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Monday, October 28, 2013

Post-Oakland thoughts

Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard touchdown run on the game's first play from scrimmage was a tone setter for the Raiders.

It put Pittsburgh's defense on its heels for the remainder of a first half which saw Oakland build a 21-3 lead.

Oakland had 244 total yards in the first half and finished with 279. I'm no math whiz, but that looks like 35 yards in the final two quarters.

But  the damage, thanks to that Pryor run and Zoltan Mesko not fielding the snap cleanly, which led to a little pressure by Rashad Jennings on David Paulson turning into a partially blocked punt that gave the Raiders the ball at the Pittsburgh 26.

It appeared that had Robert Golden not immediately fielded the punt - he appeared to think it was a live ball - it might have traveled another 10 to 15 yards.

But hey, once again, the Steelers defense could have stopped an opponent on a short field, but did not.

Those failures to come up with stops on quick changes have been killers this season.

@ Pittsburgh won the turnover battle and lost for the first time since Oct., 2010 against Baltimore. For a team that doesn't get many turnovers, that's a true killer.

@ Pryor completed 10 of 19 passes for 88 yards and two interceptions, a passer rating of 25.7. And won.

He won because he broke Kordell Stewart's record for a touchdown run by a quarterback of 80 yards.

In fact, I feel like I had seen Pryor's performance 100 times before because I saw every start Stewart made for the Steelers in person.

Everything about Pryor's game Sunday looked like Stewart, from the great runs to the overthrown passes that turned into interceptions.

Pryor was 6 of 11 passing for 43 yards when the Steelers kept him in the pocket. Problem was, they didn't do it nearly enough in the first half, thanks to that 93-yard run.

@ Down 11, Ben Roethlisberger wasted a timeout on second-and-three at the Oakland 12 because he was too busy arguing for what he thought was a horse collar tackle on Le'Veon Bell.

That timeout sure would have come in handy even if the Steelers had been forced to kick a field goal in that situation. They scored a touchdown, instead, to cut the lead to 21-18 after also getting a two-point conversion.

Pittsburgh used both of its remaining timeouts and Oakland ran its third-down play with 1:10 remaining. By the time the Raiders punted, because the Steelers were out of timeouts, they got the ball back with 18 seconds remaining.

Roethlisberger said that he and Mike Tomlin will talk Monday about whether it's more important to take a delay penalty in that situation or use the timeout.

How about this? Let the officials call the game and keep playing. Then, you don't have to worry about whether a penalty is called or not. I've yet to see an official, 20 seconds after a play is over, decide that he did, indeed, see a penalty because a player pleaded with him.

But, if Roethlisberger is going to argue, he's got to take the penalty in that situation rather than burning a timeout.

@ Shaun Suisham has missed five field goals in the past season and a half, but each one of them has been costly.

That's the way things go when you count on winning games by three.

@ I'll be shocked if Mesko is still on this team by the end of this week. After all, somebody has to take the fall for this disaster. Why not the JV punter?


adamg said...

The Steelers finished the game with only the C and RT in their original positions. That's a pretty tough position to be in for any offense.

A 10 yr vet qb needs to be smarter than arguing a call near the end of the game and then using a TO to make up for running down the play clock. This is especially true when he sees the other skill players dragging defenders with them out of bounds to stop the clock.

I don't think there's much left to be done this season other than to evaluate players for next season and beyond to determine who's worth keeping and who's not.

Anonymous said...

Signing Mesko has proven to be a dumb move. Been terrible all year.

Easley said...

Well that game was a buzz kill. I blame myself for being lulled into a false belief of competence these past two weeks when the first four games showed otherwise. I'm back to my original state of acceptance.

Frank Beans said...

