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Thread: Miscues, missteps have Steelers reeling

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    Miscues, missteps have Steelers reeling


    Miscues, missteps have Steelers reeling

    PITTSBURGH (AP) - Charlie Batch paused last week when he was asked if he could make the same throws he did a decade ago.
    "No!'' the soon-to-be 38-year-old Steelers backup quarterback said before bursting into laughter.
    Turns out, he was right.
    Passes fluttering in the late fall wind, Batch tossed three interceptions - two in the fourth quarter - in Sunday's comically bad 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh turned it over eight times, committed nine penalties and scored two measly touchdowns against a team it had beaten in 16 of the last 17 meetings.
    "I put the game on my shoulders to try and go down and put my team in the end zone and I wasn't able to do that,'' Batch said.
    The loss is hardly on Batch's shoulders - not when the Steelers (6-5) fumbled the ball away five times - but with the Browns daring Batch to beat them with his arm by stacking the line of scrimmage to shut down the running game, Batch's ineffectiveness showcased just how ramshackle the Steelers can look without injured starter Ben Roethlisberger under center.
    It's uncertain if Roethlisberger's sprained right (throwing) shoulder will be ready to go next Sunday at rival Baltimore (9-2). What is certain? The Steelers - arguably the hottest team in the league after a road victory over the New York Giants three weeks ago - have run out of any wiggle room if they want to make the playoffs.
    The Steelers are tied with Cincinnati for the AFC's second wild card spot with five weeks remaining in the regular season. Pittsburgh's remaining schedule includes a trip to Dallas and visits from San Diego and the Bengals in addition to Sunday's journey to Baltimore, where the Steelers have won just twice in their last nine visits.
    "It leaves us in a little bit of a hole,'' linebacker James Harrison said.
    One that could be particularly difficult to crawl out of if Roethlisberger doesn't return soon. The Steelers have scored just two offensive touchdowns in the 10-plus quarters since he went down in the third quarter of a 16-13 overtime win against the Chiefs on Nov. 12.
    Batch and fellow backup Byron Leftwich - out indefinitely with fractured ribs - have been rusty and the three-pronged rushing attack has gone nowhere. Coach Mike Tomlin insists there's no need to pick a feature back among Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, saying he has confidence in all three.
    That confidence is all but gone after the trio managed 15 carries for 22 yards and three fumbles against the Browns.
    "The running backs, we didn't do well, and we put (Batch) in bad situations,'' Dwyer said. "We put our defense in bad situations. The running game was supposed to help Charlie out. We let him down.''
    Injuries to right tackle Mike Adams and left guard Willie Colon didn't help matters, though the patchwork line had been one of the team's most pleasant surprises. Pittsburgh had a back top 100 yards three times during a four-game winning streak that helped the Steelers rebound from a 2-3 start, finding success with whomever they put out there.
    Now, whomever they put out there can't hold onto the ball.
    "We are going to play people that can secure the football, but after everybody does it, obviously there aren't very many choices left,'' Tomlin said.
    And his team has no choice but to shore things up - quickly - if it wants to play into January, though at this point Pittsburgh would settle for playing something resembling "Steeler football.''
    "I think everybody should have a resolve about themselves to play better and to get better at their craft,'' tight end Heath Miller said. "I think sometimes it's harder to do when you win a few games; you play well, it's easy to overlook some things. I don't see how we can overlook what we need to do to get better at this point.''
    The defense included, even if it did everything it could to keep the Steelers in it. Cleveland's two touchdown drives totaled just 41 yards in length thanks to turnovers that gave the Browns excellent field position.
    Pittsburgh sacked Brandon Weeden four times, returned an interception for a score and held Cleveland to just 238 yards.
    Still, it wasn't enough to prevent the Steelers from enduring their first two-game losing streak in three years.
    "We have to make plays,'' nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "You can sit here and say `We turned the ball over this many times,' but we get opportunities to get turnovers we have to do that too and give our team the short field sometimes. You can't put it all on one side of the ball. It's everybody. Everybody could have done a little bit more to win.''
    NOTES: The Steelers activated rookie LG David DeCastro from the injured reserve/return list. DeCastro, the team's first-round pick in the draft, hasn't played since injuring his right knee in a preseason win over Buffalo in August ... The team placed RT Marcus Gilbert on injured reserve. Gilbert missed the last six games with ligament damage in his right ankle ... The Steelers also released WR David Gilreath and promoted OL John Malecki to the active roster.

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    QB plan jeopardizes season


    Vinnie Iyer

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have backed themselves into a corner with their backup quarterback situation. A week after second-stringer Byron Leftwich was battered and struggled as Ben Roethlisberger's replacement in a 13-10 loss to AFC North archrival Baltimore, Charlie Batch fared worse in Sunday's much more maddening 20-14 division loss at Cleveland.

    The 37-year-old Batch, pressed into duty because Leftwich (ribs) joined Roethlisberger (ribs, shoulder) on the shelf, threw three interceptions as part of his 20-for-34, 199-yard passing day. It was coupled with the Steelers' running backs losing five fumbles and rushing for a dismal 49 yards against a vulnerable Browns defense.

    What the Steelers quickly learned (again) in two games without Big Ben is how much he's missed. It should make them appreciate—given their season-long struggles to find a consistent rushing attack, get steady offensive line play and manage a pileup of defensive injuries—just how many things Roethlisberger's arm and athleticism help them overcome.

