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hawaiiansteel
10-04-2010, 03:15 PM
Steelers defend late-game strategy

By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, October 4, 2010


http://photos.triblive.com/photos/PITT/1088983/31905592E.jpg


Running back Rashard Mendenhall said he had no qualms with the Steelers keeping the ball on the ground late in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens.

In fact, Mendenhall welcomed the challenge of trying to run out the clock with the ball in his hands.

"We knew we needed one first down, and we were going to take three runs to get there,'' said Mendenhall, who rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-14 loss to Baltimore at Heinz Field.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, they failed to get that coveted first down.

On first down at the Steelers' three-yard line with 2:40 remaining, Mendenhall ran right for two yards. Following a false start penalty against left guard Chris Kemoeatu, Mendenhall ran up the middle for 3 yards on second-and-10.

Following yet another false start penalty -- this time against backup tight end Matt Spaeth -- Mendenhall's number was called again. On third and 10 -- normally a passing down, and with the Steelers leading 14-10 -- Mendenhall ran left for no gain.

"We had the mindset to take three runs to get that first down,'' Mendenhall said. "We felt like we would be able to get 10 yards on three runs.''

Said coach Mike Tomlin: "We wanted to run time off the clock.''

Mendenhall's belief the running game could move the chains late resulted from his success during an earlier fourth-quarter drive. Mendenhall carried seven times during a 13-play, 93-yard march that ended with his 7-yard touchdown burst around right end for a 14-10 lead.

"We found some success, and we kept dialing it up,'' Mendenhall said. "The running game is hard work. You dial plays and try to get things (going). We moved the ball pretty well. Not well enough.''

Mendenhall said it became even more difficult to run the ball with the offense being penalized deep in its own territory.

"Turnovers and penalties always kill you,'' Mendenhall said.

Entering the Steelers' bye week, Mendenhall leads the team in rushing yards (411), touchdowns (four) and carries (89). He has two 100-yard rushing games, averages 4.6 yards a carry and is on pace to gain over 1,600 yards this season.

Mendenhall is even more excited about the offense's potential with the quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's return from a four-game suspension.

Said Mendenhall: "Ben's a dynamic player.''

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_702598.html

Ghost
10-04-2010, 03:58 PM
If you just look at it as "why did they run 3 times" when the Ravens were expecting it it doesn't make sense. But take out the 2 penalties and maybe they try something different on third and 5. And the D had allowed one TD all game and that's what was needed here.

I don't have an issue with running to run the clock out and to enusure you don't have a back-up who's not played great possibly get sacked for a safety and then the birds get it back only needing a FG to win. Imagine if BA calls a pass and a sack occurs....

At some point the O-line has to step it up and make some blocks and not jump. Mendy breaks through for a 1st and we're all loving the run strategy to bleed out the clock!

ikestops85
10-05-2010, 12:06 PM
If you just look at it as "why did they run 3 times" when the Ravens were expecting it it doesn't make sense. But take out the 2 penalties and maybe they try something different on third and 5. And the D had allowed one TD all game and that's what was needed here.

I don't have an issue with running to run the clock out and to enusure you don't have a back-up who's not played great possibly get sacked for a safety and then the birds get it back only needing a FG to win. Imagine if BA calls a pass and a sack occurs....

At some point the O-line has to step it up and make some blocks and not jump. Mendy breaks through for a 1st and we're all loving the run strategy to bleed out the clock!

:Agree whole-heartedly

If we throw a pass and it gets knocked down at the line of scrimmage people would be screaming about why we would try something that could stop the clock. If we don't have those penalties we could try something different on 3rd down like a sweep or even a wildcat formation but we were backed up too close to our own end zone. That is what killed that possession. I can't fault Arians for his play calling in that situation.

Oviedo
10-05-2010, 12:10 PM
If you just look at it as "why did they run 3 times" when the Ravens were expecting it it doesn't make sense. But take out the 2 penalties and maybe they try something different on third and 5. And the D had allowed one TD all game and that's what was needed here.

I don't have an issue with running to run the clock out and to enusure you don't have a back-up who's not played great possibly get sacked for a safety and then the birds get it back only needing a FG to win. Imagine if BA calls a pass and a sack occurs....

