Sunday, October 2, 2011

Steelers Game 4 Recap - Texans 17, Steelers 10

Usually as the Steelers game unfolds, no matter where I watch it or if I am at the game, I always go through possible talking points and trying to formulate how the team is doing and some of the little things that are going on. Today I tried to do that as I watched it alone from home and I am not going to lie I still have no idea what I just witnessed. By no means did the Steelers deserve to win this football game and even though they only lost 17-10 they could have lost by about 28 if the Texans were so idiotic and moronic with their terrible penalties they committed.

The Steelers play in the first half could be attributed to what it looks like when you see a dead animal on the side of the road that has been run over about 25 times and has been left sitting there for about a month. It was really that bad. The defense gave up almost 100 rushing yards just to Arian Foster and they also gave up a 19-play 95 yard touchdown drive to start the game that covered over 115 yards after you factor in all the penalties that the Texans took. Overall the first half was a downright ass whopping but somehow the Steelers were only down 10-0. The Steelers put together a nice drive before the half was over that took up 10 play and 68 yards before they had its field goal attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown. Or was it? Turns out that the Texans exorcised one of their “bonehead penalties” on the return as holder Daniel Sepulveda was blocked in the back to wipe the score off the board. Unreal.

The first half also saw the offensive line produce the equivalent to mud. The Steelers only ran three drives for 21 plays and 105 yards largely because the offensive line couldn’t do anything. The Texans were bringing the pressure and pretty much having their way with the line. Ben was getting hit on almost every passing play and there were no holes to be seen for Rashard Mendenhall.

The first half wasn’t good for the Steelers either giving up 192 yards but it seemed like 392 yards the way the Texans were able to gash the Steelers defense on the ground. Matt Schaub wasn’t touched and didn’t really need to throw the ball because they were never in a spot where they needed to get the ball down the field. Being only down 10 was an absolute gift for the Steelers. They actually made it interesting in the second half.

The Steelers came out and absolutely dominated the third quarter. They held the ball for all but 1:38 of it and scored 10 points in order to tie the score. The first came on a 13-play 74 yard touchdown drive to open the half and culminated it with a Mendenhall touchdown off the right side. They then got the ball back after a quick three and out and started running the football. In the nine play drive the Steelers didn’t throw a single pass and moved 55 yards but were stopped when Isaac Redman was stopped on a third and two for only a one yard gain. That might have been the game there. If the Steelers can take the lead coming off two strong drives they really could push the issue but the failure in the red zone really cost them big time in that drive.

The next three Steelers drives, all in the fourth quarter resulted in 12 plays for three yards. They couldn’t do anything and as well as the offensive line played in the third quarter they reverted to how they played in the first half and Ben was just getting hit every play. The Steelers defense really stepped it up in the second half and played some inspired ball. They made one big mistake and it was the decider. Foster hit a cut back lane and ran to the end zone with about 12 minutes left from 42 yards out. The Steelers actually got the ball back with just over a minute left on its own one yard line and Ben got picked and it got returned for a touchdown. Or did it? Another bonehead penalty by the Texans when a defensive player went right at/fell into Ben’s knees and he got called for roughing the passer. Ben then completed a few more balls until he finally had to try and stretch the field and got intercepted. This one actually counted. Game.

Really, like I said before, the Steelers didn’t deserve to win this game and in most senses I am still in some kind of shock that they were even within a score but the defense played some good ball in the second half and the offense had a good quarter so many I am not shocked? No, I am shocked. Poor day all around for the Steelers.

General Thoughts

-I just can’t say enough how bad the offensive line was today. I mean they did play well in the third quarter but the Steelers are going to be able to beat nobody only having their offensive line competent for one quarter of football. The Texans got to Roethlisberger a season-high five times and I have no idea how Ben didn’t get taken off on a stretcher. When he wasn’t getting hit the run game couldn’t find holes and it was just a bad situation. The Steelers will be able to beat the Seattle’s of the league with performances like that but they can’t beat even an average team with a performance like that. Something needs to happen. This play was across the board, including ace Maurkice Pouncey. The Steelers were driving in their second position of the third quarter and Ben converted a third down pass and Pouncey was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for a late block. It cost the Steelers a chance at first and goal and it was a huge penalty. Can’t happen.

