Monday, December 20, 2010

Playoff Bound. Steelers Lose. Jets 22, Steelers 17

A tough loss after a pretty average game from the Steelers. In the grand scheme of things the loss could have been a lot worse. Sure, is it hard to lose to a team that has Mark Sanchez as your quarterback? Yea, it is. Hey, we coulda lost to the Bengals. I am looking at you Cleveland.

On a little more serious note the Steelers did clinch a playoff spot, in week 15 of the season. I tell you that before the season and you take that in a second. The more interesting thing is that the Steelers still control their own destiny. They beat the one win Panthers and the Browns and they hold a 12 win season and a first round bye in the NFL playoffs. Can’t really complain about that. All you can ask is that you control your own destiny and not have to worry about other teams winning and losing to get what you want.

All things considered the Steelers came out of the game pretty healthy. A lot healthier than they have been in some time, which is good because they play the Panthers in like five minutes. The post game is going to be short this week because lets face it, there isn’t much to say about last night’s game.

It is always tough to lose a game like you feel like you should win, but it is what it is and the Steelers have to block it out and get ready for another game, and the rest of the season.

Post Game Thoughts:

-Special teams was the difference in this ballgame. In my round table talk with the boys I talked about being afraid of Brad Smith and that just given the chance he can break the big one and swing the momentum of the game, which could be the difference. Although the opening kickoff is literally the first play of the game it gave the get the confidence it needed, and a jump start for the game, just as many were sitting down. Smith took the opening kick back 97 yards and it just gave you that uneasy feeling that it was going to be a long game.

-The defense wasn’t too bad in the game. Missing Troy really hurt at times and although the Jets didn’t run for a ton of yards (27 carries, 106 yards) having Troy in there would have been really nice in order play in the box. The Jets were able to pick up some key first downs late in the game by running the football and killing some clock. Granted the defense stepped up and made plays to get the offense back the ball so it wasn’t a total loss. The Jets came in with a pretty nice game plan for Mark Sanchez to succeed, three step drops and get the ball out of his hands. A primary reason that there was no pressure was because the ball was out of his hands before the pressure could even get there. Nothing much you could do about it.

-Another personal foul, helmet to helmet call, on the Steelers which was terrible. I was sitting up top in the 500 levels and distinctly remember watching this play and saying there is no way that is a penalty. Then the flag came. Why even wear pads if you can’t hit them in the shoulder? This is starting to get really embarrassing for the league. Whatever, I hope Clark does it again next week and forces a fumble. Jokes.

-The Jets pass rush was pretty underwhelming all day and the Steelers offensive line was thankful for that. Ben got sacked three times but he largely had ample amount of time to throw the football and find receivers. Unfortunately for the Steelers Ben was just a little off all game. I thought the offensive line run blocked well, as the Steelers ran for 147 yards on 25 carries and as I mentioned Ben had time to throw. Can’t complain about that and no holding penalties. Huge. Hopefully they are finally starting to build a little chemistry and getting themselves comfortable because we are now in playoff mode.

-Ben was alright. His numbers were nothing overwhelming (23-of-44, 263 yards, 1 TD) but he made a ton of play in the game to give this team a chance to win. On the Steelers last drive, in which they had to go 92 yards in around two minutes, Ben was 6-of-9 for 60 yards. Although they didn’t get to the end zone he did get them to the ten yard line and set up for a very manageable chance to win it. Ben was a little off early in the game as he missed some targets and the balls were sailing on him, but for the most part I thought Ben was pretty good. There were drive where he was just masterful and other drives where he looked average. Ben led them on scoring drives of 96 and 74 yards for touchdowns. Not bad for an offense that was said to be “terrible” by a number of people.

-The safety in the end zone was a really tough play to watch. When you are only down by a field goal with about three minutes left you don’t want to give up any points from your offense. With the ball resting on like the two yard line the Steelers try the inside handoff to MeMo and Jon Scott totally missed on his block and MeMo was tackled for a safety. I, unlike most, don’t really have a problem with the play call after I was able to actually sit down and clear my head. Still doesn’t mean it sucks less. Rashard Mendenhall was having a great game and he only got 17 touches so obviously I would like to see him get maybe around 25 touches on days like this but people are going to complain either way. I was ok with how the offense went yesterday, but there are always going to be plays that people are unhappy about.

-Manny Sanders had a really nice game for the Steelers on Sunday. He was much more consistent with catching the football as he had seven grabs for 78 yards. A lot of those seven catches resulted in first downs and many key first down pick ups. I like what I see in his development and hopefully he can continue to be that third receiver with his great speed and ability to make plays.

-Big ups to Mike Wallace. Mikey caught seven passes for 102 yards and eclipsed the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the first time in only his second season of football. Wallace was also making some big plays in the passing game and is quickly making people forget about Santonio Holmes and his departure. Congrats Mikey.

-Holmes wanted this game bad. One of the things I remember see was after the clock hit zero and the Jets won the football game Tone sprinted to midfield, on the Steelers logo, and took a bow to both sides of the field to the fans. It almost seemed as if he was telling everyone in Pittsburgh “I told you so”. Whatever. I still got much love for you Tone. He caught six balls for 40 yards, but his highlight play was when he caught a second down pass and was tackled, jumped up and did his little first down point and dropped the ball. Tough thing was he was a yard short of the first down marker. I mean so short that there wasn’t a measurement. That made me laugh.

Time to get our focus for Carolina. This is exactly what the Steelers team needs to get back into the flow. There surely isn’t going to be any Troy and after Heath was deactivated for the game last night I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he didn’t suit up on Thursday. To be honest, I kind of hope he doesn’t. Short week and let him sit until Cleveland. I know the Steelers shouldn’t look at teams and say that they should have this one in the bag, but I think I can say that. If the Steelers can’t beat the Panthers then they shouldn’t have the bye in the first round. Simple as that.

Take a quick three minute nap and wake up for kickoff. Lets this one out of your mind.

Get your mind right.

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