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Steelers lose in Dixon’s debut

November 30, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

The Steelers suffered their third consecutive loss last night, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 20-17.

Prior to the game, most of the comments that I received from Steelers fans expressed fear.  Most thought that with Dennis Dixon making his first NFL start, the Steelers had no hope of beating an opponent like the Baltimore Ravens.  In fact, I can’t ever remember seeing such a prevalant sense of hopelessness among Steeler Nation.

As it turns out, Dixon played much better than most expected.  He was almost flawless in the first half, going 8-10 for 87 yards, with one TD and no interceptions.  His passer rating at the end of the first half was 136.2.

Steelers QB Dennis Dixon

Steelers QB Dennis Dixon

In the second half, things didn’t go quite so well for Dixon.  The Ravens came out after half-time seemingly intent on flustering the young quarterback.  They started out with an array of blitzes that had Dixon rushing passes.  Then they transitioned into more of a zone defense that made it hard for Dixon to find open receivers.  Dixon ended up going 4-16 after the half.

But it wasn’t Dixon who was most responsible for the Steelers loss.  No, that distinction goes to the defense……and the coaches.

The vaunted Steelers defense seemed to completely forget how to tackle.  On multiple occasions, a Baltimore runner seemed ready to be tackled by a Steelers defender, only to see the defender completely miss the tackle.  William Gay, Ryan Clark, and James Farrior had some very noticeable missed tackles.

Another missed tackle

Another missed tackle

As the season progresses, I’m noticing that William Gay is emerging as the weak link on the Steelers defense.  Teams even seem to be targeting him now.  He’s not a sure tackler, and he is very vulnerable to double moves when in coverage.  Whenever the Steelers get beat for long pass plays, Gay and Ryan Clark always seem to be the defenders who are in the area.  Clark is the free safety, so I expect him to be in the area.  But Gay’s presence is a too common occurrence.

The Steelers’ special teams also turned in a poor performance.  But that has been a consistent theme this season, so it’s almost not worth mentioning.  Almost.

But the real culpability in the loss probably belongs to the Steelers’ coaches.  I don’t consider myself to be a mind reader, yet I was able to predict almost every play that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called.  If I was able to predict his calls, I’m sure the Ravens were able to do so as well.

Run, run, pass.  Run, run, pass.  Sound familiar?

Despite Dennis Dixon’s mobility, they seldom utilized it.  When they did, he threw for a touchdown, ran for a touchdown, and had a 31 yard run called back due to holding.  So why didn’t they put him in motion more often?  I understand that that they may not have wanted to subject Dixon to too many hits, since his backup had just been signed to the practice squad last week.  Nevertheless, there are “safe” ways to put a quarterback in motion.

They also didn’t seem to be interested in involving Mewelde Moore in the passing game, despite the fact that dumping the ball to the running back is probably the best safety valve that they could have provided to a young quarterback.  But the Steelers dumped the ball to Moore a grand total of 0 times.  That’s right, zero.  In fact, they only threw to their running backs twice during the entire game.   Moreover, the team seemed to be more interested in throwing the long pass than in attempting safer short passes.

I am not one of those people who is constantly calling for offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to be fired.  But I was very disappointed in his play calling in this game.

So the Steelers have dug themselves even deeper in the hole when it comes to the playoffs.  They are not mathematically eliminated, but things get tougher with each loss.

Ordinarily, I’d take great solace in the fact that the Steelers next two opponents are the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns.  But the way the Steelers have played lately, I’m not sure those are guaranteed wins.  In fact, if the Kansas City Chiefs game is any indication, we might actually lose one of those games.

Hopefully, some of the injured players like Troy Polamalu and Big Ben will be available to play soon.  But even with them, something tells me that the remainder of the season is going to be an emotional roller coaster for Steelers fans.


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9 Comments to “Steelers lose in Dixon’s debut”

  1. Steeler Chick says:

    C’mon, call for Arians’ firing! And who’s leading the defense anyway? Surely the genius LeBeau isn’t asking more of the players than they can deliver. IMHO, this season is reflective of Tomlin’s first “I’M THE BOSS” season.

  2. My Heart is breaking!!! :-( I can’t believe one guy (awsome guy) being out can ruin my defence!! They SUCK….The Special teams SUCK to!!! Come on SUPER BOWL CHAMPS!????!!!

