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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Steelers-Browns thoughts

If I told you before this game, the Steelers would return an interception for a touchdown, force 10 punts, limit the Browns to 238 yards and record four sacks, you'd have almost guaranteed a victory.

Then again, if I told you the Steelers would turn the ball over eight times - to once for Cleveland - and would still have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter, you'd have told me I was crazy.

@ Despite this loss, all is not down the drain for the Steelers.

Troy Polamalu and Antonio Brown should be back this week to play against the Ravens, while my gut feeling is that the Steelers will hold off another week with Ben Roethlisberger, even though he is saying that he's going to give playing this week a shot.

The final four games - three of which are at home - are winnable. The Steelers will likely be a three-point underdog at Dallas Dec. 16, but Pittsburgh is a better team.

And even if the Steelers only win three of those four games, the Bengals would have to go 4-1 in the final five to beat the Steelers for the final wildcard spot.

Cincinnati travels to San Diego this week for a tough road game, then hosts Dallas and travels to Cincinnati before closing the season at Pittsburgh and at home against the Ravens.

And there's a good chance Baltimore will be playing to assure a first-round bye in that game.

So if the Steelers can beat San Diego, Cleveland and Cincinnati at home, they'll be in the playoffs.

@ Honestly, what was the difference between Chris Rainey's momentum not being stopped at the end of the first half and Trent Richardson's being whistled dead prior to his fumble at the end of the game?

@ I seriously don't get Mike Tomlin's usage of the running backs at all. All four fumbled in the first half of this game. Yet Rainey didn't get benched because his fumble happened to go out of bounds?

And I really think this fumble rule is putting bad thoughts in the heads of his backs.

Not to mention the fact that Brown and Mike Wallace have both lost key fumbles this season, but neither has been benched.

@ I've praised Todd Haley's play calling quite a bit this season, but I felt he was way too conservative early in this game.

The Steelers really didn't start throwing the ball downfield at all until they were down 13-7 late in the first half.

To that point, everything had been short screens and such, almost as if the Steelers were playing not to lose - or not to have to put Brian Hoyer in the game.

Charlie Batch didn't play all that bad. Sure, he threw three interceptions, but really, only one was his fault - the deep ball into double coverage for Wallace.

Plaxico Burress ran a soft route that allowed Sheldon Brown to easily undercut him on one interception, while Wallace batted another into the air over the middle.

And Batch had some other nice throws called back on holding penalties by Ron Winter's crew, who must get paid per flag thrown.

@ Jason Worilds, subbing for LaMarr Woodley from midway through the first quarter on after Woodley left with an ankle injury, played a whale of a game.

James Harrison showed up strong for the second consecutive game as well and seems to be rounding into form.

Makes me think that outside linebacker might not be the glaring need in the draft that many feel. Though it would be tough to pass on a dynamic young pass rusher.

@ Ryan Clark continues to throw his body around with an apparent disregard for his own safety.

And that, and Troy Polamalu's issues this season, lead me to the safety position as the premiere first-round option for this team, which could use a ballhawk in the secondary.

@ Really, Ike Taylor undercut two passes in the first half just as Brown did in the second. The only difference was that Brown caught the ball, while Taylor dropped it - twice.

@ I honestly didn't understand Tomlin's decision to decline a holding penalty on the Browns at the 18-yard line and allow them to kick a 32-yard field goal as opposed to forcing them into third-and-18 from the 28.

Sure, the Steelers had stopped Cleveland. But a sack, fumble or even quarterback Brandon Weedon falling down, takes the Browns to the edge of field goal range - or even out of it.

Instead, Tomlin conceded the field goal instead of keeping the NFL's best defense on the field and allowing it to try to make a play.


Steve-O said...

We may back into the playoffs but this team does not look much better than the one that went "one and done" last year. I'm hoping the return of DeCastro, Brown, and Big Ben will turn the offense around but I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see Polamalu play a few series before he gets hurt again

Patrick said...

I thought the same thing about Rainey (and even predicted his fumble) but they put Mendenhall in for a series and he fumbled again but didn't lose it.

