Big Lead Sports Bar


10 Thoughts on Steelers-Patriots

I didn't know I still had any vomit left in my system after the Pitt game on Thursday night, but alas, I was wrong. Thoughts on the nauseating Sunday-nighter against the Pats:

1. I hate to say it because it sounds like an excuse, but I think injuries have really caught up with this team. It was clearly evident on the offensive line, with Left Turnstile Jonathan Scott having a very long night protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blind side. And the offense obviously missed the presence of that sad-looking fella at the top of this post after he left with a concussion. 

Throw in Chris Kemoeatu, Aaron Smith, and Brett Keisel among the walking wounded (with Maurkice Pouncey, Heath Miller and James Harrison dinged-up but playing), and you're not even talking about the same team that was the toast of the NFL a few weeks ago. Last night's result shouldn't be catching anyone by surprise, but it's never easy to watch your team get dissected like a surgeon the way it did. 

2. That being said, the players in the lineup left a lot to be desired. The Steelers came out as flat as flat can be on Sunday, getting steamrolled by Tom Brady and Co. on the first drive and snowballing downhill from there.  It was a lousy effort. Yet somehow, they were down only 10-3 at halftime despite Roethlisberger completing just seven of 20 passes for 90 yards, and his receivers doing their part to make the passes fall incomplete. (Sidenote: that unit had a horrible night). Nonetheless, it was still a seven-point game; the Steelers were one big play away.

Alas, the Steelers allowed New England to march the ball 78 yards on 10 plays to open the second half, widening the Patriots' lead to 17-3 and making a very loud statement in the process. After Jeff Reed's latest indefensible miss, a 26-yarder, a deflated Steeler defense quickly allowed a 45-yard bomb to Brandon Tate, and moments later Brady was running into the end zone and enthusiastically spiking the ball directly in front of the Heinz Field faithful.

At halftime this was still a winnable game. By the end of the 3rd quarter, it was 23-3. The Steelers' drives that quarter? A three-and-out and a kicker missing a 26-yarder after the offense couldn't do anything with a first-and-goal situation. That was a "swing" quarter, and it swung alright. It was slammed right in the face of the Steelers. 

3. I think that performance by New England should probably shut up all the people yapping about the Steelers' great defense for quite some time. Be it injuries or motivation, this is not the same group that was winning games with very little offensive support in the first month of the season. And once again, Dick LeBeau showed he has no answer for Tom Brady, as the long-haired QB ran his career mark to 6-1 against the Steelers and 4-1 at Heinz Field, with 14 TDs and three interceptions lifetime against the Black and Gold. 

Like he usually does, Brady picked apart the Steelers with short, quick passes, getting rid of the ball before the defense has a chance to lay a hand on him. We've seen this script before. In fact, it's like a bad movie we've seen 100 times by this point. We know what's going to happen, but we watch anyway. I hate writing this, but facts are facts: Tom Brady owns the Steelers. Six out of seven is six out of seven.

4. A week after watching Peyton Hillis run over, around, and through the Pats last week, Rashard Mendenhall got only 11 carries - among them a 34-yarder in the second quarter - on the evening. 

Maybe it was Bruce Arians not having faith in a patchwork offensive line, but the 49 to 16 gap in passes to runs has to be close to a Steeler record. Speaking of the shaky offensive line, the Patriots' defense (ranked 29th in the NFL) came into the game with 13 sacks on the season. Last night alone, they had five. That's a stat that begs to be blamed on injuries to the Steeler O-Line.

5. As we've seen time and time again, you've got to hit on some big plays to win in this league. The one biggie that Brady hit - the 3rd quarter bomb to Tate - pretty much nailed the Steelers' coffin shut. It doesn't take a lot of them, but timing is crucial.

Pittsburgh sorely lacked in that department last night, and the defense didn't help there, either. Anyone else waiting for a momentum-changing turnover that never arrived?

Here's a good stat that should tell you the Steelers weren't going to win this game: their longest play of the night (38 yards) was on a pass-interference call. Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace connected just once in the first half, and most of the 136 yards that #17 gained came in fourth-quarter garbage time. 