This is the worst job of coaching I have seen. Tomlin should be ashamed of his team's "preparation".

marc said...

will the real pittsburgh steelers please stand up, please stand up, please stand up...

well, i guess we saw the real steelers yesterday. yes, o-line injuries are hard to overcome, but those o-linemen don't play defense.

amazing how simple it is to play defense against pryor. "contain" is all that matters against the raiders, like i said before the game. all they need to do is contain him and mcfadden and that pryor cannot beat you with the pass. yet, woodley comes crashing down like a moron and pryor is off to the races.

i don't care how well the defense played in the second half, that's how the whole game should have been. either the gameplan sucked or the execution sucked, or both. but no excuses. this was an easy matchup for the steelers defense and they totally blew it.

add to that the worst punter in the nfl, suisham crapping his pants, and all the other things that go wrong when and get magnified when the team sucks and once again, you lose to the raiders.

for a team to lose to both tebow and pryor is simply embarassing. i, for one, would like to see as much playing time as possible for the young guys expected to be on the team next year. get them the game experience they need now.

TarheelFlyer said...

I don't think I have ever seen the Steelers do so many stupid things as they did yesterday. I don't blame the coaches at all for yesterday's debacle. I blame the execution. Why is Clark biting on the first play? Why is Paulson turning a guy to the inside? Why is our Oline ALWAYS getting hurt compared to other teams?

marc said...

amazing, how some fans were commenting on how well woodley has been playing this season that he doesn't even record a tackle in this game.

adamg said...

Lebeau's defense has a lot of moving parts and if just one guy is out of position or doesn't do what he's supposed to do the whole scheme falls apart. Sort of like Jenga. I think maybe the vets are trying to do too much themselves instead of sticking with being where they are supposed to be. Bradley explained very well what went wrong with the 93 yd run, Woodley abandoned his contain and Clark failed to stay back as the single high safety. These guys should know better, but when a team is struggling, I suppose the temptation is great to make something happen rather than stay home and do your job as the defense is designed.

I know Pryor is a great athlete, but he, literally, is running the exact same plays/reads he did in HIGH SCHOOL. He has not improved as a qb one bit through 4 years of college and now the pros.

It seems like only the Steelers have OL problens, but if you look around, it's kind of endemic around the entire league.

Fred Sandusky said...

What a joke of a team. I am so sick of all the excuses. This team has no heart and very little pride. At least I can now let the season go and not worry about the Squealers. I am still a fan and that will never end but the fans deserve more than the crap we are watching. All I read this week was watch Pryor running and the first play of the game 93 f'king yards!

Anonymous said...

People need to stop talking about "heart" as if the Steelers don't care. This team just isn't very talented.

As for the coaches...I really can't say. I think our d and o schemes are fine.

I think Haley is just an OK offensive coordinator. No one could make these players look good.

adamg said...

I find it hilarious the scapegoat is the punter. Punting is the least of their problems. Maybe some blame goes to the ST coach who thinks it's a good idea to put Paulson on the edge when the OC prefers a 6th OL to him as the 2nd blocking TE.

Anyway, Butler wasn't much better last year and the Steelers did win a SB with Chris Gardocki punting.

Fred Sandusky said...

People are talking no heart and pride because that is the fact. Watch the game, this team is slow to the huddle, dropping balls, not hustling to loose balls and slow to start the game. These are signs of not caring.

DD said...

The inability of Tomlin and BR to manage a game clock is maddening. How in the World can every fan understand that you need to play with urgency when down so many points and NOT take up the entire play clock every single snap. Even when they go no huddle Ben takes it down to 7 secs (rather then 0 every other time). BR has always been terrible calling TO's. Tomlin needs to insert himself in that regard and he just does not do it. Probably because he is just as bad. I know in this case it wsa completely Ben's fault for trying to argue a moot point with the ref. But in general, Tomlin is just as much to balme and was to blame not forcing urgency with 8 mins left in the game. I just do not understand it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:05

Let me expand a little bit on what you said. Think of the Steelers as a 3 legged stool. If any of the legs are broken, the stool doesn’t work. One leg is the players, one leg is the coaches and one leg is the front office. If any of these groups doesn’t do its’ job, it effects the other groups and the Steelers suck, as currently is the case. The problem I’m having is I’m not sure which leg is broken and effecting the others or if they’re all broken. Some of the more common reasons, in no particular order, for the current problems are:

