Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Post-Patriots thoughts

Tom Brady was supposed to own Dick LeBeau, but that was LeBeau's defense on the field Sunday - minus several stars - that shut down the vaunted New England offense.

Or was it Bruce Arians' offense that did that?

The Steelers offense did a great job of keeping the chains moving via the short passing game and the defense was outstanding when it was on the field, particularly in forcing three and outs in the first series of each half.

Part of the reason for that was Ike Taylor's blanket coverage all day on safety net Wes Welker, but the Steelers also got a strong game from youngster Cortez Allen, who had Rob Gronkowski one on one several times, forcing Brady to hold the ball.

If Taylor doesn't make the Pro Bowl off of what he's done the past two weeks - shutting down Larry Fitzgerald and Welker - they should just stop playing the game.

But the addition of the likes of Allen, Stevenson Sylvester, Cameron Heyward and even Chris Carter bodes well for the Steelers the rest of this season.

© LeBeau showed that you can teach an old dog new tricks by stepping out of character and having his corners play a lot of press man coverage.

According to Tom Brady, it was more than the Steelers had shown all season. And the Patriots couldn't beat it.

The same plan should be used against Baltimore next week. The Ravens receivers can't beat and egg and Joe Flacco looks to have completely lost his confidence.

Or, as Bill Hillgrove put it, "Flacco is playing like Tyler Palko's backup."

© Don't look now, but the old, slow and done Steelers now have the best record in the AFC.

Wonder if anyone will bring that up to old, slow and done Warren Sapp this week?

© The Steelers could get James Harrison back this week against the Ravens, but it looks like they could be without LaMarr Woodley, who sacked Brady twice in the first half, then went down in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.

The beat goes on for the Steelers, who have had their worst season for injuries in quite some time.

© Loved the play by Troy Polamalu to bat Brett Keisel's sack-strip backward toward the end zone. Polamalu was going to have to fight a couple of offensive linemen for the ball.

Instead, Ziggy Hood nearly recovered it in the end zone before it went for a safety.

© On a final note, this is why you play the games instead of just figuring out who is going to beat who on paper.


marc said...

loved the press coverage. we have been calling for it for quite some time against the pats.

seemed keisel and hood played well. i felt keisel was held several times with no calls.

great game plan offensively as well. take what they give you and keep the ball out of brady's hands. oh wait, we've been preaching for that forever as well.

sorry, i'm glad they won, but many many people on here have been harping on these things for quite some time.

hope woodley is ok and they keep it rolling against the ravens.

datruth4life said...

ethoMan, I love this Check-Down Ben. Now, if we can just get him to get rid of the sacks. The OL had a nice game as well, regardless of the 5 sacks. I think that 3 to 4 of those sacks were clearly on Ben holding the ball too long.

Seeing Lamarr Woodley go down like he did was a frightening sight. I could see him missing the next couple of games but I hope that I am wrong. It looks like the Steelers have a new weapon in coverage against tight ends and his name is rookie CB Cortez Allen. He did a FANTASTIC job going up against Gronkowski, who is a beast. Ike is playing at a Pro Bowl level, case closed. Keenan Lewis also had a strong game in coverage. Wow, one of the best regular season wins in some time for the Steelers. Gotta keep it going against the Ravens. If Lee Evans is out again, I'd match up Ike against Boldin, C. Allen against Ed Dickson and Troy or Timmons against Ray Rice. It would be big to have Worilds and Deebo back this game since it looks like Woodley could be down.

Dale Lolley said...

The difference, Mark, is that they hadn't really had corners who could press on the Patriots before - outside of Ike.

You want McFadden or Anthony Madison pressing against them? Those were two of the top four corners last season.

Now, they've got the athletes to do it with.

Anonymous said...

Great game! There are still some kinks to fix, like not being able to get the TD a few ocassions, but that was one hell of an effort. Glad Kemoatou only had 1 penalty, which is a miracle. I also have to give it up to Gay... and I can't believe I just typed that. He has really stepped up, something I NEVER thought would happen. I hope they keep focused for the next 2 weeks with our division opponents in the horizon. The Ravens and Bengals ALWAYS bring it against us.

Patrick said...

great game all around really. It was good football by the Steelers with the Patriots trying to figure it out and keep pace. Usually its the other way around.

