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Week 7 Steelers-Cardinals Recap

It wasn’t easy at times, but the Steelers eventually glide to a fairly comfortable win over the hapless Cardinals, 32-20.

QB – Ben had probably his best game of the year, ending the game 25/38, 340 yards and 3 TD’s. There were some misfires, some miscues with WR’s (a running theme this year) and a good bit of hesitation in the pocket (which led to a number of tough hits on Ben), but other than that not much to complain about in regards to Ben’s play today. His deep ball to Wallace on the record-setting 95 yard TD pass was spot on. His redzone TD pass to Manny Sanders, as he eluded pass rushers, was a signature Ben play. It’s nice to see that Ben is quicker to dump the ball off when things aren’t open downfield, but more of that would be even nicer and make for an even more efficient offense.

RB – Rashard “Mr.Softee” Mendenhall had another hum drum game, gaining an “impressive” 32 yards on 13 carries. Yep, a big new contract is in order. Mendy did have a few nice runs, and actually broke a tackle or two but overall he once again showed that he doesn’t like contact (he seemed to go down like a sack of potatoes on most hits) and hesitates way too much, especially behind this O-line. On the first run of the game, Mendy bounced outside resulting in, once again, a bigger loss than if he’d just ran straight ahead. On a GL run inside the 5, Mendy somehow managed to trip over his own O-lineman which resulted in no gain. Redman was given just 6 carries but made the most of them, once again out averaging Mendy with a nice 5 yard average. Moore was given some playing time and played like he usually does, which is reliably good, gaining 26 yards on 6 carries. Mendy should study Moore’s running style – he simply does not hesitate and hits a hole VERY quickly. Let’s review – Mendy (It would be CRAZY to trade this guy!) – 13 carries for 32 yards, Redman/Moore – 12 carries for 55 yards.

WR/TE – Wallace was simply terrific on his 95 yard TD reception, burning the Card DB’s on the play. He played unevenly the rest of the game, though. He had a very catchable pass earlier in the game down the sideline but couldn’t come up with the goods. Late in the game he let a somewhat difficult pass go off his hand incomplete. The rest of the game he had just two catches. Brown had one of his best games as an NFL WR, finishing the game with 7 grabs for 102 yards, which included a great one handed grab near the sideline on a big 3rd down play. It was good to see Sanders involved more in the passing game as he has been largely absent this year. He finished the game with 5 grabs for 48 yards. Miller and Ward both chipped in 3 grabs a piece, including a TD grab by Miller as he was wide open in the endzone on the play. Jerricho Cotchery actually played a little in today’s game but dropped a pass and then disappeared.

OL – Not a very good game by these guys. The run blocking was decent at times, other times not so good. In pass protection, there were definite leakage problems, although it was worsened by the fact that Ben hesistated on 5 and 7 step drops throughout the game, which allowed the Cards front 7 to simply tee off on Ben on every pass play and forced the O-line to hold their blocks longer than they should be asked to. Starks, in particular, looked pretty bad in pass protection as Card pass rushers simply ran around the big slow man. Kemo took another totally retarded personal foul penalty in the 1st half as he jumped onto a player on the ground. It turned what would’ve been a 3rd and 3 into a 3rd and 18 and an eventual punt as the Steelers were driving. Simply retarded.

DL – A so-so game by this patchwork group. At times, the D-line was pushed back early in the game on Cardinal run plays, but overall they did a decent job against the run. Steve Mclendon, starting at NT for the first time in his career due to injury, did a really admirable job. On one play, he knifed through a block for a negative stop on a run play. He finished the game with 4 solo tackles, which is pretty damn good for a NT in a 3-4 in his first start. The D-line probably had their best game of the year in terms of getting pressure on the QB. It helped that Kolb panicked like a nancy boy whenever he felt a sliver of pressure. Kiesel and Hood were fairly quiet on the stat sheet but got a decent amount of pressure at times.