    There are few teams in the NFL that wouldn't suffer a huge dropoff when they must fill in for their franchise quarterback. The Steelers also were put in the unusual situation of needing to drop two notches on their depth chart. But there's no sympathy for how they were ill-prepared for the possibility of needing to survive a few games without Roethlisberger. With his recent history of taking a beating, it's surprising they didn't have better insurance for him.

    The Steelers are 6-5 and Roethlisberger can't come back soon enough—they're even holding out hope he can play in the rematch against the Ravens on Sunday. That's because it's clear they can't win a game without him, no matter how much help they get from their current supporting cast.

    How did they get in this situation? First, they didn't do what a lot of perennial contending teams with elite quarterbacks do, and second, they didn't have an option behind Roethlisberger that could have some success with similar assets.

    The Packers have made it a habit of drafting quarterbacks to develop as backups, and had the league's best No. 2 in Matt Flynn a season ago. Ryan Mallett and Chase Daniel, behind Tom Brady in New England and Drew Brees in New Orleans, respectively, are unproven understudies, but they each have the luxury of learning behind a legend in a diverse, quarterback-friendly offense.

    In general, if you have a green rookie or second-year player as a starter, it's good to have a quarterback with starting experience behind him. See Chad Henne, who stepped in well for Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville. Or see Matt Hasselbeck, who helped nicely in Tennessee when Jake Locker couldn't play earlier in the season. Shaun Hill has proved his worth multiple times behind Matthew Stafford in Detroit.

    If you have a veteran such as Roethlisberger, it's better to have a raw yet promising younger to which to turn. See Colin Kaepernick, who played well enough to usurp Alex Smith in San Francisco.

    It's one thing if you know your starter is durable, like Peyton Manning (before last season) and Eli Manning, the reigning QB iron man. You can get away with a Jim Sorgi or David Carr there. But for someone who plays with such fearlessness as Roethlisberger, it's critical to have a fallback a team would feel comfortable using.

    Leftwich and Batch deserve respect as aging passers who have been able to hang around, but they were more like emergency quarterbacks for the Steelers. A more reasonable solution would have been going after recently signed Brian Hoyer a lot earlier than last week. Hoyer would have been an ideal pickup when the Patriots released him earlier in the year, given he was used to absorbing behind a multiple Super Bowl winner in Brady.

    Leftwich and Batch were seen as veteran caretakers, who could keep the Steelers winning assuming their running game and defense could come through. The running game didn't help either Steelers backup, but the defense did its big part, and it still wasn't enough. Last week, Dick LeBeau's group marched on without Troy Polamalu, but kept the Ravens from scoring an offensive touchdown. On Sunday, that same group, despite the offense giving the ball away eight times, held the Browns to only 238 total yards, two touchdowns and two field goals. In Cleveland, the defense even provided a touchdown and an early lead with which to work on linebacker Lawrence Timmons' 53-yard interception return.

    Leftwich and Batch are supposed to help with their experience, but their effectiveness at this late stage of their careers just isn't there. With "Roethlisberger Light" style quarterbacks coming out of college left and right, it's silly the Steelers hadn't stashed one during the past four drafts. The closest was 2008 fourth-rounder Dennis Dixon, who started a game when both Roethlisberger and Batch were out against the Ravens in 2009. For a team that does so well to stockpile through the draft, not taking a quarterback through 35 picks since 2009 is surprising.

    Maybe Roethlisberger will tough it out and get them back on the AFC playoff track this season before they run out of time. But what happened in the past two games should be a stark reminder that their backup plans haven't been best-laid. Roethlisberger isn't getting any younger or healthier, so they must put forth a better plan for next season.

    Molon labe

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell

    American metal pimped by asiansteel
    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you 1. Jesus Christ, 2.The American G.I., One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

  3. #3

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    Eight Steelers turnovers more than enough


    By ESPN Stats & Information | Nov 26, 2012 10:39 PM

    David Richard/US Presswire
    The Cleveland Browns were always around the ball on Sunday.
    How costly were those eight turnovers by the Pittsburgh Steelers in that shocking loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday?

    Here are eight notes to know on the Steelers misfortunes, one for each of the eight miscues they committed.

    1-- The Steelers had more possessions that ended with turnovers ( than they had possessions that ended in other ways (7).

    2--The eight turnovers committed by the Steelers on Sunday combined to cost Pittsburgh 20.5 “expected points” in a game decided by six.

    When we say expected points, we’re basing it on historical data referring to how much the average team would have scored if given the same situations of field position, down, distance, and time remaining.

    The five lost fumbles alone cost the Steelers 12.8 expected points.

    3-- The overall play of the Steelers offense cost Pittsburgh 23.8 expected points on Sunday, the worst performance by the Steelers offense since the start of 2008.

    4-- Overall, the Steelers lost 75.9 percentage points in win probability with their eight turnovers.

    5-- The last time the Steelers had at least seven turnovers in a game against the Browns was September 10, 1989, when they had eight. Cleveland won that game 51-0 at Three Rivers Stadium.

    6-- Since 1993, six teams have committed eight turnovers in a game. Those teams are 0-6, and the five teams before the Steelers lost by an average of 18.2 points.

    7-- Since 1940, a team has been -7 in turnover differential 75 times, Those teams are 3-72 in those 75 games. The Steelers were lucky to keep it close. Only 10 of those 75 were decided by six points or less.

    8--In the 347 instances since 1993 in which a team’s quarterback has thrown at least three interceptions and no touchdowns, those teams are 23-323-1. That’s a .067 winning percentage

    Molon labe

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell

    American metal pimped by asiansteel
    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you 1. Jesus Christ, 2.The American G.I., One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.


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