1. The Steelers have done a poor job drafting.
2. The Steelers have done a poor job evaluating talent.
3. The Steelers winning record have left them with poor draft position.
4. The Steelers have extended and renegotiated contracts which have left them with cap problems.
5. As Adamg mentioned, the QB takes up more than 10% of the salary cap which affects the teams’ ability to spend money elsewhere to support the team.
6. LeBeau is past his prime.
7. The Steelers don’t have the personnel to run a 3-4 anymore, particularly at nose tackle.
8. Haley is not a good offensive coordinator for Ben’s abilities.
9. Ben’s extension of plays has good and bad ramifications, but have taken a toll on him.
10. Tomlin doesn’t bring much to the table.

There are probably other reasons as well, but if the Steelers were winning, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Does it matter, probably not, but it’s a safe way to blow off some steam out of frustration.

adamg said...

One thing I wish Dan Rooney would do is to mend fences completely with Art Jr and bring him back into the scouting and evaluation fold.

As I've said before, I think it's always a fine line between when to cut bait with a set of productive and winning players and when to try and squeeze that extra year of championship football with contract extentions and the like. It's a gamble the Steelers took and now it has resulted in the cap problems as well as losing those young, in between guys like Keenan Lewis who don't get a chance to play until their rookie contract is almost up then can't be re-signed because so much money is tied up in the vet contracts.

Unlike others, I don't think the team is devoid of talent, but right now it's in a no man's land pushing out the old and bringing in the new.

Dale Lolley said...

Bring Art Jr. back? The man is 70.

As for the Steelers, they are one of about 20 teams this season that are good enough to beat just about anyone or lose to anyone on any given day.

There are about four or five really good teams, the next 20 or so, and then the bottom four or five.

marc said...

dale, the steelers are in that bottom 4-5 teams. just accept it so you can better manage your expectations. they have failed in mutliple areas where there is no quick fix.

1. talent evaluation: this is glaringly evident from the simple fact they thought adams was ready to start at LT. really? how could they be that far off?

2. drafting: kind of relates to talent evaluation, but still, they are missing on too many guys. for example, of the 16 1st/2nd/3rd round picks from 2008-2012 only 2 have made the pro bowl. yes, i call that a big miss.

3. coaching: relating to pro bowl comment, coaches are expected to "coach these guys up" after they're drafted. i'm not so sure the coaches are fulfilling they're end of the deal right now.

4. execution: i have long advocated the players should always assume the majority of the responsibility on the field. the execution just isn't there, period. one guy, #43, has been busting his butt game in and game out and playing great ball this year. that's it.

5. injuries: nothing you can do here. it happens and unfortunately when it happens to a bad team things get a lot worse real fast.

once the steelers lose 3 or 4 more, i think they ought to send landry jones out there for the remainder of the season and find out what they've got there.

Dale Lolley said...

No, they are not in the bottom four or five teams.

You seriously think that at the end of this season, they will be making a top 5 draft pick? Not going to happen.

Anonymous said...


The Steelers have lost to some really crappy teams, the Vikings and the Raiders, so it puts the Steelers in that really crappy category too. Going forward, NE, Det, Balt, Cinn and GB look like losses just from a record standpoint, doesn’t mean we can’t win one, just probably won’t. The Steelers will split with Cleveland because they are a bad team and that’s what they do with bad teams, they lose to them. Buff/Mia is probably a split situation, so the Steelers end up 4-12 or 5-11. Sounds like or close to top 5 material. I agree with Marc, put Jones in after the NE loss, just to see what we have and insure a top 5 pick. Won’t happen, the only way it would happen is if Ben gets hurt behind a makeshift line.

marc said...

right now they are sitting on the 5th overall pick.

of their remaining games - guaranteed losses go to pats, lions, bengals and packers. that puts them at 2-9. of the five remaining games against bills, browns (2), ravens and dolphins a record of 2-3 seems fair. that puts them at 4-12 for the season. that record picked in the top 5 each of the past 3 years.

do i think they will finish in that neighborhood? you better believe it. dale, they have lost 2 of their first seven games. which do you think is the aberration - the 2 wins or the 5 losses?

phil said...

steelers really didn't look bad for 75% of the game. defense was on point all 2nd half..even got some turnovers.

sure the offense needs work but nothing is going to make this offense good overnight until the O-Line can get up to par and the Steelers get a legitimate big play receiver.

massive overreaction up in here

Anonymous said...