LB – Woodley had probably his best game of the year, finishing with 6 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced safety. Pretty nice numbers! It helped that, for whatever reason, he was either blocked by a tightend (like on one of his sacks) or simply left unblocked (like on his forced safety) for a good part of the game, but good game nonetheless. Timmons was so-so in his continued position at OLB. He was pushed back at times on run plays but seems to be improving from last week. Farrior and Foote were both exposed for the old players they are. Foote was constantly stonewalled on run plays and was completely invisible in all other phases of the game. Farrior was burned badly and I mean BADLY on a short passing route to Cards RB LaRod Stephens-Howling which ended up turning into a 73 yard TD pass reception. On the play, Farrior was simply left in the dust as Stephens-Howling took a short crossing pattern and then turned up the sideline en route for the TD.

CB/TE – Taylor had probably his worst game of the year as he was picked on both in the passing game and with penalties from the officials. On a deep sideline pass to Larry Fitzgerald, Taylor was unable to defend the pass and Fitz came away with the goods. Taylor has a history of not really doing a great job of physically defending a pass, he usually has good coverage (like on this play) but struggles with the actual defense of a nicely throw pass. This play was no different. Fitz went on to finish the game with 4 grabs for 78 yards. In the first half Taylor was called for a combination of defensive holding, pass interference, etc. Some of the calls were bulshit but there is no doubt that Taylor committed a number of legit penalties today. He also failed to make a couple tackles. Gay was fairly active, showing some nice tackling skills and decent pass coverage. Troy was pretty quiet and dropped an INT that hit him right in the bread basket. Clark had a gimme INT as a ball was deflected right into his hands. Clark was also exposed once again as the slowest FS in the NFL on the 73 yard TD pass to RB Stephens-Howling. On the play, not only did the backup Cards RB blow by Farrior he also blew right by Clark. Is a backup RB supposed to be able to outrun a starting FS that easily? I don’t think so.

ST – Suisham had probably his best game of the year as he connected on all 3 FG attempts today. Good job, Suishers, let’s keep it up. Brown had some really nice returns, which is a nice trend to see. What’s not a nice trend to see, though, is another punt fielded inside the 5 yard line, which is what happened today. That’s about the 5th or 6th time that’s happened this year so far. Where the hell is the coaching?

Arians – The Steelers offense finished the game with 424 yards and 30 points. Pretty good! Nice to see the offense actually pull it’s weight for once on the road. Still not a fan of what amounts to a mish mash of plays with no clear plan or vision of attack. It actually worked for the most part today, partially due to the fact that the Cardinals defense isn’t very good and partially due to Ben extending plays as usual. I have to wonder – Is Arians OK watching Ben take a weekly beating as he sits back in the pocket on 5 and 7 step drops? Is he just along for the ride? There were a number of plays today where it looked like Ben could’ve been seriously hurt but I saw no real effort to eliminate those kinds of hits in the playcalling. There was a mix of some short and quicker passses but not enough considering the hits and pressure the Cards were getting on Ben. I understand that Ben likes to play the game like a gunslinger but there’s a time and place for that. Where were the 3 step drops from a couple weeks ago? Oh well, Arians ain’t changing. It’s best to just enjoy the offense in games like today where the team scores around 30 and is fairly efficient.

Lebeau – Lebeau’s defense did allow a couple long TD drives but overall did a decent job. I liked how he got his front 7 to get some fairly decent pressure on Kolb. It helps that Kolb and this whole Cardinal offense has been pretty bad this year, and today wasn’t too different. And maybe it’s just me, but it really seems like the secondary is playing better and more disciplined than they did last year (Ike Taylor’s penalties today notwithstanding). I guess we’ll have a better idea next week! Let’s hope Keenan Lewis continues to progress as a CB. I have to continually question Lebeau’s usage of Farrior in pass coverage and today was a perfect example of why. Still some questionable personnel moves.

Tomlin- Mr. Do-Nothing actually had his team ready to play for four whole quarters today! This might be a first in a LONNNNGGG time. Well done, Tomlin. I think Tomlin is fully aware of his team’s tendency to just play for half a game and it’s good to see he is acknowledging that. Still some questionable coaching like allowing (once again) a punt to be fielded at around the 5 yard line today. I think the Steelers are the only team in the NFL that does that and it’s not something to proud of. Tomlin also seems to be fine having his franchise QB take a relentless pounding which is obviously a concern. Still a decent job of keeping his team on task today.

Overall, a nice road win against a fairly bad team. Still a lot of question marks, we’ll find out more with the next stretch of games. It should be very interesting!

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