6.  Steeler special teams did little to aid in the winning effort as well. We've already mentioned Reed's 26-yard miss, and as usual, Antwaan Randle-El threw up his beloved fair catch hand again, officially giving him more FCs (13) than actual returns (11) on the season. Only three teams in the entire NFL have more fair catches than the Steelers, who rank 27th in the league in punt returns.

7. Even when the Steelers were scoring in garbage time last night, they still couldn't stop New England. Yes, the Steelers did score 23 points in the fourth, and that would have been enough to win the game...had they not allowed 16 more to New England.

8.  It's time for our weekly a look around the AFC North. Hmm, who said this last week?

This week, the Ravens travel to Atlanta on Thursday night, Cleveland hosts the Jets, and Cincinnati goes for 2-7 as they travel to Indy. Sounds like three potential losses to me. 

Well, those were all losses, and the Steelers failed to capitalize in helping the AFCN to a Big East-like 0-4 record this weekend. Not well done, fellas. 

This week, Baltimore goes on the road to Carolina, which should be an automatic W that raises their record to 7-3. Cleveland (3-6) is headed to Jacksonville (5-4), and the Bengals (2-7 and losers of six straight) host streaking Buffalo (1-8). Must be Rebound Week for the division with the Bills and Panthers on the slate.

9. Your Pittsburgh Steelers get the fascinating Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field in a rematch of one of the Steelers' classic defensive meltdowns of 2009. 

Nursing a 10-6 lead after three, the Steelers allowed 21 points to the Bruce Gradkowski-led Raider offense in the fourth quarter, including an 11-yard touchdown to Louis Murphy with nine second left in the game. The Steelers, then 6-5 and desperate for a win, dropped a home game to the 3-8 Raiders. Gradkowski threw for 308 yards and 3 TDs, with a rating of 121.8. Gotta love that Steeler D.

Let's hope they remember that embarrassment, as well as the one on Sunday night, as they prepare for this game.

10. It's Sad Trombone time!

As you know, the Sad Trombone goes to someone who deserves no sympathy and in turn gets mocked by internet tough guys such as myself.

This week's Sad Trombone goes to the City of Pittsburgh's football teams

We talk a lot of trash, we get our feelings hurt when our teams don't get the proper level of respect in our eyes, and when the bell rang twice this week, our teams both got punched right between the eyes on prime-time, national TV. 

So to Pitt and to the Steelers, it pains me to award you the well-deserved Sad Trombone for two uninspired efforts. You're better than that.

Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc):


BurressWithButterflywings said...

So many negatives in this game it would take all day to list.

I have a few questions:

What happened to our pass rush?

Does it seem that since the "crackdown", our opponents are more physical and outhitting us?

Why does William Gay exist?

How does LeBeau not have a better adjustment for this type of opponent?

Who DOESN'T want to punch Tom Brady right in his arrogant, smug face? I get it that the guy is awesome, but he NEVER gets touched. He just sits back there and plays soft toss.

Didn't the NFL outlaw Helmet to Helmet hits on defenseless receivers after the Frankenstein-esque pitchfork and torch Witch Hunt against James Harrison in which every trangression his entire life was magnified 100x?

Does this team have a realistic shot of making it out of the regular season with what we have right now?

okel dokel said...

The game plan on both sides of the ball was pathetic.

Come on Dick you have seen this all before and you put the same lame ass zone defense out there again and again. Gay needs to go and what the hell has happened to Troy?

The offensive line is banged up and what is our answer? The same long developing plays that get Ben sacked when the line is healthy. Evidently we cannot do screen plays. Every time we do we lose yardage.

And once again thanks Skippy! Good luck getting paid in the off season you festering dick. You suck! I was hoping we would not bring your whiny ass back but we did.

The worst part to me was they looked like they mailed it in. Douche Brady is dancing for joy and nothing is done...nothing.

I do not have a great deal of confidence in this team for the rest of the year.

*Ben looks awful. His timing issues aren't all the line's fault.
*The defense is looking old, beat up and evidently we have no better nickle option than Bill Gay
*Twaan is washed up and should be shown the door soon. There has got to be a better option.

djmdthedoc said...