My one complaint is the playcalling on the kill-the-clock drive. Were they trying to kill clock by having Ben dance around? I was actually glad he was sacked twice and not losing the football rather than watch him play streetball ans risk a fumble when a FG ended the game. I really did not understand that at all. Any thoughts Dale?

I also wish Suisham was a little more reliable. I'm not saying cut the guy, cause theres no one else out there. But I don't care if Heinz is the worst place to kick in the league, you have to be able to make FG's at home. I think he missed from 44 today, not a chip shot, but you need to give the coach confidence you can make those. I fear him missing a big one in a close game in the playoffs.

Tim said...

The offense was lights out, and minus Ben's horrible pick, was incredible all night. Even Arians' play calling was great, except for that brutal "everyone go deep" on third and 3 when a field goal would have ended the game. Unless that was Ben's call.

But the defense deserves even more credit for what it did tonight. It allowed 10 points against the Patriots, and it would have only been THREE if they didn't hand over two automatic first downs inside their own five yard line. The offense was awesome, but this game ball has to go to the D.

Ike Taylor really is playing like the best CB in football right now.

Dale Lolley said...

On the first one, Ben looked for a short receiver over the middle, so he tucked the ball and took the sack. The second one was hard to tell.

But it was probably more safe than running the ball into the middle and having six guys grabbing at the ball.

Tim said...

I don't disagree with wasting time and punting, but why do it with slow and valuable Ben? Let Brown take the snap and dance around for as long as possible. Tell him he can lose as much yardage as he wants as long as he stays in NE territory, and he has to stay in bounds and not fumble. That'd buy an extra 5 seconds per snap, at least, and then the Pats get the ball with 9 seconds left instead of 19 (or whatever it was).

Zany, I know. But it's better than what happened.

Tim said...

I think everyone would be surprised how long a guy like Brown could stay up if he wasn't even trying to gain yardage.

Steve-O said...

Kudos to Bruce Arians for calling a fantastic game. He kept the Patriots guessing most of the game and even Phil Simms admitted he couldn't figure out what the Steelers were going to do when they came out in their various formations.

On the defensive side of the ball Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay were incredible. Troy Polamalu was his usual disruptive self and Ryan Clark was laying the wood all day long but the game ball goes to Lamaar Woodley who was a force to be reckoned with.

And finally, you are absolutely right Dale, the youth of this team is giving me hope that the Steelers will transition from their current crop of stars to their future stars without any noticeable drop off.

The Steelers are back on top and it may be early but its starting to look like a Superbowl rematch.

Henry said...

Toast your glasses to Carnell Lake this evening, boys.

Roy Horton Who?

Enjoy golfing in January, Roy.

Cajunyankee said...

Dale, we ain't made at you for picking the Pats to win in a shootout. Afterall, all the media kept reminding us how Brady owns LeBeau and how the Rooneys aren't the only Irish who owns the Steelers. We ain't mad at you because you were trying to be neutral and give you best and honest prediction while not being a homer. Afterall, Brady is among the League leaders this year in passing yds and the Pats are among the top in total offense.
Best call of the game was Belicheat deferring giving his vaulted offense one less possession.
I too figured it would be a shootout but predicted a narrow Steelers win on the Steelers Message board. I just thought our WRs vs their Dbs was better than their WRs vs our DBs.
Love your blog, been a follower for years. LeBeau taking a page out of Buddy Ryans book and making his own version of the 46 defense. Love It!!! Old dog still got game!! LeBeau amd Lake get the gameball!!

ibygeorge said...

Wow, a dominating game by the Steelers, but i was still pacing with 19 seconds left. BB and his receivers were clicking like we knew they could, and finally the D dumped the zone coverage. BA has to revisit the playbook when inside the 10 yard-line, it would have been a blow-out otherwise.

adamg said...

A+ to BA and LeBeau for their game plans.
They made Belicheck and his staff look like the Cleveland days Belichek.

BR and the offense did a good job of executing the possession game. Aside from the terrible pick that gave NE a TD and the inexplicable pass to no one on 3rd and 3 before the missed FG, BR was as good as I've ever seen him.

The defense was fantastic. NE is a one trick pony offense, with no deep threat and no running game. Credit to Colbert for finding some good, young DBs, to Carnell Lake for coaching them up and to LeBeau for turning them loose in man-to-man, press coverage. They didn't blitz much, but the DL and Woodley did a great job of collapsing the pocket when it counted. It's going pretty much unnoticed, but Kiesel is playing at Pro Bowl level.