You seem to answer your own question, just come to the wrong conclusion.

“steelers really didn't look bad for 75% of the game.”

Though we were probably watching a different game through different glasses, it’s commonly said that if the outcome of 2 or 3 plays were changed, the outcome of the game would have been different. Looking bad for the other 25% of the game isn’t going to get the Steelers there.

“nothing is going to make this offense good overnight”

And that pretty much sums up the rest of the season, hence the predictions of 4-12 or 5-11, not a massive overreaction but a reality check.

adamg said...

Dale, no offense, but these days, many people are working quite productively at 70 and beyond.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to think some fans are hoping the Steelers lose so they have something to complain about. So they can say things like "This is the worst job of coaching I have seen. Tomlin should be ashamed of his team's "preparation"

It just seems like there are a lot more comments after the losses then the wins.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:43,

The fans you are talking about are probably in the minority, most fans expect the Steelers to win, when they don’t, they use the message boards to release their frustrations. You are right though, there are more comments after a loss than a win, guess everyone knows how to fix the Steelers except the Steelers, hence the Monday morning quarterback term.

Dale Lolley said...

I'm telling you right now, they won't go 4-12. Not going to happen.

They will be favored in four of their next six games.

And sure, plenty of people work well after 70. But they're certainly not putting in NFL hours. It's pretty average for NFL employees - at least for the Steelers - to put in 10 to 12 hour days seven days a week.

Yeah, that would look very attractive to a 70-year-old.

Anonymous said...


I wish you would pass the kool-aid this way. i love how you emphatically believe they are not a bottom 5 team.

after going through the softest part of their schedule, they are indeed in the bottom 5. that would prove it is in the realm of possibility that they are indeed one of the worst.

i sure hope management doesn't have your mindset and think they are just losing after some tough breaks.

Anonymous said...

Dale your view of the Steelers is like the Black Knight in Monte Python. you know, the one who gets his arms and legs chopped off but thinks he can fight anyone.

Noel said...

I don't think things are so dire. We were spoiled for years having Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith on the line. If you had even one guy like that the entire D would be dominant again. All the time. Those guys are rare, for Pittsburgh and everyone. McLendon does it from time to time, so do Heyward and sometimes Hood; but not consistently. I do think we need an upgrade at NT or at least someone more capable of giving McLendon a breather but a small improvement at a few positions will lead to a big improvement for the whole unit.

Similar story on offense. When the line plays well the ball moves and Todd Haley looks smarter. When injuries force plug and play across the line it stagnates and everyone wants Haley fired.

Not a bottom five team for sure. There's more right than wrong with this team despite yesterday's debacle.

bruinmann77 said...

Dale first just because they are favored in these so called games the team does not have more than 3 more wins in them. They are not very good and continue to make stupid mistakes the are out of Sync and just plain bad.i am hoping for a top 5 pick and then the steelers find that playmaker.
IMO a top 5 pick is very doable

Anonymous Brian said...

The timeout debacle with Ben, and his comments afterward, would be pretty astounding if not so commonplace for him.

Yeah, there are far worse problems with the team than Ben's (and Tomlin's / Haley's / Arians's?) chronic inability to manage the clock or run a hurry-up, but it's very frustrating.

Watch other teams with good QBs run the hurry-up, and then watch the Steelers - it's baffling how sloppy and slow they are, when they're not being stupid.

