OLD. SLOW. DONE.
Monday, September 10, 2012
by Mark Madden
Yinz hate Ben. I get it. Pick six, game over, tasteless jokes, etc. PREDICTABLE.
Ben Roethlisberger needed to come through late in the fourth quarter when the game was up for grabs. He didn’t. He knows it, and is no less disappointed than you.
But that’s one instance. Ben’s third-down precision was the offense’s saving grace. Ben's stats on third down were HUGE: 11/15 with two TDs and a QB rating of 139.4.
The Steelers’ defense had no saving grace. OLD. SLOW. DONE. Denver had THREE CONSECUTIVE 80-YARD TOUCHDOWN DRIVES.
Things started OK. The D had two sacks and a fumble recovery in the first quarter.
Once Denver went to the no-huddle, Peyton Manning made the Saran Wrap Curtain look ancient, tired and clueless. Dick LeBeau’s platoon prides itself on not giving up big plays. Congratulations. You shaved nine yards off Demaryius Thomas’ run to the house. He only went 71 yards, as opposed to 80 yards in last year’s playoff loss.
After that, Troy Polamalu played a mile or so off the line. NON-FACTOR.
It’s just one game, obviously. Denver’s a tough place to play and Manning is a tough quarterback to beat. If he’s lost anything, it’s hard to tell.
But despite the mostly close nature of last night’s loss, and despite injuries and illness hurting their chances, something felt wrong about the Steelers.
The offense was predictable: The Steelers ran on their first seven first- or second-down plays and passed on their first three third-down plays. Unless desperation necessitated, Roethlisberger primarily managed the game a la Mike Tomczak.
The Steelers drove 64 yards in 16 plays to open the second half, using a Shaun Suisham field goal to extend their lead to 13-7. The Broncos immediately went 80 yards in two plays, Thomas’ 71-yard catch-and-run providing a 14-13 edge.
The Steelers had the ball for 8:55, the Broncos 36 seconds. The Steelers got three points, the Broncos seven.
The Steelers played old-time, grind-it-out football. The Broncos, their play-calling firmly rooted in the present, MADE PLAYS. But Denver out-rushed Pittsburgh anyway. The Steelers had the ball for 35:05. But the Steelers' defense still looked exhausted. When the Broncos got their first possession of the second half, Denver's O and Pittsburgh's D (save one kneel-down) had been off the field for ALMOST AN HOUR.
Boom: Two plays, 80 yards, touchdown. At least chasing Thomas from behind was a familiar situation. Hey, Demaryius, wait for ME-E-E-E-E!
The New York Jets come to town next Sunday having scored 48 points on Buffalo, a team thought by many to be playoff-caliber. Suddenly, that’s a BIG TEST.
James Harrison and Ryan Clark didn’t play. Marcus Gilbert and Ramon Foster went down before halftime. That’s not supposed to matter. The standard is the standard.
fat. Dumb. Boring.
How strange...I typed that in all caps, but it comes out like that...
It really loses the intended effect...