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Steelers stunned by Chiefs

November 22, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

The Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs???  The Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs!!!!

That was basically my emotional progression following Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Chiefs.  Initially I was confused.  Then came acceptance.  Then came anger.

How can the defending Super Bowl champs lose to a 2-7 team?  How can the Steelers generate over 500 yards of offense and lose?  How can the Steelers have almost twice the time of possession (44:07 vs. 22:25) and lose?  How can the Steelers sack the opposing quarterback 5 times and lose.

The only thing that calmed me down and brought my blood back down below the boiling point was the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the lowly Oakland Raiders.  In fact, every team in the AFC North lost, so nobody gained or lost any ground.

Had the Steelers won, they would now be tied with the Bengals for 1st place in the AFC North.  But the Steelers did not win. 

Frankly, I can handle losses.  Every team loses sometimes.  So the loss wasn’t what bothered me.  What bothered me was the way they loss.  The team allowed mental errors and poor execution to cost them a very winnable game.

The opening kickoff was a precursor of things to come.  The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles returned the kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.  So with only 16 seconds elapsed in the game, the Steelers found themselves down 7-0.

Jamaal Charles' 97 yard TD

Jamaal Charles' 97 yard TD

In the 3rd quarter, the Steelers were leading 17-7 when Ben Roethlisberger threw an untimely interception.  The Chiefs marched down the field and scored a touchdown.  Another costly mistake by the Steelers.

Later in the 3rd quarter the Steelers were driving and were in the Chiefs’ red zone when Roethlisberger threw another interception.  The Chiefs returned the interception 94 yards and would have scored had it not been for great hustle by Rashard Mendenhall.  Mendenhall ran down the field and made a tackle that prevented a touchdown.  The Steelers’ defense held firm, and the Chiefs had to settle for a field goal.  Nevertheless, that was another 3 points that the Chiefs shouldn’t have had.

In the 4th quarter, the Steelers’ pass defense suffered two consecutive breakdowns.  First Matt Cassel beat Ryan Clark for a 30 yard completion.  He must have seen something in Clark’s coverage that he thought he could exploit, because on the very next play he went right back at him and completed a 47 yard pass.  That’s 77 yards in two plays.  Three plays later, the Chiefs were in the endzone again. 

At the end of regulation, the Steelers found themselves in a 24-24 tie, despite leading in almost every statistical category. 

But as fate would have it, the Steelers won the coin toss, and chose to receive the kickoff.  Like everyone else in Steeler Nation, I assumed that the team would march down the field and win the game in overtime.  But to my surprise, the Chiefs defense stood firm and forced the Steelers to punt.

The Chiefs got the ball and pretty soon the Steelers suffered yet another defensive breakdown.  Matt Cassel threw a short pass to Chris Chambers, and Chambers managed to elude several Steelers tacklers on his way to a 61 yard gain.  So with a 1st and goal at the Steelers 4 yard line, the Chiefs elected to kick a field goal rather than try to get the ball in the endzone.  Ryan Succup’s kick split the uprights, and the Chiefs were celebrating while the Steelers stood in stunned disbelief.

Chris Chambers' 61 yard run

Chris Chambers' 61 yard run

The Steelers have been an enigma all season.  They’ve lost games that they should have won, and they’ve won games that they should have lost.  Frankly, the Steelers could very easily be 10-0 at this point.  But they could also be 2-8.  I’m never quite sure which Steelers team I’m going to see from week to week.

Is the defense one of the best in the NFL, or are they the unit that has often been prone to 4th quarter meltdowns?  Is Big Ben a premiere quarterback, or is he a player who throws silly, unforced interceptions?  Are they a team that can win with a “smash mouth” running game, or are they a finesse team that prefers to pass in obvious running situations?

With 6 games remaining, the Steelers are going to have to figure out which team they are.  They face the Baltimore Ravens next week, and each loss makes it more difficult to make the playoffs.  Steeler Nation is waiting to see who this team really is.  Will the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up?


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Steelers lose to Redskins 17-13.

August 23, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

August 23, 2009
By Donald Starver

The Steelers came up short last night in a 17-13 loss to the Washington Redskins.  However, we need to be careful not to read too much into the results. 

Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play at all, due to an injury that he suffered on the last day of training camp.  Offensive tackle Max Starks stepped on Big Ben’s foot, but the injury is not serious.  Roethlisberger might have even played a series or two last night if the field weren’t soaking wet.  Heavy rains made for a slick playing surface which posed too great a risk for further injury to Roethlisberger.  So Charlie Batch started the game in place of Roethlisberger.

The outcome of these games really isn’t important.  What matters is how the Steelers execute their assignments, and how they perform in what head coach Mike Tomlin calls “situational football”. 