Ugly game all around.

The offense really missed Ward. Clutch catches in the redzone aside, clearly blocking by the remaining wrs is/was lacking.

The lack of pressure by the defense on opposing QBs the last few games is really disconcerting.

BURGH08 said...

Agree with all points, so I would just be repeating them. Especially wanting to punch Tom Brady, but dude backed it up.

It's seems like this year all teams, even the ones deemed the better ones are having 'bad losses'. Not excusing the performance of course.

If anyone can stand listening to 'The Fan' for more than a half hour, you should listen to Jeff Reed's comments. The contract sitaution, media scorn, and fan perception of him is so in his head it's not funny.

Unknown said...

I don't understand how we lost that game. We did our patented off-tackle right play every first down.

Koz said...

Can someone link to Jeff Reed's comments?

I thought that the Pats were pretenders, but maybe now the Steelers are?

All hope is not lost though. Look at the egg the Giants laid last night! There aren't really any dominant teams in the NFL this season, so who knows what will still happen. After last year with the Colts and Saints running undefeated deep into the season (and several recent years with a clear dominant team), this one is really up for grabs.

Hopefully Ward bounces back, but that's now 5 of 9 games for him with less than 20 yards receiving. Yikes.

Unknown said...

The worst part of the whole debacle was Emmanuel Sanders dancing after a TD down by 14 points in the fourth quarter. Very Bengal like.

JeremyT said...

Four plays summed this one up for me:

Our left tackle got an illegal procedure call for LINING UP IN THE BACKFIELD, our kicker kicked THE GROUND instead of the ball on a FG attempt and we dropped two uncontested TD passes in the end zone in a 3-play span.

Unknown said...

"Maybe it was Bruce Arians"...

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Sit Randle El, dress Brown again. He and Sanders have speed and potential.

Wow, Tom Brady sure was loving rubbing it in. He was kicking our asses and he knew it and he let everyone else know it.

I just had awful flashbacks to just about every other time we played that guy this decade. NOBODY owns the Steelers like Brady, NOBODY. He sets foot on the field, and a collapse is imminent.

Patriots success: It's not Bellichick, it's Brady. Great QBs make all coaches look like geniuses.

That said, we were set up for this by the Pats getting stomped in Cleveland the week before. They weren't going to play two terrible games in a row.

The Steelers displayed the most proficient garbage time offense in history last night. That was an impressive display of racking up meaningless stats we saw....

Lack of pass rush is probably due to not having Keisel and Smith. I think Ziggy Hood has talent and could be a suitable replacement, but I don't have much faith in Nick Eason on the other side.

Also, Brady gets rid of the ball very quickly. The Patriots style of offense is tailored perfectly to play against the Steeler defense's perennial weakness: the short-to-intermediate pass.

Lastly, there was something VERY demoralizing about the way Hines Ward's catch streak was broken. Against the Patriots, because of an injury, on a borderline helmet-to-helmet hit, and off of a challenge flag that was thrown while Hines didn't know what country he was in that took away the reception.

That really added insult to injury.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

1. A lot was said about starting a new LT & LG... but did anyone play a worse game than Trai Essex?

2. What can you say about dropping 3 passes in the endzone, missing a 26 yd fg, and allowing the other offense all day on every play to do whatever they pleased? Just a horrible game. At least it was against a good opponent?

What happened to the pass rush: Harrison wasn't 100% and we hardly ever sent more than 4 people after the golden boy.

The last two weeks Gay has REALLY REALLY been bad. (And ALL of last season). That being said, the first Gronk TD was a perfectly thrown ball and a nice catch. I don't put that one on Gay. However, is Keenan Ivory Lewis really not better than this guy?

Good point by okel... this team used to be such a great screen team. Why do we not even attempt them anymore? I'm not talking bubble screens. Those are gaaabage.

@ Kevin - Thank you! I'm glad someone brought that up! Maybe he could go troy edwards style and reveal a superman shirt after a garbage time TD? (was that Troy? i forget now)

NE Patriots - 23-2 in last 25 games following a loss. Hate them all you want, but THAT'S impressive as hell!