At some point the O-line has to step it up and make some blocks and not jump. Mendy breaks through for a 1st and we're all loving the run strategy to bleed out the clock!

:Agree whole-heartedly

If we throw a pass and it gets knocked down at the line of scrimmage people would be screaming about why we would try something that could stop the clock. If we don't have those penalties we could try something different on 3rd down like a sweep or even a wildcat formation but we were backed up too close to our own end zone. That is what killed that possession. I can't fault Arians for his play calling in that situation.

:Agree We didn't want Batch throwing out of the endzone. They played it smart and relied on the defense which did not get the job done.

hawaiiansteel
10-05-2010, 03:13 PM
Steelers' defense dismayed for failing to hold lead

Tuesday, October 05, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/201010/20101005steelers0_3_500.jpg

Matt Freed/Post-Gazette
Baltimore wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh celebrates after catching the winning touchdown pass against the Steelers in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Heinz Field.


It didn't seem to matter that there were 11 penalties for 88 yards, as many as they had committed in the first three games combined.

Or that the offense failed to gain 1 yard from their 3 after a tense defensive stand gave them a chance to run out the remaining 2 minutes, 40 seconds.

Or even that a holding penalty against linebacker Keyaron Fox on a punt from the end zone shortened an already short field by another 10 yards.

To members of the Steelers' defense, the only thing that mattered was that they failed to protect a late lead, something that dogged them last season. And that it happened against the Baltimore Ravens, a team they had dominated for most of the past decade at Heinz Field, only made it worse.

"We still feel we had some control," safety Troy Polamalu said. "Had we made that last stop, we'd be singing a different tune right now."

But, despite their 3-1 record, there was no singing or whistling in the locker room after a 17-14 loss Sunday to the Ravens, not when the defense gave up the decisive 18-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining.

Not when Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed all four of his pass attempts -- none of which were contested by defensive backs -- and needed only 36 seconds to score the winning points.

"There were opportunities out there, from the special teams to the offense and the defense to change the score of this game," Polamalu said.

None of which happened, which is why the Steelers are no longer among the NFL's unbeaten teams.

Even on a day when it appeared the defense would come to the rescue for one more week without Ben Roethlisberger -- getting big plays from nickel back William Gay on back-to-back passes from the 2 -- it all fell apart in a matter of 36 seconds.

"We feel like we should have won," said inside linebacker James Farrior. "We definitely had the opportunity. They made one more play than we did."

And a big one it was, not just because Ravens receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh easily beat cornerback Bryant McFadden with an out-and-up move to catch the winning 18-yard touchdown. But also because the Ravens anticipated a blitz call by defensive coordinator D!ck LeBeau and kept in additional players to pick up the extra rushers.

The max-protect worked to perfection, with running back Ray Rice picking up inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons and tight end Todd Heap coming across from the right side to pick up Polamalu. Both players were blitzing off the right side, outside the rush of linebacker James Harrison.

"It's a call that's worked for us before," Polamalu said.

This time, though, it didn't, and the defense is accepting the blame.

In four games, the Steelers are ranked No. 1 in the league in run defense and have not allowed a running back to rush for more than 42 yards. What's more, they have not allowed a run longer than 11 yards and their average allowed per carry (2.6) is the lowest in the NFL.

None of that, though, seemed to matter after the final-minute loss to the Ravens.

"Sometimes when you are riding high, you don't look at your mistakes, look at the things you do wrong, as tough as you should," said safety Ryan Clark. "We definitely need to dissect this."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10278/1092701-66.stm#ixzz11Vrhh1C7

stlrz d
10-05-2010, 11:38 PM
They played it the way they did for one reason and one reason only.

Batch is not Ben. Period.

Mister Pittsburgh
10-06-2010, 07:39 AM
OK.....sooooooo.....your main objective on offense is to simply burn the clock, try and run it for a first down on all the plays even though in the midst of this you get two penalties negating any progress you made toward that goal. Then.....you punt it to their offense.

If your objective is to burn clock.....why in the heck do you then soften your D up to the point that they can play pitch and catch the whole way down the field ALONG THE SIDELINE and let them easily step out of bounds to stop the clocki???????????