The Steelers have collected some good, young talent and they are retooling right in front of our eyes with all the injuries to the older vets.

marc said...

for the last six seasons they haven't had corners who could play press coverage? i don't know about that.

anyway, you are right, they do appear to have upgraded their athleticism at the DB positions. however, i think you have to give the majority of credit to ike taylor. if he wasn't playing so well they would need to provide more help his way.

the ravens game will be tougher. better defense and a better run team.

emac2 said...

They aren't the old and slow steelers but...

Would they be if Smith, Hampton, Farrior, Harrison and Ward started that game? Hard to say.

I think the thing that impressed me the most yesterday, and it's a long list, is that everyone seemed to chuck the egos and did what they needed to do to win. I don't know if that happens if the "old guys" are all starting.

TarheelFlyer said...

I wrote a post on the Forum after week 1 asking...okay, how do we get the young guys playing time? Well, it appears that injuries have done that for us. I don't like that we have all the injuries, but with our schedule the rest of the year, I think we will probably be getting healthy at just the right time...heading into the playoffs.

Patrick said...

Kiesel is playing incredibly well, the tip on the screen was great. He knew exactly what that play was - it would have been amazing if he picked it.

Also, how dumb were the Patriots on their last scoring drive? They throw what looked like the Santonio catch against Balt in 2008, don't challenge (which I can sort of understand) and then waste almost 30 seconds (!) to throw another pass where the guy thought he was going to score easy and gets knocked back 4 yards. If you't challenge, just try to sneak it quickly or whatever, but don't waste that precious time.

Didn't think their onside kick was the best strategy either. I think Belichick was a little shook and off his game.

marc said...

belicheat's post game remarks were mundane as usual, but he did comment that they did not coach well.

Anonymous said...

I've been as much of an Arians hater as anyone. But great, great game. And obviously execution by Ben & the offense.

The biggest moment of the season so far is when Max Starks showed up.

Cortez Allen & Keenan Lewis - yippee!

Ike is playing All-Pro, actually. Or close to it? (Are there only two cornerback spots?)

That was a dominant performance all around.

The various youngsters who came in (Carter, etc.) looked pretty good as far as I could tell.

Here's hoping Woodly can play vs. Baltimore, although that didn't look too good. Speaking of which, for a second there I thought Ike had been beheaded based on Kevin Faulk's reaction.

adamg said...

On replay, you could see Gronkowski's feet were in the end zone, but the ball itself never crossed the goal line. What a hit by Mundy(?) to keep him from scoring. Another great hit by Clark to turn Faulk and knock him back 3 yards. Both plays cost NE extra downs and time to score.

BTW, if NE ever loses Brady, they will be Indy without Manning bad.

marc said...

i thought it was pretty clear the majority of the ball was directly over the goaline when caught.

remember when holmes caught the late TD pass against the ravens at the goaline? if that was a TD, then no doubt they overturn this one if it was challenged.

joe said...

the coaches coached better, the players played better. was surprised to see us come out fired up and smack the pats around.
the timid play calling late though....why did we let the pats have a chance ? ben took more shots that he didn't need to take
clark had a great game. polo, not so much, but he gets the headlines for one play. keisel is getting it done. starks is our mvp. brown still annoys the crap out of me with his celebrating everything. great to see brady confused and out of sync early in the game, haven't saw that vs us in a long, long time ! the young secondary got it done big time yesterday, congrats
now onto what should be a brutal grudge match.

Derek said...

Acorss the board, this one felt good. As a fan, I am proud the way this team played. Recognize NFL talking heads! Speaking of which, how blatantly obvious is it that Phil Simms nearly outwardly roots against the Steelers. Every single game he calls he is praising even the ball boys for the opposing team and basically saying the Steelers are lucky whenever they do something well. I loathe him.

BillinDC said...

Was it Simms or Nantz that wrote off our two Super Bowl trophies because the Patriots were not good enough to advance in the playoffs for us to beat them?

An odd observation about a team that hasn't won a trophy since spy gate.

I hope at some point that story (and the larger story of how the Pats illegally use communication devises and jamming) gets told.