  3. donald,

    I’m pleased to see that we agree again. If I screamed it once it was a hundred times, “short passes!!!”

    I want to go through my list of what I see and think but I just don’t care anymore this season. Obviously Bruce Arians does not know how to game plan. It’s that simple!

    I will say this however. I believe someone on here said last week after KC loss and Ben being knocked out again that his health is a great concern. Oh, that was me!

    Ben is not, as you say, taking the hits and getting up again and again. This concussion lingering into the following week shows what I have been saying is true. He is getting concussions easier each time he gets one and they are now beginning to last longer.

    People better wake up, and they won’t, Ben has a couple more years before he will be medically forced out of the game like Aikman and Young.

    The last comment from me for the next several weeks, because I really have just given up on them this year and I know they won’t change anything because they never do, is the steelers are on a decline that will last a few years. No playoffs this year guys.

    The Titans are one game behind us!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh, Steeler Chick, I agree 100%. I said 3 years ago that we would know what kind of coach Tomlin is after about 4 years because he has been playing with Cowher’s team and coor.’s

    Barry Switzer won a SB with Jimmy Johnson’s team too.

  4. I’m Sorry,

    I have one more comment after reading Tomlin’s post-game remarks.

    I have had enough of him saying “they made the plays, we came up short.” Please

    I am no longer in Tomlin’s corner. He has done nothing with special teams except let them continue to allow big returns for scores. Hey, and last night no TDs but the special teams killed us again allowing big yardage! I know if I performed my job like the special teams coach of steelers does I would already be in a cheese line.

    And if Tomlin is going to allow Bruce Arians continue to put together idiotic game plans like he has does for some time now he needs to get a new special teams coach because we are content to spot teams points and yards every week.

    He needs to stop trying to coin clever coach-phrases and make meaningful changes.

  5. Steeler Chick,
    Nope, I’m not going to call for his firing. Not yet, at least. ;-)

  6. Tony,
    I’m not going to let you give up on this team. Not yet. They are still in the race. They can make the playoffs. But they won’t do it without Steeler Nation standing behind them. So I’m not going to let you quit on them.

    Sure, there have been some rough patches this season. But so what? Are you just going to give up being a Steelers fan?

    Think about what it must be like to be a Browns fan. Or a Raiders fan. Those guys can go decades without a winning season and their fans stand by them. But the Steelers lose a few games (after winning the previous Super Bowl), and you’re ready to give up on them.

    Not good, my friend. Not good.

  7. Pittsburgh, Pa
    December 1, 2009 2:23 PM ET

    Amid wide speculation over the disappointing play calling performance of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians during the disastrous loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night sources close to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization have confirmed they are interviewing the former Notre Dame head football coach for the offense coordinator position. Weis is secretly due to arrive in Pittsburgh within the next few days.

    Sources also indicated that another motive for the Weiss interview is that the Steelers were very disappointed at not being able to sign Larry Johnson formerly of Kansas city now with rival Cincinnati Bengals. Rumor has it that Arians did not feel Johnson would fit into his offensive scheme…potentially fuelling an already controversial situation!

    If Weis accepts, Sources say Bruce Arian’ s contract could be terminated as early as this week

  8. This game was lost on the defensive side of the ball for sure the other night. The young QB Dixon played well enough to win but you can’t give up big plays in the 4th quarter. I really like James Farrior but this yr. you can tell he has lost a step or 2 and William Gay is horrible. I really hope in the off season that Keenan Lewis or Joe Burnett (push him) to start over (Gay) for the Steelers in 2010. I really hope Troy P gets back before the end of the yr. so the Steelers can clean up the back end of the defense. The defense has really let this team down the last couple of weeks and it is a horrible trend this time of the yr.

  9. Yoyx2,

    That has to be the most ridiculus thing I have read!

    Obviously, none of that is remotely true. Because if it were it would be the first time I would have agreed with Bruce Arians on anything. LOL Larry Johnson in Pittsburgh? Are you serious?

    And Charlie Weis in Pittsburgh? Please!!

    Next tim you want to appear as having inside info please make it believable(and desirable for that matter. LOL)


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