People will look at the seven sacks registered by the New York Jets in their victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday and point the finger solely at the offensive line.
And to be sure, the offensive line deserves the blame for at least half of the sacks and pressures against Ben Roethlisberger in New York’s 19-16 overtime win.
But Roethlisberger and the wide receivers have to shoulder some of the blame as well.
Roethlisberger is believing in his ability to scramble and keep plays alive perhaps too much.
Instead of getting rid of the football on a four or five count, Roethlisberger tried to keep plays alive too much against a Jets defense Sunday that was using its ends to keep him hemmed in and bringing pressure via stunts and blitzes from different points. The Jets also spied Roethlisberger with a linebacker or lineman in the middle of the field to keep him in the pocket.
So on several occasions when Roethlisberger couldn’t find somebody open downfield, he began to move around in the pocket and ran himself into pressure and/or sacks.
There were also times when Roethlisberger stood in the pocket – such as on the Jets’ second sack of the game – where the quarterback had plenty of time to throw the ball, but couldn’t find anyone open downfield.
The offensive line can’t be blamed in those situations.
Considering the success New York had with that defense, the Steelers had better expect to see more of it the remainder of this season.
© All of that said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes up front when the Steelers line up to play Miami next Monday night.
Chris Kemoeatu and Max Starks on the right side can’t be any worse than what we’ve seen this season out of Willie Colon and Kendall Simmons.
And at some point, you’ve just got to send a message.
© For all of the talk from the Steelers in the week leading up to it, it was obvious that they took the New York Jets lightly.
It’s probably only human nature that it happens. But you had better believe that it won’t happen anytime soon again.
© The run defense, for the first time in the past two seasons, was awful.
And it’s hard to figure out why.
Despite a 56-yard completion off a flea-flicker on his first pass, Kellen Clemens didn’t break 100 yards passing until the fourth quarter.
So with little threat of the pass, the Steelers still allowed the Jets to run for 151 yards, mainly because they missed tackle after tackle.
© Willie Parker continues to have problems with his footing. And on the turf at Giants Stadium, there was no real reason for it.
Everybody likes to complain about the field conditions at Heinz Field, but Parker, apparently, is struggling with his footing everywhere.
He’s also doing a little too much dancing at the line of scrimmage instead of just hitting the ball up in there.
The Steelers went with Najeh Davenport a little more than usual against the Jets and he had more success because he did just find a seam and hit it.
Parker may be thinking a little too much instead of just allowing his natural ability to take over.
Tomlin said earlier this season that he will run Parker until the wheels come off. It’s possible that is in the process of happening.
© If you were to forced to pick an MVP for the Steelers, Jeff Reed would have to do. Reed kept the ball out of Leon Washington’s hands on kickoffs most of the day with some perfectly placed pop-up kicks and was perfect on three field goal attempts in a tough place to kick.
© Santonio Holmes looked fine after the game after getting his ankle rolled up on in the fourth quarter on a short pass play.
But Troy Polamalu looked very banged up in the locker room. Polamalu was walking very stiffly and appeared to have some kind of leg injury.
© That 33-yard punt return that Washington had to set up New York’s game-winning score was as much punter Daniel Sepulveda’s fault as it was the coverage unit’s. Sepulveda hit a short line-drive kick that allowed Washington to catch the ball on the run.
© You could also credit some poor play calling in that situation.
Parker ran for three yards on first down and Roethlisberger was sacked for a six-yard loss on second down that moved the ball back to the 14.
On third down and 14, the Steelers ran a draw with fullback Carey Davis, who has just a handful of carries all season.
That’s a give-up play. And in overtime, when all the opponents needs is a field goal to win, you can’t run a give-up play deep in your own territory.
Even if Sepulveda hit a 45-yard punt and Washington called for a fair catch, the Jets were going to get great field position.