Way to quote Cris Collinsworth LLimHb... i wanted to punch him in the face through the TV last night when he said that! To be fair, i usually want to punch Collinsworth in the face through the TV though.

okel dokel said...

@HomeRun - I agree about Essex. He was really bad.

More fodder for us anti-Skippys Steeler Depot

Unknown said...

Im a lot repeating what has already been said but I think its time to admit it. The Steeler D is just not that good. Maybe its injuries but it looked to me like the problems were structural not one of personnel.

I couldn't see the whole field but I want to know why a Patsie receiver catches an 8 yard ball and a Steeler defender is playing 5-8 yards off on him. HUH??? I can see not wanting to get burned by the deep ball but the D was absolutely torched by the 5-8 yd passes, 10 5yd passes are more devastating that 1 50yd pass to me.

I know they wanted to keep all the action in front of them then make a play on the ball or the receiver. And it worked, except for the part about making a play on the ball or the receiver.

The Steeler O was only marginally more watchable. And again I want to know why the Steeler Receivers were grappling for every catch, and the Patsie's receivers had the 5 yard cushion.

Steelers were plain out-coached, out-game planned, out-executed. I dont think the Patsies had better people on the field, its just that their people knew what to do and acted like they gave a d@mn. Mike, Bruce, & Dick were owned by the Boston team. No ifs ands or buts.

JW said...

Defense really misses Smith and even Kiesel. The "patented" LBs are not nearly the pass rushers they are said to be without those linemen tying up bodies to open rush lanes. I almost understand and accept Coach Lebeau's reluctance to end more than 3 or 4 because it seemed pointless anyway. Unfortunately, our secondary outside of Ike has severe coverage issues, so pick your poison.

Dallas Mike said...

Mondesi - Great comments and sad trombone honesty

@ Kevin - Could not have said it better myself. Totally bush league!

* For the fun of it, somebody needs to put together a William Gay lowlight video montage

* Is it me or has Jeff Reed taken on the build of a pear-shaped librarian?

* Most people don't appreciate how valuable Aaron Smith is to the Steelers

* Brady does not get sacked because 1) he is great passer, 2) he understands matchups and defenses, 3) he gives up on plays and gets rid of the ball before taking terrible sacks, and 4) the Pats front office understands the importance of a cohesive O-line

* Also, give the Patriots credit for outscheming Dick Lebeau. They exploited the weaknesses in the Steelers defense that most NFL clubs are not able to exploit. They executed with the utmost precision and it was impressive to watch.

* I don't know if anyone watched the Jets-Pats game from earlier in the year. Pats attempted a similar formula to beat the Jets, but Rex Ryan made some great adjustments and overwhelmed the Patriots offense in the 2nd half. Steelers simply do not have the secondary to attempt the same strategy.

tola'at sfarim said...

to be fair intentional grounding is basically a sack

BurressWithButterflywings said...

We were absolutely outcoached.And outplayed.

Brady taking that intentional grounding proved to me he is a quarterback, not a football player, FWIW.

So how many others played the role of masochist and stayed up to watch the entire game? I wasn't going to turn my back on the Steelers, no matter how bad it was, but it was painful to watch us get out asses kicked up and down the field like that.

okel dokel said...

@Burress - I watched it all. started by listening to the Westwood One feed of the game where they announced Aaron Smith was starting

Yinzer Girl said...

There wasn't one Steeler who had a good game. I agree that the injuries are really getting to this team. Granted, that's not an excuse. It was very apparent that the team REALLY missed Hines, not only for his receiving skills, but also for his blocking skills.

Ben did not play well, but his receivers certainly didn't help him out any.

I agree El shouldn't be out there on punts very much. I did understand the decision to go with him on the punt return in the middle-end of the 3rd quarter. Definitely playing it safe on that one to make sure they didn't turn over the ball there and give the Patriots and even bigger lead. Other than that, there is no reason to have him back there ever.

The lopsided playcalling was troubling, but it was also skewed--when you're losing by 3 TDs with time ticking away, you can't be running the ball. It would've still been an unbalanced offensive attack for sure, but the numbers wouldn't have been so striking.