Maybe someone should of sent Lebeau the memo that they had no timeouts and our corners should of come up in press with safety help to filter the WR inside! Sorry, but I don't think Lebeau is above criticism!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfx4WQL_0Qk

Our D has blown or almost blown waaaaay too many leads the past two years. Tons of games we still won but the other team was coming back. Tennessee this year. San Diego last year. Detroit last year. FIX IT!

SteelTorch
10-06-2010, 08:18 AM
I can't blame any single unit for the outcome of this game. The offense should have made more out of opportunities, the D shouldn't have softened up at the end, and Reed should have made at least one of those field goals. This was a game that was easily winnable, but we just couldn't make plays when it mattered.

Shawn
10-06-2010, 04:08 PM
If you just look at it as "why did they run 3 times" when the Ravens were expecting it it doesn't make sense. But take out the 2 penalties and maybe they try something different on third and 5. And the D had allowed one TD all game and that's what was needed here.

I don't have an issue with running to run the clock out and to enusure you don't have a back-up who's not played great possibly get sacked for a safety and then the birds get it back only needing a FG to win. Imagine if BA calls a pass and a sack occurs....

At some point the O-line has to step it up and make some blocks and not jump. Mendy breaks through for a 1st and we're all loving the run strategy to bleed out the clock!

:Agree whole-heartedly

If we throw a pass and it gets knocked down at the line of scrimmage people would be screaming about why we would try something that could stop the clock. If we don't have those penalties we could try something different on 3rd down like a sweep or even a wildcat formation but we were backed up too close to our own end zone. That is what killed that possession. I can't fault Arians for his play calling in that situation.

:Agree We didn't want Batch throwing out of the endzone. They played it smart and relied on the defense which did not get the job done.

$$$

With Ben we pass...with Batch we run. It was the right decision and our D didn't do their job. It happens. We are 3-1 and now Ben is back. Things look good.

feltdizz
10-06-2010, 04:20 PM
OK.....sooooooo.....your main objective on offense is to simply burn the clock, try and run it for a first down on all the plays even though in the midst of this you get two penalties negating any progress you made toward that goal. Then.....you punt it to their offense.

If your objective is to burn clock.....why in the heck do you then soften your D up to the point that they can play pitch and catch the whole way down the field ALONG THE SIDELINE and let them easily step out of bounds to stop the clocki???????????

Maybe someone should of sent Lebeau the memo that they had no timeouts and our corners should of come up in press with safety help to filter the WR inside! Sorry, but I don't think Lebeau is above criticism!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfx4WQL_0Qk

Our D has blown or almost blown waaaaay too many leads the past two years. Tons of games we still won but the other team was coming back. Tennessee this year. San Diego last year. Detroit last year. FIX IT!

Miami game last year too... luckily the DB's finally decided to catch the ball.

I can't fault the D for the loss... but I'm still not convinced we have this late game D fixed from last year. I know the other team gets paid but it sure seems like we go soft at the oddest times on D.

2 pitch and catches out of bounds.. and it wasn't like they had to fight through a tackle to reach the sidelines.. they were jogging.

Our DB's are pretty sucky when the game is on the line. Troy should never EVER EVER blitz again in that situation. He is the X factor that makes QB's hesitate or second guess themselves when dropping back to pass.

MCHammer
10-06-2010, 04:42 PM
I can't blame any single unit for the outcome of this game. The offense should have made more out of opportunities, the D shouldn't have softened up at the end, and Reed should have made at least one of those field goals. This was a game that was easily winnable, but we just couldn't make plays when it mattered.

Agree completely. On that last possession, there are so many small things the team screwed up overall. Those false starts near the goaline were as determinative as the play calling. Running on third and five might have worked because Baltimore would have defended differently. If it failed, Fox might not have felt compelled to hold as we would not have been as backed up.

Then you have the defensive let down, the missed failed goals, etc. The reality is that we struggled in ST and offense in various ways throughout the game and our defense came up short in the end.

Now we get Ben back - but that won't solve all issues either. We had problems putting it in the endzone at times last year and I didn't see anything in preseason with Ben at the helm to make me think we're about to have an explosive offense. We will be better, no doubt, and I'm anxious to see how much.

Crash
10-06-2010, 05:25 PM
They were not throwing on 3rd down.