The first unit left the game with the Steelers leading.  The 1st team defense had a nice stop within the Redskins 5 yard line that forced them to settle for a field goal.  However, there were still several areas of concern. 

The team finished the game with 13 penalties.  That is far too many.  Few teams can find a way to win when they give up that many penalties.  Most concerning was the fact that the first unit was just as penalty-prone as the substitutes were.

Also concerning was the protection by the offensive line (sound familiar?).  Though the Steelers’ quarterbacks were only sacked twice, they were under pressure quite often.  I paid close attention to Max Starks’ battle with Redskins DE Andre Carter, and Carter owned Starks.  If you look at the box score, it will show that Carter only had one tackle during the game.  However, that is not an accurate reflection of what really happened.

On the positive side, Stefan Logans made the game his personal coming out party.  Logans returned 4 punts for an average of 12 yards per return.  Even more impressive, he returned 4 kickoffs for an average of 39.3 yards.  No, that’s not a typo.  He averaged almost 40 yards per kickoff return.  He even had one 60 yard return. 

Logans pretty much closed the door on his competition with Joe Burnett for return duties.  Burnett fielded one punt and fumbled it after gaining only 4 yards.  The Redskins scored on the next play.  Burnett was also beaten for a touchdown while playing cornerback.  When you combine that with the fact that Burnett also had a fumble in last week’s  game, it becomes clear that Burnett is not having a good pre-season.  Fortunately, Burnett had an interception last week, else he might have been cut immediately following the game.

Other notable performances:

Dan Sepulveda- Sepulveda punted 5 times for an average of 47.8 yards.  His longest punt of the night traveled 58 yards.

Rashard Mendenhall- While he didn’t get many touches, Mendenhall averaged 5.2 yards on his 5 carries.

Tom Korte - Recorded an interception, and returned it 27 yards.

Ziggy Hood - Hood recorded both of the Steelers’ sacks.

Martin Nance - Nance made 2 catches for an average of 13 yards per catch.

Needs Improvement:

Tony Hills - Hills accounted for 2 of the Steelers’ 13 penalties.  I can live with physical errors.  Holding is a part of the game.  Heck, if an offensive lineman isn’t holding, then is he really even trying?  But what I can’t tolerate is mental errors.  Both of Hills’ penalties were due to mental errors.  On one he was called for a false start, and on another he was flagged for an illegal formation.

Joe Burnett - Hold onto the ball Joe.

Jeff Reed - Jeff Reed actually missed two field goal attempts in a row.  Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.  After missing his first attempt, Reed was given another shot due to a penalty by the Redskins, and he missed again.  It must be snowing in Hell.

Other news:

Back-up quarterback Dennis Dixon left the game with an unspecified shoulder injury.

300x100_Steelers_shop now picture

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And then there were four.

January 12, 2009 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

In an unusual playoff weekend, only one of the favorites managed to defend their home field advantage.  Fortunately, that one team was the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers 35-24 in a game that looked like old fashioned Steelers football.  The Steelers ran the ball, controlled the clock, and played stingy defense.  Sound familiar?

Willie Parker ran for 146 yards on 27 carries.  That’s a 5.4 yard per carry average.  Not a bad day’s work.

The Steelers ran the ball 42 times while only throwing the ball 27 times.  That’s probably not a bad ratio, particularly when the running game is working as well as it was on Sunday.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 17 of 26 passes for 181 yards.  More importantly, Roethlisberger avoided careless turnovers.  He threw no interceptions, and never fumbled the ball.  Roethlisberger did take several long attempts downfield that just missed their intended receivers.  Though the long bombs missed their intended receivers, they were enough to keep the defense honest.

On the defensive side of the ball, the NFL’s #1 ranked defense held the Chargers to 15 yards rushing.  Total.  In the whole game.  That is impressive under any circumstances, but considering that Chargers’ running back Darren Sproles had torched the Indianapolis Colts’ defense for 328 all-purpose yards last week, it is absolutely astounding.  Sproles averaged 1.4 yards per carry, and his longest carry was only 8 yards.

But the most impressive aspect of the entire game was probably the third quarter.  The Steelers controlled the ball so effectively that the Chargers only got to run one play from scrimmage during the entire quarter.  Their total time of possession during the quarter was less then 20 seconds.  it’s pretty hard to score when you don’t get to touch the ball.

So the Steelers move on to the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens.  The Steelers have already beaten the Ravens twice this season.  Now they’ll have to do it a third time if they hope to move on to the Super Bowl.  As they say, “three’s a charm”.

On the NFC side, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the highly favored Carolina Panthers to move on to the NFC championship.  Former Steelers coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm will lead the Cardinals to the NFC championship game for the first time in……….. well, it’s been so long that I don’t think anyone really remembers the last time it happened.  Suffice it to say that it was a looooonnnng time ago.

Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles ousted the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants, to move onto the final four.