I agree that Troy has not been playing like Troy at all this year. Not sure what's going there, but hopefully he snaps out of it soon. Also, Ryan Clark was pretty invisible last night.

Glad we're working out kickers tomorrow. I don't know if there's anyone out there that will be better and Skippy may still keep his job, but I like that he's basically being told "F**k you" by the Steelers. I think his post-game comments probably had something to do with that.

I don't have that big of a problem with Sanders celebrating that touchdown. Probably not a great idea when down so late at Heinz Field, but he's a rookie and that was his first NFL TD. He's allowed to celebrate, that's a huge moment for him and it just happened to come in garbage time of a losing effort.

I agree with whoever made the point above that maybe we should be giving Keenan Lewis a look. We drafted for some reason, it's his second year and Willie Gay is clearly not a short-term or long-term solution.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but thank god for Ike Taylor this year. He is definitely playing like this is a contract year. He's done a pretty good job this year, and looks like a superstar compared to the other CBs.

Essex played terribly last night. Wouldn't be surprised if they gave Legursky another shot there. Tomlin was pleased with his play earlier in the year when Trai was hurt.

Also, I know they probably won't do this, but they need to consider moving Flozell to Ben's blind side. Jonathan Scott really struggled last night. This patchwork O-Line is giving me nightmares, I can't imagine what Ben must be experiencing.

Hey, it's only one game. If they lose to the Raiders and Bills, then I'll be truly concerned. Still 6-3, which we all would've taken at the beginning of September. And to the people saying we should fire Tomlin after last night's game--that's funny, because after week 4, his name was being mentioned as possible coach of the year. Even Chuck Noll lost some big games very badly.

Steve said...

This isn't hockey, or baseball. One game -- especially one like that -- is huge in determining how a season will play out. That game was more than just a loss, it completely summarized what this team is really about more than any win this season has.

I've seen most of all Noll's games and outside of those years where the talent simply wasn't there, I don't think I ever saw one of his better teams $hit the bed like that. Now, unless your saying this team simply isn't any good, you may be right.

I honestly don't know what Tomlin brings to the position. He's not an x's and o's coach (a clipboard would probably burn his hands) and other than being good for an occasional pat on the back and oddball quote, I think's easily replaceable with an honest to goodness coach who "coaches" instead of one who is only as good as his assistants and coordinators allow him to be. I've been saying fire Tomlin since last season too, so...

Yinzer Girl said...


I'm aware that this isn't hockey or baseball and I'm aware exactly what even one big loss in the NFL can mean to a team's season. I said it was only one game precisely because of all the people like yourself who will use this as an excuse to bitch about anything and everything the Steelers do.

How does this loss summarize what this team is really about? Brady has their number, always has. LeBeau and Tomlin didn't adjust the defensive scheme accordingly. Both the O-Line and D-Line have major injury problems. Our best receiver went down in the 1st quarter. 2 of our running backs suffered concussions the week before. Harrison was playing dinged up. Timmons and Troy both got dinged up during the game. I know the "standard is the standard" in Tomlin's words and the expectation level doesn't change with the injuries, but the level of play has obviously declined as a result of such injuries.

3 weeks ago, this was being called one of the best defenses in Steelers history and being mentioned in the same breath as the '76 and '08 defenses. Now they're the worst ever and the Steelers should just start playing for draft picks now.

If you've been saying fire Tomlin since last year, then you sound like even more of an idiot. It wasn't coaching that let them down last year. It was a dropped TD pass by Sweed, 2 missed FGs by Reed, Joe Burnett dropped interception and some serious defensive meltdowns. He's 2 years removed from winning a Super Bowl (I know it was with Cowher's players--I'm assuming that will be your retort), he hasn't had a losing record yet and he managed to motivate this team when people were predicting 1-3 or 0-4 without Ben. And I don't know if you got the memo, but the Steelers ARE STILL 6-3. And they've beat some decent teams and have lost only to 3 almost certain playoff teams. And they're only 32 seconds away from being 7-2. I know everyone in this town is an expert, but I trust the Rooneys instinct when picking a coach over naysayers who just want someone/something else to bitch about every Monday morning.