Dale Lolley said...

I had no problem with the onside kick call. In fact, I predicted it on Twitter no matter when the Pats scored that touchdown. The Steelers hadn't punted all day. Why would the Patriots kick it deep to them and expect to get a stop?

Patrick said...

Thats a fair point, but my feeling is you know that if you are going to get the ball at all it is going to be with minimal time left and no timeouts, even if the Steelers don't get a first down. Because of the time issue you might as well hope to get it with field position.

A quick google search says onside kicks are successful 26% of the time and I don't think that accounts for when teams are expecting it, so even lower. You have to think you have better than a 26% chance of making the Steelers go 3 and out, or at least not get 2 1st downs, especially when they are just trying to kill clock.

And you mention how well the Steelers O was in favor of an onside kick. You can also argue the Steelers D was playing that well that you shouldn't expect to go 80 yards in a min and a half. You need the field position.

marc said...

considering the pats couldn't get a touchback when kicking off, i'm guessing they figured their chances are better to go with the onside kick than give brown a chance to return the kick and then stop the steelers offense which they hadn't been able to do all day.

that onside kick was like leaving a birdie putt short, btw.

Patrick said...

maybe I'm just not a fan of onside kicks, unless its your only option. They don't work very often.

TarheelFlyer said...

Can I remind everyone that this game....this was the Baltimore game of week 1 for us? This was our "game" of the year on the calendar. No, not because it means more than next week will against Baltimore, cause we all know it will, but we had a LOT more to prove than NE did. Just like Balt. had a lot more to prove week 1.

Dale Lolley said...

They had a 0 percent success rate in forcing the Steelers to punt until there were 19 seconds left in the game and Pittsburgh was content to give them the ball back in their own end with no timeouts.

marc said...

i hear you. i mostly agree. however, i believe the steelers are mentally tougher than the ravens. just my opinion, not much to base it on.

considering the steelers can solidify their hold on the division the next 2 weeks, i don't see a let down from them.

but, as dale says, "that's why you play the games!" (imagine herm edwards voice)

superfan99 said...


I really don't think it was a situation where the Steelers considered it "the game" on the schedule. If anything, that game is coming up Sunday night against Baltimore.

Anonymous said...

Well, I had a hunch the Steelers would win this game, if the turnovers were held to a minimum. Having said that said, I cringed when BB threw that int. Great game plan by the Steelers, and even better execution!!

The D stepped up, tremendous play by some of the guns.... never use injuries as an excuse!!!

And Woodley putting Brady on the ground couple times, gotta love it!!
What is his status, anyone know??

Alot of football left to be played, and the next 2 games are HUGE for playoff positioning.....

bruinmann77 said...

Dale any chance when the Steelers hold their weekly tryouts do you expect them to bring in any Kickers? will they look at any lbs to add to the PS/

Dale Lolley said...

I'm sure they'll be bringing in some linebackers.
Harrison is expected to practice this week, though playing may be a stretch.

Patrick said...

I'll bet you a philly cheesesteak he plays Dale.

And they had more than a 0% chance of stopping the Steelers obviously, but I'm done arguing that one. I still think the onside kick didn't put them in the best position to win.

Patrick said...

well I take that bet back.

Harrison just said hes not playing

John Kang said...

Although it may have been illegal, Troy's punching of the ball was especially amazing in that when the ball hit the ground, he was 15 yards away from it, yet managed to get to it before anyone else.

adamg said...

The "Casper Rule" applies only to an offense player fumbling a ball forward to someone other than himself inside of 2 minutes. It doesn't apply to defenders chasing a loose ball.

Don't believe everything you hear come of out Simms' or Nantz' mouth.

Anonymous said...

The Casper Rule limits the offense's ability to advance the ball on a fumble on 4th down or in the last 2 minutes. This is a different rule altogether, falls under "Use of Hands" in the rulebook. It should have been 10 yards, the dolt Simms was right for once. Just one more rule where a ref must determine intent. Nevertheless so the ball is at the 30 with 10 seconds and no timeouts, I don't believe the outcome changes, though perhaps the more prudent action would have been to scrum for it or let one of their fat offensive lineman fall on it and the clock expires. Next time...

bruinmann77 said...

I very confused with all these injury reports.
Dale what position if any did the steelers break in for their weekly tryouts.