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Steelers-Packers SB Recap

The Steelers will not be bringing hom #7. Hats off to the Packers who thoroughly outcoached and outplayed the Steelers en route to a 31-25 win in Super Bowl 45.

– Ben played a poor, sloppy game. Holding onto the ball too long? Check. Pump faking repeatedly? Check. Inaccurate passes? Check. Still struggling to hit Wallace downfield accurately? Check. Always looking downfield? Check. At times Ben looked like he was in a perpetual daze out there like on the Steelers last TD drive where Ben was taking an eon to hike the ball on every down, even though the Steelers were down by 2 scores with just 11 minutes left on the clock. Maybe Ben is still injured, maybe he’s not quiet as good as we thought, maybe he’s not being coached properly. Maybe all the above. Just a head scratching game by Ben. He did have some nice throws but overall it was a disappointing game by a player that could’ve really cemented his legacy in this game. Instead this game just leaves some wondering.

– Mendenhall had a pretty good game until his fumble in the 2nd half which was one of the major turning points in the game. Who knows how the game would’ve turned out if Mendy doesn’t run directly into Clay Matthews’ helmet with the football. Ouch. Moore actually had a couple really impressive runs where it looked like he wasn’t getting anything and broke it to the outside or juked about 3 players to get a 1st down.

– WR’s were fairly quiet. Wallace did have nice numbers but his actual game was a little iffy. After this playoff run, there are still concerns regarding Wallace. His route running is still suspect, his running style if very rigid (although yes, fast), and it doesn’t seem like he is very good at fighting for the ball in a physical matchup with a DB. In Ben’s second INT, which was a bad decision, Wallace needs to make sure the DB doesn’t pick that pass off and he didn’t. Wallace is a very young and good WR but I don’t think he can be considered a true #1 WR…yet. Ward and surprisingly Randel El came up big whenever their numbers were called, making some great grabs at times. Sanders was injured early and didn’t return which really hurt the passing game. Antonio Brown apparently messed up a route early in the game and was barely thrown to after that.  Miller was inexusably underused in the passing game along with the RB’s.

– The O-line was by far the best unit on offense. There were a couple miscues but overall one hell of a game by these guys. Legursky did a great job in place of Pouncey. Kemo did mess up and was bullrushed back into Ben causing the 1st INT that was returned for a TD. Of course, Ben didn’t need to do a pump fake on the play so part of the blame lies with Ben.

– The D-line was pretty much a non factor with the Packers barely running the ball. There was no pressure or batted balls by these guys.

– Woodley had some nice pressure on a few downs and a batted ball early on in pass defense. Other than he was pretty quiet, especially with Rodgers getting rid of the ball so quick most of the night. Harrison seemed to be back in coverage a good bit which made no sense considering he is the teams best pass rusher. Timmons made a couple nice plays. Farrior was a liability in pass coverage once again, he tries hard but he shouldn’t be out there in those situations.

– Gay had a bad night, but here’s the thing, he’s not a starting CB! He could’ve played better but McFadden (who IS the starter) was just as bad. Anthony Madison surprisingly played a pretty good game in coverage aside from the miscue in the endzone that allowed a TD pass. Troy had another disappointing postseason game. It seemed like he was stuck back playing deep middle all game and didn’t really do much aside from a couple really nice open field tackles. Clark was a complete embarrassment in coverage all game. On Jennings TD grab over the middle Clark’s lack of athleticism was clearly on display. A faster, more athletic FS (which is what the Steelers sorely need) would’ve probably had an INT on that play. I like Clark and would like to see him contribute somehow on this team but he just isn’t FS starting material.

– The ST’s had a couple horrible penalties that led to Ben’s pick six and in burying any realistic chance of scoring a TD on the final drive. There were some nice returns but overall a bad game from the ST’s. Suisham barely made one extra point and then was stupidly asked to attempt a 52 yard FG later in the game which he, of course, missed.

