small, it’s a sure sign that the head coach is actually pretty clueless as a coach and probably a little desperate.
Summary – How fitting that the Steelers win a game late in the season now that it virtually doesn’t matter. Watch this team win the final two games, miss the playoffs and drop in the draft. With a strong finish like that no coaching changes necessary. Rinse, repeat for next year, can’t wait! Sometimes I feel like I’m slowly losing my mind watching this team under Tomlin and the Rooneys.