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Steelers-Cowboys Recap

Steelers lose in another sloppy (and crazy) filled game on the road to the Cowboys, 27-24 in OT. About the only silver lining in this loss is the Steelers still control their own destiny to the playoffs. Although, who knows if that even matters at this point.

The Good – Heath Miller once again came to play, amassing almost 90 yards in the first half and obviously trying his hardest to make up for the continual sloppy play of the WR corps. For reasons we’ll probably never know, he was then taken out of the gameplan the rest of the way until one lone catch in OT.

– Keenan Lewis continues his solid play at the CB position including, including great coverage on a deep pass, a pass breakup on a 3rd and 8 in the 1st quarter and a terrific pass breakup in the endzone late in the game. Lewis was injured on the play and would not return.

– A nifty dump off to Will Johnson for an easy 13 yard pick up in the 1st half. Why aren’t more calls like this called in this offense? Later in the game Johnson made a nice snag down the sideline for 21 yards. Outside of Miller, this guy might’ve been the most consistent and reliable receiver in this game.

– Watching Ben buy eons of time in the pocket, spin out of trouble and finally find Miller down the sideline for the Steeler’s only TD of the 1st half. A thing of beauty.

– Nice to see a good return by Antonio Brown without any penalties on the play.

– Watching Jerricho Cotchery making a GREAT leaping grab deep inside Cowboys territory. The old vet can still make some plays.

-Watching James Harrison come through like the champion he is as he forces a HUGE fumble with Kiesel recovering inside the Steelers 10 as the Cowboys were threatening to go up by 10-0. Late in the game, Harrison also had a HUGE sack forcing a Cowboys punt with the game tied 17-17. It was all for naught, though. He was also held a good bit, of course no flags called by the refs.

– After being picked on for a good amount of time, newly activated CB Victorian breaking up a pass after Romo bought a ton of time to find someone downfield.

– Timmons had another really nice game in both run support and pass coverage including a HUGE run stop on the Cowboys 1st possession of the 2nd half on a 3rd and 1. Timmons also had another nice play where he flew in like a torpedo for a big 13 yard sack on Romo. Unfortunately it was another wasted effort as the Cowboys somehow drove down for a TD on the drive.

– Watching Redman’s terrific effort and run on the 1st play after the Steelers get the ball back after the Harrison sack.

– Seeing DeCastro’s 1st start in a real game and playing very well. Same goes for the rest of the O-line. Unlike last week, Ben had tons of time in the pocket today. That is until the end of the game and OT when things got a little bit shakier. Still, an improvement over last week.

– Wallace finally contributing with a big 60 yard grab on an underthrown ball by Ben, leading to a Steelers TD.

The Bad – Another long list as the Steelers played sloppy and dumb for a good bit of the game, per usual. Honestly, the Steelers were extremely fortunate to be tied at the end of the 1st half as they were outplayed by the Cowboys for most of the game up to that point.

– The scattershot and predictable offensive gameplan, especially early on was hard to watch without becoming extremely frustrated. Not much rhyme or reason or strategy to it. This led to watching, for a second straight week, an opposing defense seemingly knowing the plays the Steelers offense was running. Laying on routes, jumping on bubble screen plays, etc. Haley needs to mix things up better, show different looks. He really seems to be on cruise control right now which is unacceptable.

– On the first drive another drop by Manny Sanders after a big hit. It was initially  ruled a fumble but overturned which lead to…

– A horrible play on 3rd and 10, a short slant to Wallace that was deflected by the Cowboys D-line and nearly picked off, even if Wallace catches that ball he is getting stopped short and maybe fumbles considering all the defensive traffic around him.

– Finally watching a decent offensive series on the 4th drive of the game only to have it sabotaged with some really bad execution, broken plays (the missed handoff to Dwyer) and a poor WR screen play on 3rd down leading to a FG instead of potential and much needed TD. This late in the season and still mistakes like this is hard to watch.

– Ben, early on and late, used some bad judgment and audibles leading to some near turnovers and in the end one turnover in OT. Of course the underachieving WR corps didn’t help in that department.

– Poor run by Rainey on a nifty draw play out of the shotgun on a 3rd and 5. Good call, actually, poor execution.

– Another crappy punt and coverage by Butler and Co. Quick, someone fire the ST coach.

– Watching a defense that looked flat and lackadaisical early on, no pass rush and some real poor play including –

– Watching Foote get stiff-armed for about 5 or 6 yards on an early 3rd and 1 run play. Watching Foote run unabated up the middle and completely missing Romo. How about inserting a younger and faster LB on these kinds of plays instead of one of the slowest players on the teams? Just a thought.

– Soft cushions early on by the CB’s, if you’re going to run that defense then make sure you make the tackles when the WR’s make the early short catches, which didn’t happen on a number of plays.

– Speaking of tackling, way too much sloppy tackling throughout the game. Poor effort all around.

– Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray averaged almost 6 yards a run. That’s all that needs to be said about the Steelers run defense and all the sloppy tackling in this game.

– Watching Cam Heyward over peruse and inadvertently opening up a huge hole for an easy run on the Cowboys 1st drive.

– Watching Foote in pass coverage, it was ugly in 2008, it’s REALLY ugly in 2012.

– Watching the softee coverage in the 1st half by the Steelers secondary. Newly activated CB Victorian picked on early and often.

– Watching Kiesel and the rest of the D-line bounce around like a bunch drunken pinballs on the Cowboys big run at the end of the 1st quarter, setting up a 1st and goal.

– Seeing one Steeler CB with a 15 yard cushion on the Cowboys 3rd and 6 with about 2 minutes left in the game. Of course that’s where Romo went with the ball, luckily the ball was thrown low and the Cowboy had to go to the ground to catch it, forcing a 4th down and punt.

– Seeing Polamalu not do much at all.

– Seeing Woodley generate hardly any pressure on Romo.

– Watching zero pressure on Romo as he leisurely finds a rookie TE down the middle of the field for an easy 29 yard completion down to inside the Steelers redzone. On the next play, Rome finds a SUPER WIDE OPEN Jason Whitten in the endzone for an easy TD. Too easy, way too easy.

– Seeing this offense recently only score TD’s when running a no-huddle offense. Like with Arians, doesn’t say much about the job Haley’s been doing of late.

– Crappy ST punt  and coverage on the ensuing 4th down punt after the Wallace drop as the punt hits around the 10 and bounces into the endzone. Net punt of about 29 yards, GREAT. Quick, someone fire the ST coach.

– Watching a horrible dumpoff by Ben on 3rd and 5 after Brown’s great punt return. The ball ended up bouncing at the feet of Will Johnson (or was it Dwyer?). Could’ve been a 1st down, another wasted opportunity. Let’s not forget the overly conservative playcalls and formations on this short series right after the Steelers scored a TD on the previous no-huddle drive at the end of the 1st half. Very strange. Ben actually had a number of bad throws where he short-hopped receivers.

– Watching what seemed like a NICE snag by Wallace along the sideline on a big 3rd and 6 on the Steelers 2nd drive turns out to be another Wallace fuck up as he bobbles the ball before getting just one foot inbounds. What a underachieving player of late. Wallace was thrown to 7 times before he actually caught a ball in this game. That’s not going to cut it.

– Jonathan Dwyer continuing to show the world that he is a B-level RB in a starting role. Decent RB but doesn’t excel at anything, questionable vision and fairly slow.

– Seeing the YMC be almost irrelevant on the 2nd quarter TD drive. At least the Steelers finally went to other options since these WR’s weren’t getting the job done.

– Watching Ben take a horrible sack on a 3rd down on the Steelers last drive, taking the Steelers out of FG range, although the FG would’ve been very long regardless.

– …And…another horrible punt/coverage at midfield after the 3rd and 5 into the endzone. Quick, someone fire th– Ah, forget it.

Watching the Steelers do their hardest to lose the game at the end of the 4th quarter, after taking the lead, 24-17.

– Fumble by Brown on the punt return

– Horrible playcalling/execution/routes/protection on the Steelers final offensive possession.

– A 15 yard cushion on a 3rd and 6 (luckily not converted by a bad Romo pass).

– Brown running out of bounds after a short catch on 3rd and 26, allowing the Cowboys to save a TO.

– HORRIBLE punt coverage on an actual great punt by Butler at the end of the game.

– Steelers taking a TO after stopping the Cowboys at midfield with 34 seconds left. Why? Because they are an unprepared team that plays not to lose games instead of playing to win games. All starts with the supposed man at the top.

– Ben’s INT in OT  which sealed the loss, the cherry on top was Wallace just watching the CB pick it off, watch him get up off the turf and run about 30 yards to the GL. I’d say that is pretty indicative of what this team is all about – lazy, dumb, half-hearted efforts way too much of the time.

The Ugly –Larry Foote on Jason Whitten – that should never happen.

– Watching a fake handoff bootleg by Ben for about 3 yards and a hit at the end. Horrible playcall if it was a playcall, with the way this offense has been playing who knows what the hell happened.

– Watching Dwyer miss a handoff (and possibly another on the Ben bootleg play). How many offenses at this point in the season are fucking up like this? Unbelievable.

The Weird – WHY not keep throwing to Miller in the 2nd half? The Cowboys can’t cover him, throw in Paulson as well, who hasn’t been thrown to since October. Very strange the way this team plays and is coached.

Another predictably frustrating game by the Steelers, filled with some great plays and a lot of dumb plays. Two games left, let’s see what happens. I thought it was pretty telling when Phil Simms mentioned during the game that they asked Tomlin about why the Steelers have seemed flat recently to which Tomlin replied “There’s nothing special I can say, it’s up to the players to make plays.” A very defeatist outlook from a mediocre head coach that clearly has no answers to the problems on this team.

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