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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Post-Buffalo thoughts

Ben Roethlisberger, his agent and Steelers president Art Rooney II all denied the NFL Network report that Roethlisberger wants to be traded after this season and that the team is considering doing so.

In fact, Roethlisberger vehemently denied it, saying he's a Pittsburgher now and wants to end his career with the Steelers.

Judging from Roethlisberger's denial, his voice inflection and body language, he's either serious in his denial or a very good liar.

@ Sunday's 23-10 win over Buffalo improved the Steelers' record to 19-2 against rookie quarterbacks with Dick LeBeau as the defensive coordinator. That mark has been improved by a 2-0 record this season.

The trouble is, the Steelers aren't scheduled to face any more rookie QBs the rest of the way - unless some teams decide to change starters.

@ Still, the most important thing was not that the Steelers beat another rookie starter Sunday, it was that they showed the ability to shut down a good rushing attack.

C.J. Spiller had nowhere to go throughout this game and finished with 23 yards on eight carries.

Fred Jackson's numbers - 12-55 - look better on paper, but were propped up by an 11-yard run late in the game and an 8-yard carry late in the first half. On both occasions, the Steelers were more than happy to allow the Bills to run the ball.

Take away those two carries and Jackson had 10 carries for 34 yards.

The Steelers did an excellent job of staying in their gaps and stringing out plays to the sideline. That was especially big against Spiller, who is faster than anyone the Steelers have on defense.

@ After Sunday's effort, it was obvious it was a good thing the Steelers didn't keep Brian Moorman around.

@ Mario Williams was a huge focus for many coming into this game. He  not only failed to record a sack in this game, he didn't sniff  making a tackle, either.

@ Le'Veon Bell might be the Steelers' best running back coming out of the backfield as a receiver since John L.Williams.

He's still feeling his way as a running back, ie. hitting holes, etc. But he's really providing some punch in the short passing game.

@ Some people have asked why I think Mike Adams still has a future on this team. Take a  look at Sunday's game tape.

Adams is a ferocious run blocker. He needs to get better in his pass sets, but that should come. Then again, the entire team needs to get better in its pass blocking.

@ I didn't pick the Steelers to win this game because I thought they would have issues stopping Buffalo's run game and also slowing the Bills' pass rush.

But that didn't mean I didn't think the Steelers could win this one.

Now that they have, what does it mean?

We'll see next week. If the Steelers can get a win next week over Detroit, they're back in the playoff hunt.

As it stands now, they're two games out of the division lead with a game still remaining at home against Cincinnati.

They're also just two games out of the final AFC wildcard spot currently held by the Jets, over  whom they hold a tiebreaker.

Again, a win over Detroit this week could make things very interesting.


marc said...

tell me they didn't "look" like they were playing harder, swarming more to the ball on defense, and finishing blocks better on the o-line. where has that been all season?

with that said, they don't have a chance to beat detroit. the lions have too many weapons for the steelers to account for a an excellent d-line that will cause major problems. really, who is going to cover megatron...or at least try?

Dale Lolley said...

I wasn't aware the Lions were the second coming.
They're 6-3 and struggled to beat the Bears with a banged up Cutler and no Tillman, who left early with an injury.

The Lions outdoors are not the same as the Lions at home in the dome.

Dale Lolley said...

I might also add that the game against the Steelers is sandwiched between a Bears and Green Bay game for the Lions.

Noel said...

I was just glad to see some solid tackling again. I think the effort has been there but too many guys have had to expand their roles while guys like McLendon are growing into theirs. Everything gelled a bit in this game.

Drove me nuts in the pregame to hear Kurt Warner citing Ike Taylor as one of the big reasons for the struggles on D. These ex-players in the broadcast booth make me question just how compplicated learning NFL playbooks really is. Listening to him read the back of a cereal box would have been just as informative.

Offense looked better but it would still be nice to see this team hang 40 points on someone at some point. As the field gets tighter they just run out of options; FB, 2nd TE, Bell, someone has to be open when the receivers and Miller are getting all the attention. I like Haley though; I think if the line keeps playing like they did yesterday we will see a big game soon.

adamg said...

Dale, this wouldn't be the first time BR has lied about something.

I thought the defensive players took the criticism of LeBeau personally. They were smart, disciplined and tackled well.

The OL generally blocked well after again being banged up and shuffled around. The RBs were kind of a joke early in the season, but it looks like Bell, Jones and Dwyer can be an effective and complimentary threesome for the near term.

Credit to Guy Whimper. He's been playing well regarless of where he is on the OL.