So basically they were damned either way. 4 RB's and no one can hold the ball. Thats embarrassing.

I wish they would just run Dwyer generally unless he needs a breather, let Redman do short yardage and Mendenhall do third downs. Rainey can be the waste of roster spot returner.

I don't agree on declining the call though. Too much can happen that gives them a first down - personal foul, PI, D holding, etc. that I don't think its worth the risk.

marc said...

i agree with patrick. dwyer is the guy, go with him. he's their long term answer anyways.

on a side note, i'm surprised the coaches haven't forced mendenhall to carry the ball higher and tighter.

i didn't mind declining the penalty. it limited the damage.

i actually like rainey. i think he's got a spot in this offense. remember, he's just a rookie. yes, he's small. no, he shouldn't run the ball up the middle too often. but if they can get him the ball in space, he's a matchup nightmare for defenses.

i wouldn't be surprised to see #7 play next week (unless the doctor forbids it), along with brown. i believe they are in must win mode now. you can't count on another team losing to get in, you gotta earn it.

Anonymous said...

This is whole situation is very reminiscent of a few years ago when Roethlisberger was out with a foot injury and came back too early ... and lost to the Browns.

Anonymous said...

This was the worst game by a RB Unit that I have ever seen. The number of fumbles was insane. I was not surprised by the Mendenhall fumble, he seems scared of contact this year.

Another great defensive effort wasted by awful offense. Those good games by Dwyer were a mirage, he is an average back. We should look into drafting a back next year too.

joe said...

this team plays with a lack of focus and discipline. out toughed by the ravens three games in a row. that's on tomlin

i wondered why johnson wasn't kept in the preseason. after watching batch's weak arm and deer in the headlights look last night, i still wonder why johnson wasn't kept and developed. batch may be a nice guy and all, but he was useless. is that on tomlin or the front office ?

the fumbles were pathetic, but i don't see tomlin benching colon for repeated penalties this season. or as you pointed out brown and wallace dropping wide open passes. chew some rear end on the side line when he fumbles, but pick a rb and stick with him for crying out loud. the o line will thank you.

haley did have his first bad game yesterday, but maybe he didn't know what to do with a noodle armed qb ?

mclendon and heyward should see more playing time.

one td last week, lucky to get one this week. just ugly to watch.

i think replay has ruined the officials, they don't make calls because they figure it will be reviewed, but they miss calls and then they can't be reviewed. either let the guy in the booth review everything quickly, or get rid of replay imo. everyone on the field makes mistakes at times.

adamg said...

IMHO, it's never a good idea to have a game plan that's built around playing not to lose as opposed to playing to win. I'm going to guess the reason the RBs were pulled after fumbling is that not turning the ball over was a major point of emphasis during the week.

The Steelers would be foolish to bring BR back next week if he's not 100%. He's already got a rotator cuff problem to some degree, so why ruin his arm, which I don't think is going to last another 3 years anyway, now?

Thought McLendon really brought it yesterday. He should get more reps for sure.

marc said...

the rotator cuff thing with #7 is crap. that came from him, not the team if i remember correctly.

at some point there was a study done on MLB players and found something like 80% had minor rotator cuff issues of those that were tested. but they were fine and playing. it just comes with throwing the ball.

DD said...

There is now way any sane person can't see that this team has very little discipline. Add to that the fact Tomlin consistently makes terrible in-game decisions (clock mgt, bend not break, etc) AND is outcoached by even the lesser coaches and it is extremely disheartening to know we will have to deal with this for another 15 yrs or so.

ibygeorge said...

When this team plays away, they should travel the same day as the game. What are they partying all night or what? 5 RB turnovers, something is not right.

kyle said...

Yeah, having to deal with all that winning for 15 years would be awful. I mean, Cowher never lost a bad game. Noll never lost a bad game (you weren't a fan in the 80s, were you?).