Did you not see the Jags playoff game? That was WITH Ben.

Run the ball, play defense. Stiller Football. Yoi!

cruzer8
10-06-2010, 06:04 PM
They were not throwing on 3rd down.

Did you not see the Jags playoff game? That was WITH Ben.

Run the ball, play defense. Stiller Football. Yoi!

That was a few years ago man.

This year (like last year) Ben is throwing.

ter1230_4
10-06-2010, 06:50 PM
Run the ball, play defense. Stiller Football. Yoi!

I agree, but the problem is that the defense is not doing it's job. Sunday was the third time since the beginning of the 2009 season that the Steelers have given up a game winning TD pass in the last minute of the game (at Cincy and Oak last year, and Balt this year). That's 3 times in 20 games, and since the Steelers only lost 8 out of those 20, 3 of those 8 losses came on a TD pass in the last minute. The QB's who threw those TD passes were Carson Palmer, Bruce Gradowski and Joe Flacco. Not exactly Manning, Brady and Brees are they? And I don't know if it's true, but I read somewhere else that in the 37 seasons preceding 2009 the Steelers had altogether given up a grand total of 3 game winning passes in the last minute of a game. I know we all wanted to blame the absence of Polamalu for last year's problems on D closing out games, but #43 was out there on Sunday. And as someone else pointed out earlier on this thread, even in games the Steelers have won, the D has had problems holding the lead even when ahead. Whatever the problem is, the Steelers better get it fixed because in order to win number 7 they are going to have to hold on to 4th quarter leads.

stlrz d
10-07-2010, 08:24 AM
Run the ball, play defense. Stiller Football. Yoi!

I agree, but the problem is that the defense is not doing it's job. Sunday was the third time since the beginning of the 2009 season that the Steelers have given up a game winning TD pass in the last minute of the game (at Cincy and Oak last year, and Balt this year). That's 3 times in 20 games, and since the Steelers only lost 8 out of those 20, 3 of those 8 losses came on a TD pass in the last minute. The QB's who threw those TD passes were Carson Palmer, Bruce Gradowski and Joe Flacco. Not exactly Manning, Brady and Brees are they? And I don't know if it's true, but I read somewhere else that in the 37 seasons preceding 2009 the Steelers had altogether given up a grand total of 3 game winning passes in the last minute of a game. I know we all wanted to blame the absence of Polamalu for last year's problems on D closing out games, but #43 was out there on Sunday. And as someone else pointed out earlier on this thread, even in games the Steelers have won, the D has had problems holding the lead even when ahead. Whatever the problem is, the Steelers better get it fixed because in order to win number 7 they are going to have to hold on to 4th quarter leads.

You need to take a look at the *whole* game on Sunday. What happened at the end sticks out because it was at the end, but the game was lost as a team. Every aspect from coaching on down contributed to that loss.

ter1230_4
10-07-2010, 02:22 PM
You need to take a look at the *whole* game on Sunday. What happened at the end sticks out because it was at the end, but the game was lost as a team. Every aspect from coaching on down contributed to that loss.

Of course every aspect of the performance contributed to the loss on Sunday. That's true with any loss (and every win too, because I have yet to see a team play the perfect game). But the point is that despite all of the penalties, poor coaching decisions, etc. the Steelers had a 4 point lead with less than a minute to go. They HAVE to win those games, and over the past two seasons they have managed to lose three on last minute TD passes by mediocre QB's.

stlrz d
10-07-2010, 10:44 PM
[quote="stlrz d":1h6yz2fw]You need to take a look at the *whole* game on Sunday. What happened at the end sticks out because it was at the end, but the game was lost as a team. Every aspect from coaching on down contributed to that loss.

Of course every aspect of the performance contributed to the loss on Sunday. That's true with any loss (and every win too, because I have yet to see a team play the perfect game). But the point is that despite all of the penalties, poor coaching decisions, etc. the Steelers had a 4 point lead with less than a minute to go. They HAVE to win those games, and over the past two seasons they have managed to lose three on last minute TD passes by mediocre QB's.[/quote:1h6yz2fw]

You have to look at what led up to that though. The D was gassed, took a chance at applying pressure and the pressure didn't get there. BMac got burned jumping a route that turned out to be a fake. Game over.