Big Lead Sports Bar

11/15/2009

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

BENGALS (7-2) 18
STEELERS (6-3) 12
ROETHLISBERGER 20-40, 175 YARDS, 1 INT
MENDENHALL 13-36
HOLMES 7-88

Nobody's perfect, which the Steelers proved while basically handing the 2009 AFC North division crown to Cincinnati on Sunday. A few thoughts on the disappointing conclusion to "Homecoming Weekend":

1. Why did the Steelers lose? A few reasons:

A. They couldn't run the ball. Rashard Mendenhall led the team with only 36 yards.

B. There was no offensive balance, with 18 runs and 40 passes. I love Big Ben like few do, but those numbers are out of whack.

C. Lack of big plays: the Steelers had only one play of 20 yards or more, and that only went for 21. The biggest play of the day was a 46-yard pass interference call drawn by Mike Wallace.

D. Ben Roethlisberger was human. A below-average 50% completion percentage, no touchdowns, and one interception proved that. I was waiting for "Get Me My Hat II", but it was not to be.

E. Poor special teams. The Steelers allowed their seventh return touchdown of the season, and we're only nine games in. It would also help if someone would teach Jeff Reed how to tackle already.

F. The Steelers were an awful 3-for-15 on third downs. That's not going to get it done against a bad team, let alone a 6-2 team.

G. They couldn't finish drives. Four field goals and no touchdowns is rarely enough offense to win a game.

2. It's hard to pin much blame for the loss on the defense, which was playing without Troy Polamalu for most of the game. They bent but never broke, they held Cincinnati to 61 yards rushing on 29 carries (albeit without Cedric Benson) and they limited Chad Ochocinco to two catches for 29 yards. Not to mention that they didn't give up any touchdowns. If you ask me, that's a pretty complete effort that should've been good enough to win the game.

3. As hard as it is, I/we must give credit to Cincinnati. They've swept both AFC Championship teams and barring a complete collapse should win the AFC North. They have been and will continue to be a legitimate threat in the conference. Plus, their remaining schedule includes pushovers Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit, and Kansas City. They're not going away anytime soon.

4. Hines Ward was virtually erased by the Bengal defense, targeted on 10 passes but connecting on only four, for 26 yards. The only time he was really noticed was when he got in a Bengal's face.

5. Big Ben looked Santonio Holmes' way a whopping 14 times, and connected on just half of those. Holmes had two catches in the second half after grabbing five in the first.

6. While Sunday's result was a major letdown, the season is not over. Yes, it just got a whole lot more difficult, but it is not over. To be honest, I think the injury to Troy Polamalu could be an ever bigger concern than this loss.

7. Wow - a Willie Parker sighting! One carry and one ball thrown in his vicinity now passes as a lot of work for a two-time Pro Bowler who's rushed for 125 yards or more against the Bengals four times in eight games.

8. I don't have an entire list of celebrity sightings at the game on Sunday, but at the very least I can tell you that Mean Joe Greene and Russell Crowe were both on hand to watch the Steelers lose. Greene was accepting his Clio Award 29 years late, and Crowe took in the game while in town filming The Next Three Days.



9. I thought I heard Dan Marino swear during the CBS halftime show and it turns out that he did. Hope the FCC watchdogs aren't football fans.

10. Don't get too down, Steeler Nation: next on the schedule would be Matt Cassel, Mike Vrabel and the Kansas City Chiefs, now 100% Larry Johnson-free. Sounds to me like the perfect elixir for a tough loss.

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24 comments:

Koz said...

I was bummed by the Steelers loss today, but at least it didn't end the way the Patriots game did. YIKES

Impressed by the Bengals defense today. Good coverage downfield and good pressure.

Jeff Reed can learn tackling from his next team. His kickoff distance is as poor as the tackling. Combine that with the off-field antics and he's not worth re-signing. Gotta get a boomer to create some touchbacks.

Chip said...

What I loved about this game was it was a total face slap to all the dopes who went on and on about how our new offense was soooo smart and great and "The Steeler Way" was some stupid idea we had to let go of.

You wanna chuck the ball 40 times? You don't want to rely on the running game? You want to pretend you're the Patriots? This is what you get. Embarrassing losses and probably no playoffs.

Ben isn't Peyton or Brady. He is good for what he does but he isn't a great pure passer. If you expect him to throw 40 times a game and be deadly accurate, you're going to have games like this where he misfires on like 75% of his passes. You can't put the ball in his hands for 60 minutes every game and expect to win. He's not that good.