Am I the only one who thinks that 8 turnovers and the ridiculous amount of fumbling was bizarre and an anomaly? You know, since it has never happened before. But no, you're probably right, the players kept turning it over because they weren't coached hard enough. And the defense that played extremely well didn't create turnovers because they weren't coached hard enough. Upsets never happen. Ask the 18-1 Patriots.

adamg said...

Sometimes fumbling is contagious. I remember a game when Bobby Campbell was returning punts for Pgh. He fumbled the first one. OK, stuff happens, but he fumbled the next punt, too, and by his third chance at a PR you could literally hear the entire crowd at Pitt Stadium saying to themselves, don't fumble this one - and he did.

As for BR, he's thrown a lot of footballs over the past 10-12 years. Watch him. His arm already looks dead, esp on deep balls, and his passes don't seem to have quite the same zip as just a few years ago.

Slab said...

The "fire Tomlin" crowd needs to be completely ignored unless they are willing to propose a replacement. if Tomlin is to be held up to a fantasy "win every game, make no mistakes" standard, he will never be good enough and neither will any other human being. So unless they are willing to propose a viable alternative that can then be compared to Tomlin, it's just barking at the wind.

Anonymous said...

DeCastro activated, Gilreath cut, Malecki put on the roster, and Gilbert to the IR

Tim said...

So Dale,

I guess this loss is on the defense for not forcing enough turnovers, eh?

I mean, last week it was on them after they allowed 3 points to the Ravens because they didn't force enough turnovers. You were quick to point out that the offense can't be expected to score four points more than what they hand the other team. More of the same here. And sure, they forced a miracle fumble when the Browns were running out the clock and the refs blew it, but if they'd played better throughout the game and forced more turnovers, they wouldn't have needed it. Also, they should have forced that fumble more visibly for the refs to see, right? I mean, the offense can't do everything around here.

Steelerfreak76 said...

While I think it is laughable to blame the D for these last two losses. You have to admit, the rate of take always by this D is near historically bad. I read that we've only recovered 8 fumbles in the last 27 games!! While it won't solve all of our problems, creating more turnovers will certainly help!!

Anonymous said...

Teams usually get turnovers when the other team is down and attempting to come from behind. Perhaps if our offense actually put up some serious points and forced a team to try and keep up our D would get some turnovers. As it is other teams can play tight knowing our offense isn't going to score much.

The D is doing it's share.

Anonymous said...

Hate to beat a dead horse but..

"Only one Pittsburgh defender played more than 10 snaps and did not record a single tackle. That man was Ziggy Hood. He played 53 snaps"

marc said...

maybe ziggy is the ultimate team player who is constantly sacrificing his personal stats and glory to setup all the other guys on the defense for tackles, sacks, tipped passes, QB pressures, and other great plays. maybe, at times, he is requiring 3 offensive linemen to free up everyone else.

or...maybe he's just not as good as he was thought to be.

James said...

Marc, your first statement about Ziggy Hood is one only someone who knows nothing about football would make and by saying "maybe" at the start of it doesn't exscuse you for saying it. Ziggy gets owned 1 on 1 the majority of the game which leads to his offensive counterpart not allowing him to make a play on the offensive player with the football. He literally just plays with the offensive lineman's hands the whole game and so what if he is maintaining gap control, he is doing nothing when RB's test his gap anyways. Not to mention everyone has seen how much of a difference Cam Heyward and Steve Mclendon can make in their limited playing time, and they have to sit on the bench while Hood is wasting space and being an illusion? ProFootballFocus said it best, Ziggy's best chance of actually making a difference is for him to fall down and hope someone trips over him.

marc said...

maybe you haven't noticed my criticism of ziggy in the past. the first part of my post was complete sarcasm.

James said...

sorry about that Marc.

See Kyle and Patrick isn't it easier to just admit when you're wrong and move on.

kyle said...

You bet.

marc said...

nice job working in that dig on kyle and patrick.

James said...

Thanks, I think we need to pick on Kyle and Patrick as much as possible given how much semantic hoopla they force us to read on a weekly basis :)

kyle said...

I appreciate that, James.

Patrick said...

blah blah blah