How about with 2:44 left running on 3rd-and-1 (down 2 scores), getting the first down (running stupid IMO, but whatever), and then letting 30 seconds run off the clock like you've never practiced it before, and then getting sacked. Two plays, one yard, almost a minute of clock time.

Looks undisciplined, with lack of attention to detail.

Been going on even when the team was good - really lucky it hasn't cost them more often in bigger spots back in the old playoff days of '08 & '10.

Could give half-dozen examples off the top of my head but that would make my scribbling even more boring and pointless considering how depleted the roster is, talent-wise.

Anonymous said...

"Roethlisberger said that he and Mike Tomlin will talk Monday about whether it's more important to take a delay penalty in that situation or use the timeout."

Yeah, this my 10th year in the NFL as a QB and Mike's been the coach now for 7 years, so we thought we'd get together and figure out what to do in this situation. Ben, don't think too much about this, give Peyton a call, I'm sure he'll know what to do. You're right Brian, really hard to believe but par for the course.

Dale Lolley said...

Every game I watch, the teams have their issues. Just watched Seattle escape against a st. Louis team that, on paper, they should have dominated.

I just don't see the Steelers winning just two games the rest of the way. In their worst season at Heinz Field, the Steelers went 4-4 in a 6-10 season.

In fact, they'll win at least four of five of their remaining home games.
Course, you guys, the fans, are a big part of that.

As for the soft part of the schedule, I'm sorry, but that's coming up. There was nothing soft about flying to London, flying to Oakland, playing the Ravens, at Cincinnati or playing the Bears when they were healthy.

Anonymous said...


I give you credit, one of your endearing qualities is that you are an optimist. Since the Tebow loss, the average Steeler fan’s psyche has been on a roller coaster ride. Leading up to Ben’s injury last season, the 6-3 record, while looking good on the surface, included losses to Oak and Tenn, sound familiar? I think that is the most maddening part, for in the 2010-2011 seasons, the Steelers would lose to Balt, NE, SF, etc. which were good teams, so while painful, it was acceptable. After Ben’s injury, the wheels fell off and no playoffs.

While exhibition season is meant to evaluate players and get ready for the season, it didn’t feel very comfortable going 0-4, then repeating it to open the regular season. While it’s anyone’s guess as to how many games the Steelers will win this year, it’s pretty safe to say that this is not a playoff caliber team. It’s also anyone’s guess as to when or how it gets corrected and the Steelers get back on the dance floor.

BTW, I hope that in tomorrow’s conference, Tomlin doesn’t say something to the effect that the Steelers margin of error to remain relevant is slim but we embrace it, save your energy for the game on Sunday.

marc said...

the clock issues have been well documented (i figured patrick would have jumped all over that). but you guys bring up a great point. #7's comments imply he and tomlin haven't really covered that before. that kind of stuff should be automatic by now with everyone on the same page. it certainly lessens my confidence in the coaching as that is who i would hold responsible for that type of communication.

dale, really, your reasoning is that they will be favored? that their home record at heinz field is whatever? c'mon man, heinz field opened in the midst of a great team. well, those guys are gone and this team isn't even close.

but, for arguements sake, let's assume they go 4-4 at home. they are still realistically losing their remaining road games which puts them at 5-11 for the season and one of the worst teams in the nfl - which they are for many different reasons.

Anonymous said...

how is no one pissed about the unnecessary onside kick and screwing up field position for when we got the ball back?!

Frank Beans said...

Dale's gonna need a hug when this season is over

DaveN said...

I'll admit that I hated the Jarvis Jones pick from the start, but you've got to admit that he's looking more and more like a bust. I'm not a Tomlin or Colbert basher (given the way things are going, though, I might be one soon), but I HATED the absolute arrogance of marching right up to the podium to select JJ as soon as the clock started, without waiting to see what someone might offer for the pick in return. You just can't do that - JJ was in no way, shape, or form a can't miss pick. I think it was Wex who said something to the effect that Tomlin/Colbert acted like they were smarter than everyone else in the room at that moment. All recent evidence to the contrary...

marc said...

i'm not a fan of heading up there right away either, but it's hard to say he's a bust after playing 6 games. #43 was lost and clueless his rookie year, if you recall, but turned out to be pretty good.

jones clearly needs to develop his strength and more pass rushing moves, but he's a rookie in a complicated scheme that requires multiple responsibilities. it's not like he's a rookie d-lineman asked to do only one or two things.

adamg said...