Likewise, we don't have Reggie Wayne or Randy Moss. We have good receivers, not great ones. We can't chuck the ball 40+ times a game and expect to hit home run balls. Plus our line isn't good enough to protect Ben to where he can get the ball deep on a consistent basis. If we don't run the ball to set up passes and keep the pass rush somewhat at bay, the passing game is sunk.

Basically, if this team doesn't get back to playing football the Steeler Way and stop listening to all the idiots who think we could be the second coming of the 2007 New England Patriots, we'll right the ship. We keep doing things like we've been doing and it's 9-7 if we're lucky.

Mr. Jeremy Lenzi said...

just a minor correction - the movie that russell crowe is filming is called "the next three days" -- state of play came out earlier this year and while crowe wore a pittsburgh steelers hat at one point, it was shot in washington, d.c.

Steve said...

“If you ask me, we didn’t throw it enough. When you have a QB who is about as accurate as a blind child hitting a piƱata and a rushing attack that is averaging a measly 4.4 yards a carry in the game (only 3.8 yards a carry minus the Ben scramble), the best idea is to let the blind kid keep whacking away. Eventually, he’ll crack that sucker open because if we can’t get 15 yards a carry, only an idiot would continue running the ball. I just wish there was 20 more quarters to play.” – This post courtesy of the vapid thoughts of Bruce Arians.

No Super Bowl this season folks. Not when you’re 1-2 in the conference, 0-2 to the Bungles, haven’t even played the Ravens yet and you’re best player is injured more than not. So much for the Roethlisberger is elite lobbying too. How about that O-line? Thank God there’s Pitt football…Sad.

Steve said...

Couldn't run the ball? More like didn't. If anyone thinks 3.8 YPC is reason to abandon the running game then you, Arians and Tomlin all deserve losses like this. Sorry to blow your Ben is God bubble, but the reason they lost this game was they put the ball in Ben's hands and he basically $hit the bed with it. Oh, you mean I'm supposed to cringe every time he drops back to pass? Is that Steeler football?

When an offense scores only 12 points on 4 field goals, nit-picking over a special teams gaffe is the least of it's problems. I'd gladly have given up another return TD if they could have converted on even half of their trips inside the 20. This loss begins and ends with the pass happy offense that finally hit the wall and had no answers. Everything else is just BS excuse making.

Jeremy said...

Hey folks, don't forget about Santonio's wide-open dropped TD pass, Ryan Clark completely dropping an easy INT on a Cincy FG drive and James Harrison keeping another Cincy FG drive alive by punching someone in the back of the head. Without those three inexplicable and totally unforced errors, we win.

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

@Steve, great point r/e DIDN'T run the ball. Its not like we were playing from behind the whole game. Arians offensive game plan yesterday reminded of this kid I went to college with playing Madden in which nearly every offensive play was a hail mary. He is very arogant and once again, appears to be calling plays in a vacuum.

I know that I shouldn't dare suggest that a coach could ever be to blame for anything or that just makes me a yinzer homer, but Ligashesky needs to go. 3 KO returns for a TD in the last 4 games. For those keeping score at home, thats 75%. The 1-8 teams arent giving them up that frequently and you cant tell me we dont have better players available.

The defense wasn't playing takeaway yesterday, but they played well enough to win, giving up 12 points. Harrison should have been tossed, too.

Corey said...

couldn't or wouldn't run the ball?

40 pass vs. 18 run plays

bruce arians needs a good scolding from tomlin

teach jeff read to tackle? please, he's the kicker, how about teaching the rest of the special teams to tackle?

ben was awful, passes were sailing all day in perfect conditions - so why not run the friggin ball!!!

NickDawg said...

we lost bottom line because of special teams. We win with out giving up that touchdown even without scoring any TDs of our own. As far as Bens day, he had a bad one but doenst everyone in every occupation have a bad day or two at the office. If we have to rely on Skippy Reed to make tackles, then there are a lot more bigger probalems to worry about. The special teams coach needs chopped and Tomlin needs to take over this unit and fire them up. Im sick of watching TD returns by the (open) endzone where I happen to sit at on sundays.

Steve said...

Ultimately, Tomlin is the one who should be held accountable for the direction the offense takes. If he's not filtering the play selection to some degree, then what is his purpose other than to stand there looking cool with sunglasses and headphones on?

Amazing how only 6 days after the big news was they've finally found their running game, that it gets mothballed.

Steve said...