NineFingers said...

Amazing what a win will do! There'd be 25+ comments on here if we had lost.

marc said...

dale, i'm just looking at it from a matchup perspective. who's gonna cover Johnson and how? no one has figured that out yet and I don't expect the steelers to be the first. add to that bush out of the backfield, who hasn't been a superstar, but he's a tough matchup for the steelers LB'ers. the lions have underrated TE's as well.

then there is the lions d-line versus the steelers o-line. who you gonna take there?

of the lions 3 losses, one was without Johnson. another, against the cardinals, was early in the year with 100 yards in penalties that kept putting the cardinals in scoring position (actually, palmer even noted after the game they were trying to draw the pass interference calls intentionally which setup the game winning TD). the third was a last play FG after the lions punter shanked a 28 yard punt to hand the bengals the game.

no, the lions are not a perfect team, but they are a very good team that I don't think the steelers can hang with for a whole game.

btw, the lions did beat a perfectly healthy cutler earlier in the season.

Noel said...

Every team, every week presents challenges. If they can get to Stafford consistently that would be the best way to negate Megatron but Dick Lebeau has been at this a long time and we can rest assured he has a plan even if all us internet coaches don't.

Whether the players execute...that's another matter.

marc said...

lol..."internet coach" is a great term.

I don't disagree with you there, unfortunately though, the lions have given up the fewest sacks in the nfl this season with 10.

Noel said...

It will be a challenge for sure. I would be happy to see them control the ball for about forty minutes and just keep the ball out of their hands. :)

I meant to agree with the accolade for Whimper's play. I was terrified when he first went in after hearing so much negative about him but he has really looked comfortable out there. Maybe not starter-calibre but very good as next man up.

DD said...

I have been quick to point out the shortfalls of this defense and what I percieve to be a tired scheme and lack of talent all season here. So I must chime in and parise the unit when it has a good game. Check that, excellent game. Great job yeseterday by the D. Tackling was superb. Timmons was a beast. Game could have gone sideways early when, yet again, this anemic offense did absolutely nothing for the the first 20 minutes. D held its own and got the job done. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Praising Whimper actually proves how bad some of our starters really are.

Dale Lolley said...

Would anyone have thought the Rams would go into Indianapolis and crush the Colts. Football is a matchup-driven game.

The Steelers have limited other big-time receivers the last few years. They'll double him and force the ball somewhere else or force Stafford to toss the ball up for grabs.

We'll see what happens. Like I said, it's at home and outdoors.

Erin said...

@marc - I wouldn't say that the Steelers don't have a chance to beat Detroit. If they were playing on the road IN Detroit then, yes, I would agree, but the Steelers are playing at home (i don't really agree with Dale on the outdoors part seeing as how Detroit has to play in Green Bay and Chicago each year, which would allow them to get used to outdoor weather). This isn't to say that Detroit will be a cakewalk because it won't. They are certainly far from the joke that they have been in the past as their 6-3 record shows, but, as Dale mentioned, the Steelers are sandwiched in between two divisional games for the Lions.

I think as long as the Steelers don't get complacent (which I don't see happening after the shellacking they took from New England), they have a perfectly good shot at beating the Lions.

Anonymous said...

Let me correct this, Detroit plays the Steelers, then Tampa, then GB with the possibility of Rodgers not playing, on Thanksgiving.

Dale Lolley said...

Look, I was a Lions fan growing up and stayed one throughout college. I know that this team doesn't/has never dealt well with success.

The Lions just don't do it.

Can they beat the Steelers? Absolutely. But is it a given? Nope.

Remember, they just squeaked by the Cowboys - those same Cowboys that stunk it up Sunday night - two weeks ago despite rolling up 623 total yards. They turned that into all of 31 points. That's not great offensive efficiency.

As for the indoor/outdoor splits. The Lions average 32.25 points per game at home (indoors) and have averaged 21.8 points per game on the road. Not the same offense on the road.

Noel said...

Any idea what's going on with Heath Miller? He has always been such a reliable receiver but he hasn't looked himself the past few games.

phil said...

honestly no team is a given to beat the steelers...despite what the record and the doomsayers might have you believe. the steelers are bad by steelers standards, not by nfl standards. and lest we forget: The Standard ... is the standard.

Dale Lolley said...

He's struggling through the knee right now. That's all. It takes time. He's out there, but he's clearly lacking some pop.

He's also not practicing every Wednesday, which might be hurting his timing a bit.

adamg said...

That might limit his routes to some extent, but it doesn't explain Miller dropping balls that hit him in the hands.