Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shutting Down Seattle. Steelers 24, Seahawks 0

The Steelers got on the right foot with a huge win against the Seattle Seahawks 24-0 on Sunday. To be quite honest with you this game wasn’t all that impressive for the Steelers as they left a lot of points on the board and were pretty sloppy in a lot of aspects of the game. This game was more of an instance that the Seahawks are just that bad of a team and the Steelers were that much better than them.

The Steelers didn’t do all that well in the red zone. They started the game off well enough but marching right down the field after winning the coin toss and getting a first and goal after a pass interference call in the end zone but wasn’t able to punch it in. They actually went for it on a fourth and goal situation but Rashard Mendenhall was stopped at the goal line and the Steelers turned it over on downs. Thank God the Seahawks have Tarvares Jackson under center. The Steelers then got another chance with a first and goal at the two yard line at the end of the first half but were unable to produce a touchdown. Granted on this drive Ben Roethlisberger was injured after getting his leg rolled on and Charlie Batch had to fill in but that doesn’t mean that the offensive line can’t push through for a two yard rushing touchdown. It didn’t matter today but stuff like that can’t happen when good teams come to Heinz Field to play later in the season.

On the surface Roethlisberger had a nice line; 22-of-30 for 298 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Really solid line there but he just seemed off all game. He passes were sailing a little bit and while he did complete over 73% of his passes he just didn’t look crisp and missed a couple of throws that he would usually hit. He did make a couple of questionable decisions that didn’t cost him, but they easily could have. Hopefully he can get this stuff figured out as we go on. Large Benjamin got a pretty bad scare as I alluded to earlier with a shot to the knee he took. It didn’t look good and the first thing that went through everyone’s mind is ACL but luckily he was able to get up after being tended to for like five minutes and walk off the field. He came back on the field after missing only two plays but was still very gimpy so it was still worrisome. After the half, however, he did look like he was moving much better.

The running game was so-so. Mendenhall had some early success and it looked as if the Steelers were going to be able to gash the Seahawks for the some big time yardage, but that wasn’t how it turned out. The running game, as a whole, finished with 35 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. That isn’t terrible but you would like to see a little more than 3.5 yards per attempt. I touched on the goal line carries which is concerning but I don’t put that as much on the backs as I do the front line for not picking up players, but it was a pretty solid effort by the run game today. Mendenhall had 19 carries for 66 yards and Isaac Redman carried the ball 10 times for 49 yards. I was really impressed with Redman today as he found the end zone on a 20-yard carry that was beautifully blocked and executed. I was very impressed with how Redman used his legs to keep the plays going and picking up the extra couple of yards after it looked like he was going to be tackled.

I talked about the skill position players, mostly how the wide receivers would really be able to stretch out the secondary of the Seahawks and that is exactly what they did. Mike Wallace had another monster game with eight catches for 126 yards and a touchdown while Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders combined for six catches for 111 yards. The Seahawks defensive backs were giving the receivers different looks in terms of off coverage and press coverage but it didn’t really matter. You could tell that the Hawks were well aware of the speed that those players and were just letting Roethlisberger and the receivers pretty much do what they want.

The offensive line kept Ben clean for the most part only giving up two sacks and really giving him a nice pocket to work with on most cases. Doug Legursky really had a tough game and Jon Scott didn’t really stay as consistent as you need but first year man Marcus Gilbert played “above the line” according to Mike Tomlin and I really can’t disagree with that. Sure they weren’t going against a great defense but you still needed to see that he could handle himself in a regular season situation and he did just that.

The defense has now shown us the two extremes this season. They got blown out of the water in week one and then pitch the shutout in the second game of the year. They didn’t force a turnover but they did finally get to the quarterback with five sacks, three of which came on the lone Seattle series where they got into Steelers territory. That is right; it took until there was nine minutes left in the game before Seattle actually crossed the 50-yard line. The Seahawks only went 2-of-12 on third down and accumulated a mere 164 yards of total offense. It was really bad. They couldn’t run the ball, (31 yards) and they sure couldn’t trust Jackson to do anything. The defense got off the field when they had to as the Seahawks only had the ball for just over 21 minutes.

Overall everyone on the defense was pretty good. I don’t think they are where they need to be and to be honest I don’t know how to evaluate the defense after this one. The Seattle offense is really, really, bad and they weren’t going to do anything no matter what the Steelers threw out there. The Steelers didn’t even bring pressure on the Seahawks until very late, when they wanted to end it, so I have no idea. What I do know is that the Steelers took care of business, which isn’t the same thing you can say about the Baltimore Ravens who lost to the Tennessee Titans today. Ike Taylor had another nice game as I believe he was only targeted a couple of times and Troy Polamalu made a team-high eight tackles and was in on one of the Steelers five sacks of the day. Eventually the Steelers are going to have to create some turnovers but right now they just need to focus on getting better every week.

Last week I told you that you can’t put a ton of stock into one game. It is a long season and there is a lot of football to be played so I would say the same thing about today. The Steelers won, which is more important, and even its record to 1-1 on the season so we are back at square one. This was a dominating win but there were far from flaws. Ben was off, the offensive line couldn’t open up running holes inside and the defense still doesn’t look like they are on the same page but it was much better than last week which is what is important. Take things at face value, a shutout win is always good but don’t look too much into it. The Seahawks are a rebuilding team and they have a ton of flaws so this should be expected. You can only play who is on your schedule and a win was a must today.
Every win is a good win. Enjoy it tonight then let's get ready for Indianapolis.

This picture really says it all:

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