-On the same front of lines the defensive line seemed to be in a competition with the offensive line for the duds of the game. Routinely they were getting blown off the ball and there were massive holes to run through as Foster carried the ball 30 times for 155 yards and a touchdown. The Texans were also able to expose the linebackers both in coverage and pursuit angles. Houston had a great deal of success with Owen Daniels when he was matched up on Steelers linebackers not named Lawrence Timmons and Houston also used misdirection to gash the over pursuit. A prime example of this was the Foster touchdown run when LaMarr leyWood got sucked down inside and gave Foster a ton of room to run. Not a good day for the front seven.

-Hard to really tell how Ben did today. He was repeatedly hit and wasn’t given much time to pass at all. He only connected on 16-of-30 passes for 206 yards so statistically isn’t was a good game for him but I can’t really see what else he could have done. When it wasn’t the pressure that got to him it was missed hot reads and drops by receivers that got the best of him. He was able to elude some pressure and make some plays but like I said before I am shocked he is still alive. On the late hit in the final drive Ben dinged up his left ankle. There is no word on what the injury is but he was seen leaving the field in a walking boot. Not good. Word is that Roethlisberger said he would be playing next week pretty much no matter what but who knows if that is lip service or not. If Ben doesn’t play this team as currently constructed is going to have a hard time winning.

-Antonio Brown might have surpassed Emmanuel Sanders as the team’s number three (number two?) receiver as he was targeted a team-high 10 times today. He only made five catches for 67 yards but he looked pretty good. One huge downside was that Brown missed reading some hot routes which was a pretty big killer to the tempo that the Steelers had going. If he can get the mental side a little better on reading blitzes then he will only get that much better. He would have had a touchdown catch in the game on a double move but Ben just threw over him. Brown was also pretty outstanding on punt returns again with a 33 yard return that set the Steelers up around mid field on their second to last drive. The one mistake that was made in the return game for Brown was that he once again fair caught a ball inside the 10 yard line. You can’t do that. You have to fake the fair catch and let the ball roll into the end zone and give your team the extra 15 yards.

-There weren’t too many bright spots but Daniel Sepulveda was one of them. There were people that thought he should be cut in training camp when he was in a battle for his job but he has been spectacular so far this season. He averaged 50.5 yards on four punts today and when the Steelers were pinned deep he was able to flip the field position with great punts. On the same plane as that the coverage teams were pretty good for the Steelers today. It is one thing to punt and kickoff well but the coverage had to be there and it was.

-It wasn’t a pretty game and the Steelers are now 2-2 on the season. They have played three of their first four games on the road. After the Ravens game I said that I wasn’t going to get worried about the defense until it started to become a problem game after game. After four games I am starting to get worried about the defense. Teams are able to pretty much run at will on them and they have only created one turnover this season. They had no sacks again today and that just isn’t going to cut it. I still think the defense can be good and have a solid year but it needs to change pretty quickly. Overall the defense played good in the second half and shitty in the first half. Bottom line is that they only gave up 17 points. Can you really complain about that when your defense gives your team a chance to win? I can’t. Don’t get that statement twisted though, the defense needs to improve in a big way.

-A lot of people in my timeline, and people they were retweeting, are talking about how this is a five or six win team this year. I don’t know if I am really ready to jump on that shit yet and that might be a pretty big overreaction. A lot of people like to look at the season in four segments of four games. The Steelers are now on to the second segment of the season. With Ben Roethlisberger on the team I can see 10 or 11 wins with the schedule that the Steelers have set up for them. The two big games against the Pats and Ravens come on back to back weeks and then the Steelers play the Bengals twice, Browns twice, Chiefs, 49ers and Rams. Not exactly teams that is in the upper half of the league. Could the Steelers lose a bunch of those games? Absolutely. Would I bet on it? Probably not. We will see I guess.

Tough game. They happen. It wasn’t pretty but we live to play another week. The Steelers have won with bad lines before and if they can string together a game or two of good games I would be excited. I don’t know if that happened but we are only four games into a 16 game season. I am worried a little bit about this team but let’s let the season unfold. No, Charlie Batch should not start at quarterback and no we should not bench Rashard Mendenhall. Just wanted to clear that up.

As much as I talked about the Steelers playing really shitty I must say that the Texans [sort of] earned the win today. They made the plays when they needed to and they came up with the touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that the Steelers couldn’t. Sure, they tried to give the game away with horrible penalties but they still won the game. I still don’t know if I want to sell out and buy into them because and resemblance of an offensive line and we might be talking about another second half collapse of the Texans. Irregardless the Texans earned the win. They protected Shaub and created massive holes for Foster. They got to the quarterback and put themselves in good positions to win. They did what they needed to do.

Back to Pittsburgh to get ready for Tennessee. How you feeling Max and Flo? Just sayin.

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