If special teams would have given up a score as many times as the Steelers choked in the Red Zone, then yes, special teams whould be the reason they lost. But as bad as special teams were, they still outplayed the offense. Take the return TD out and the game is still a tie at 12-12, so how is that the difference in losing? Bottom line is: At home, when weather isn't a factor, there's no excuse no matter who's defense your playing against to score only 12 points.

Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

To paraphrase Kenny Melvin...Steelers aren't making the playoffs

Corey said...

i think the playoffs will depend on how the steelers fare against baltimore - i don't think KC, oakland, green bay, or miami can beat the steelers...

AJ said...

After yesterday's Steelers performance... can we please get a few more Pirates posts?

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

Amen Nick Dawg... If Jeff Reed's tackling is important on kickoffs, then there are far greater issues at hand!!! That being said though, is it time for Sepulveda to take over on kickoffs?

Since we're all apparently looking for places to point our fingers, we need look no further than 3-15 on 3rd downs which leads to the 4 red zone field goals. As Dan Marino would say, "that sh*t won't get the sh*t f'n done".

taxidermist1313 said...

I say we put Sepulveda in on kickoffs. As much as I love Reed's game-winning heroics, he sucks at everything else in the game of football. Steelers need to start looking elsewhere for a kicker who keeps his head in the game and keeps the off field stuff to a minimum.

Corey said...

at this point, the steelers might as well just do an offside kick every time...then maybe they could cover the kickoffs ;)

taxidermist1313 said...

I love people acting like the Steelers aren't going to make the playoffs. They are 6-3. Bunch of spoiled babies. You think the Raiders fans would be this pissed after a loss if the loss brought them to 6-3? We are still set to make the playoffs. Look at our remaining schedule. We'll probably finish 12-4 and make the wild card, or better yet Bengals will fall apart and we win the division. Bunch of idiots praising Ben last week and now all the sudden you hate when he throws the ball. Typical yinzer idiot Steeler fans.

Nobody is doing what they should be doing, and giving credit to the Bengals defense. They have been a highly underrated unit this year.

Corey said...

taxi - what did you think of ben's performance this week?

Louis Lipps no longer accepts my phone calls... said...

AHHHHHH!!! WE LOST A GAAAAAME!!! CHANGE EVERYTHING FIRE EVERYONE OMG OMG OMG WE SUUUUUUCK!!!!

Note: We didn't play "Steeler football" last year, couldn't run to save our lives, were actually much worse at it than we are this year, and we won the Super Bowl.

We had chances yesterday, but we played poorly, the other team played better. Just because, as fans, we wear Steeler jerseys every week, it doesn't mean we're entitled to going undefeated. Shit happens.

You think Ben's going to keep his 70% completion percentage every week? You're living in a dream world.

He had a crap game, by my count his first true crap game of the year. Face it, he stunk yesterday.


Arians likes to put the game in the hands of their best player, that's smart. His crime is not being able to adjust on the fly when that plan isn't working. Didn't help that the line had their worst game of the season along with Big Ben.

If we don't win it all this year, it'll be because another team had more talent and was better than we were, not because of the stupid myth of "Steeler footbawwwwwl!!!"

The offense (yeah, the running game, when used, wasn't lighting the world on fire) was way off. The defense was passable, and special teams once again gave up 6 (you didn't think one of those wouldn't eventually bite us in the ass?)

Of those things, the only problem that I see that's chronically there every week is the special teams. The rest just had a bad game, but I do love to hear the overreaction of everyone!

And btw, Cincinatti is actually pretty damn good this year and probably treated this one like a playoff game. We didn't.

Koz said...

@LL..phonecalls

Thank you for being a sane person.

Corey said...

Louis - you hit it on the head, the steelers are running the ball better this season than last season - thus, the desire of the steeler faithful to run the friggin ball...

and btw, we've lost THREE games (33% of them)...

taxidermist1313 said...

So you are saying we should get rid of Ben? He had a bad game. So what? You are gonna get that from time to time.

And I was responding to what Steve said. Even elite QB's have off-games. Drew Brees has had some not so good games as well. Ben is an elite QB. That's all there is to it. I've been saying it since Arians came on with the Steelers, he's not a very good offensive coordinator. When all the chips are down, I'd rather not see him calling the plays. Why do you think the no huddle works so well for the Steelers?

Corey said...

taxi - nope that's not what i'm saying at all - all i'm saying is if your "elite qb" is not on point and your running game is working, maybe a more balanced attack is in order??