A 10 yr vet qb simply should not have to be told what to do there. Of course he shouldn't have to be told not to waste time arguing with the refs, either, in that situation. The Steelers needed 2 scores, only 1 of which needed to be a TD to tie, assuming there wouldn't be a 3rd missed FG. That is situational awareness a 10 yr vet just has to have.

Dale Lolley said...

The Jarvis Jones pick was one the Steelers pretty much had to make. Nobody trashed the pick when it was made. NOBODY.

It's obvious that he's thinking too much out there, which is what happens to rookies in this defense. It's a big reason why very few have started.

Fans often get on the roller coaster. That's part of being a fan. Nothing wrong with that.

This is my 21st season covering this team. I got off the roller coaster a long time ago. Try not to overreact.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:39
“how is no one pissed about the unnecessary onside kick and screwing up field position for when we got the ball back?!”

Do you know why no one is pissed? Because there were some many things wrong about the game on Sunday, we forgot about it!

You bring up a good point and actually made me do some research. The onside kick recovery rate is 26%. However when teams are expecting you to kick an onside kick, it drops to 20%.

So you have a 1 in 5 chance of recovery. The other 4 out of 5 times, your defense is back on the field. Why not put the defense on the field at the 20 versus midfield? I knew the recovery rate was low and was thinking as you were during the game, but again, just par for the course. As with the long field goal attempt against Tenn last year, this Christmas, someone should give Tomlin a book of the likelihood of plays working and strategies to use during the 2 minute warning.

Anonymous said...

Not that it applies in this last game, but is anybody else peeved at the team's habit of just walking off the field at halftime when they have the ball and could be attempting another score? I've seen them walk off plenty of times when they had about 30 seconds left and could at least have TRIED to do something constructive with that time - like try to get in field goal range and get three points or maybe throw up a Hail Mary on the last play and try to get six.

Then they'll lose by 3 points when they either can't manage the clock correctly or they make a stupid mistake on the last drive of the game.

Maybe it's just me ... but if there's time left on the clock and you have the ball, I've always thought you should be trying to put more points on the board.

Anonymous said...

10-13 from last season, something is not working what is it in your opinion? What do you think we need to change to get to 8-8? Nothing???

Anonymous said...

Actually Dale, I used to go fishing with my dad in the late 60s and we’d listen to the Steeler games on the radio. My dad would be sitting there, with a cigarette in his mouth, muttering “bums” the whole game. These were actually wonderful memories as he passed in ’77 but I’ve been through the good and the bad as well.

The problem I have with the current team is that most of the wounds are self inflicted. Granted the injury bug on the OL is uncontrollable. I posted a top 10 list of possible causes yesterday for the Steelers demise and just scratched the surface, didn’t get down to details like clock management, game strategy, even travel considerations. How could you not know that traveling to London or Oakland for that matter effects the players and leave early/adjust accordingly. I could go on and on but I’m preaching to the choir.

BTW, I read where the Steelers were 55-25 with Arians while only 10-13 with Haley. Sure it’s just a coincidence and it is a team sport, every one contributes.

Greg Mercer said...


Why do you think the timing between Ben and Sanders is so off?

Does Sanders have trouble reading zone coverage, or is Ben throwing to the wrong spots?

Ben doesn't seem to have this problem with the other receivers.

Dale Lolley said...

Don't know why Sanders and Ben aren't connecting on the scrambles. It appears they are just seeing it differently. Sanders likes to sit down once Ben scrambles. Ben's looking for guys on the move.

You have to go onside kick in that situation. A 1-5 chance is still a decent chance.

The bottom line is that they can't continually fall behind in the first half and expect to rally every week.