The Steelers-Ravens and Cardinals-Eagles will meet next week to determine which two teams will meet in the Super Bowl.  Stay tuned.

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Steelers vs. Jaguars Recap

October 06, 2008 By: Admin Category: Post-Game Reports

Ding! Dong! The streak is dead!!  That’s right, after losing about 200 consecutive games to the Jaguars (okay, maybe not 200, but it was a lot), the Steelers finally get a well-deserved victory.

For those of you who didn’t watch it, the Steelers traveled to Pittsburgh, Florida to play the Jacksonville Jaguars last night.  No, that wasn’t a typo.  I meant to say Pittsburgh, Florida.  Afterall, that’s what it looked like.  Fans in black and gold took over the stadium and made it feel like a home game.  Of course, that’s what Steeler Nation always does.  Nevertheless, each time I see it, it brings a tear to my eyes.  Even after the game, the NBC analyst were doing their post-game recap, but I had a hard time hearing them over the loud chorus of “here we go Steelers, here we go!” that was reverberating in the background.

As I said in my pre-game analysis, this was not going to be your average Steelers-Jaguars game.  Both teams came into the game banged up and missing key players.  Additionally, the Jaguars have been unable to run the ball this year, despite being a run-oriented team.  That held true last night, as the Steelers’ defense held Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to a paltry 38 yards rushing.  I guess Fred Taylor isn’t a Steelers killer anymore.  Ha!

The Steeler came out smoking in the first half.  Mewelde Moore (or should I call him Franco Harris?) got the party started with a nice run on the very first play of the game.  Then things started to look shaky for the Steelers.  Ben Roethlisberger was sacked on the third play of the game (no surprise there, eh?), and he threw an interception to Rashean Mathis on the very next play.  Mathis ran it all the way back for a touchdown.  That quickly, the Jaguars were up 7-0, and their offense hadn’t even set foot on the field yet.

Touchdown Rashean Mathis

Touchdown Rashean Mathis

But after that, the Steelers offense got rolling.  Ben Roethlisberger started picking the Jaguars defense apart like Peyton Manning.  He marched the team up the field in a long drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to Heath Miller.

The Steelers’ offense was so effective at eating up the clock that the Jaguars’ offense didn’t even step onto the field until there was only 5:18 left in the 1st quarter.

Big Ben passes again!

Big Ben passes again!

The Jaguars got their second touchdown in the second quarter when Ike Taylor was called for pass interference on a 39 yard pass to Matt Jones in the endzone.  I said in my key match-ups article that Ike Taylor vs. Matt Jones was going to be one of the battles to watch.  Unfortunately, Ike lost this particular round.

After a Jeff Reed field goal and a TD pass to Nate Washington, the Steelers led at the half 17-14.  The Steelers first half performance was so dominant that going into the locker room at half-time, they already had 21 first downs as compared to only 4 by the Jaguars.  They had 300 yards of total offense, compared to only 49 total yards by the Jaguars, and they had 69 rushing yards versus only 15 rushing yards for the Jags.  And possibly most telling was the fact that Ben Roethlisberger had 239 passing yards and two touchdown passes at the half.  As we all know, it usually takes Big Ben two full games to accumulate that many passing yards.  But that’s what happens when a team’s first, second, and third string running backs are all injured.

Perhaps the most telling statistic was time of possession.  At the half, the Steelers had controlled the ball for a full 21:15, while the Jaguars only had the ball for 8:45.  Now THAT’s Steeler football.

The Steelers continued to have their way with the Jaguars in the second half, although adjustments by the Jaguars defense did slow down the Steelers’ passing attack.  After having one of the best halves of his career in the first half, Roethlisberger threw for only 70 yards the rest of the game, and ended up with 309 total passing yards.

While the Jaguars never were able to get the rushing attack going (they ended the game with only 38 yards rushing), David Garrard came alive in the second half and made it a game.  He threw for another touchdown pass and had the Jaguars up 21-20 late in the game.

The Steelers marched down the field and scored again on a touchdown pass to Hines Ward late in the 4th quarter, putting the Steelers up 26-21.  Coach Tomlin realized that Jacksonville’s next possession would probably be the last possession of the game, so he chose to go for the 2 point conversion that would insure overtime if the Jaguars scored a touchdown.  The Steelers failed on the 2 point conversion, leaving Jacksonville with a chance to win the game.

Touchdown Hines Ward!

Touchdown Hines Ward!

The Steelers’ defense held firm, and the Jaguars looked totally hapless on their final possession.  Time ran out, and the victorious Steelers went back to the locker room under a loud chorus of “Here we go Steelers, here we go!”.

It’s good to have the home crowd on your side.  Fortunately, Steeler Nation is so ubiquitous that every game seems to be a home game for our beloved Steelers.  Here we go Steelers!  Here we go!

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