– I’ve been critical of Lebeau’s schemes in defending the pass but in last night’s game I’m not sure how much he is to blame for this loss. When Gay and McFadden are both playing subpar, it kind of makes things tough. Still, Lebeau didn’t seem to introduce any new wrinkles to confuse or get to Rodgers which was disappointing to see. He kept Troy in the deep middle of the field for what seemed like most of the game which was pretty stupid. Equally as dumb was continually using Harrison in pass coverage. Was Lebeau hoping Harrison would take another INT to the house like in the last Super Bowl? He’s the best pass rusher on the team! The key was to get to Rodgers. A head scratching move. But let’s be honest, the defense most certainly did not lose this game. To start the 2nd half the Steelers defense continually stopped the Packers offense (even with Packer WR’s drops, they were still stops) which gave the Steelers offense golden field position. They didn’t do anything with it.

– Arians called another hum drum stupid game. What exactly was this offense doing for the two weeks leading up to this game? Because they sure as shit didn’t look very well prepared or in sync at all for most of the game. Yes, Ben had a bad game but how much of that was helped by a totally unimaginative gameplan and playcalling? Too many two TE sets to start the game just like always and of course way too many smoke screens to the WR’s. Whenever Mendy had a nice run the Steelers would go back to the well way too many times in a row which eventually resulted in more 2nd and 3rd and longs. It’s called mixing it up and creating a rhythm on offense which is something that hardly ever happens in this offense. It sure as hell didn’t happen last night. It’s like the gameplan was to hand off to Mendy or have Ben sit back in the pocket waiting for a WR to get open downfield. Why wasn’t there more of a focus on the short passing game? Why was Miller sorely underused in the passing game? Why were the RB’s never thrown to and hardly ever used in the passing game? With the WR’s matched up against some pretty good CB’s and having problems getting open, you have to try something else which didn’t really happen (where the HELL was the no-huddle offense???). When a QB is struggling, make it easier for him by having him get rid of the ball faster on easier and shorter passes to, yep, running backs and Miller. But that hardly ever happens in this offense. I seriously do not know if I can take another year of watching a Bruce Arians offense on the field.

– I’ll ask again – Just what the hell were the Steelers doing for the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl? What was Tomlin’s plan exactly? Because by all acounts it was for his team to show flat, unprepared, unfocused and lacking in any discipline. This. Is. The. Fucking. Super. Bowl. Just a pitiful showing by Tomlin on down. Neither coordinator introduced anything new for this game, I guess Tomlin thought this was going to be good enough to get the job done? I guess he thought the Packers were not a very good team. It’s almost like the team took 2 weeks off, went on vacation and then decided to play a game. When a defense isn’t getting the job done, when the offense isn’t getting the job done AND turning the ball over 3 times AND when the ST’s are committing one stupid ass penalty after another, when you collectively add all that up, the head coach needs to take a big heaping pile of blame for that. This is how ill-prepared the Steelers were for this game – in the 2nd half Ben had to burn a TO as the offense continually looked like they didn’t know what the hell was going on (was the gameplan just to run the ball?). Then the defense had to call a TO. The Steelers are down to just one TO in a game they never lead. Those two TO’s could’ve really helped on that final drive, it changes the dynamics and makes what the Steelers can do on that drive completely different. To top all this off, Tomlin elected to attempt a 52 yard FG even though Suisham barely made an earlier extra point attempt. The ball sailed about 20 yards wide of the FG post. Just a stupid, stupid, stupid decision. I guess I’m in the minority, but I fail to see what makes Tomlin such a great head coach.

Other thoughts – Is the NFL fixed? I still can’t get over how flat and unemotional the Steelers seemed to be through the entirety of this game. It was almost surreal to watch. The effort, the emotion, the gameplan, it all seemed like the two teams were playing two totally different games. One (the Packers) was playing like it was the Super Bowl (because it was, maybe?). The other (the Steelers) was playing like it was a preseason game. Just bizarre. This horrible loss aside, I just don’t know how much more of the NFL I can take. From the ignorant media to Goodell to the overly greedy owners it’s starting to wear me down as a long time fan.

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