Monday, November 14, 2011

Steelers Game 10 Recap - Steelers 24, Bengals 17

Due to a prior work commitment I was unable to watch much of the first quarter of the game but as I followed it on twitter I see that maybe I should just stay away from the game and not watch it as the Steelers got out to a 14-0 lead. Fear not faithful readers, while I was not watching the Bengals were able to churn out 10 points and by the time I got to a local establishment the Score was 14-10 and it was a ballgame so you can’t blame be for this one!

Luckily for our health the Steelers held off the Bengals and even used a few interceptions to cap off the game and Steelers into its late bye week with a 7-3 record. I will take that. The offense was great at time and bad at times and the defense was the same old bend but don’t break defense that waits for the opponent to make a mistake and that is exactly what happened.

Typically if I get to watch the game I like to get the recap out the same night but seeing as the Steelers have a bye week I didn’t think you would mind much and watching the other games of the night with the Ravens and Patriots/Jets games where those outcomes couldn’t have turned out better for the Steelers. The Ravens loss gives them a half game lead in the AFC North and the Jets loss gives them one more conference loss (which is important because the Steelers hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots). Without further wait here are some quick points about the game.

While the game was close it didn’t look like that in the first quarter. The Steelers stopped in Cincinnati on two three and outs on its first two possessions and then scored two touchdowns with an eight and nine play drive, respectively. I don’t know if you can imagine how to start a game better than that, but I don’t. Further more there are a ton of people who love to bath Bruce Arians every chance they get but he sits down and scripts the first 15 or 20 games of the game like that they you have to give him some props don’t you? When the Steelers were struggling with the offense BA went to Ben and said that they were going to get the offense going. Stuff like that typically goes unnoticed but have one bad series and people want him fired.

Might as well touch on Ben Roethlisberger. I thought that Ben played a pretty good game and we are in the middle of his most complete season as a pro. His numbers aren’t going to jump off the page at you but when the Steelers needed him to make a play he was there to make the play. When the Bengals came back and tied the game at 17 he took them on an 11 play, 81 yard drive to give the Steelers a seven point lead that they would never give up. When the Steelers got the ball back with just over four minutes left in the game he didn’t give the ball back to the Bengals. He only threw one touchdown but he was much more effective than that. He did throw a pick but that was a perfect pass to Heath Miller that he basically caught and handed to the defensive back so I can live with that. He was 21-of-33 and completed 18 passes that went for first downs. His touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery was vintage Ben as he avoided the rush, extended the play and found Cotchery in the end zone. When the Steelers were in a fun they switched to no huddle and it got the team right back into a groove as Ben called the plays. Really nice all around game for Ben.

Overall I think the Steelers defense had a really nice game. As I said before this was pretty vintage for the Steelers defense as they were going to give up some yards and give up a few plays not giving up the big play and they are just going to wait for you to make a big mistake. So far this season the Steelers haven’t been forcing those mistakes and making teams play but that all changed. The Steelers forced an interception on a Will Gay tipped pass that Lawrence Timmons got to and then with just over four minutes left with the Bengals just out of the red zone Gay jumped a route and effectively ended the game. The Steelers haven’t been forcing turnovers all season but it was night for them to force a couple when they really needed to and shutting the door especially how they finished last season. After a terrible game last week Will Gay played a lights out game with four passes defended and was directly responsible for the two picks.

The defense wasn’t without its flaws though. The Bengals touchdown to AJ Green was really just a weird touchdown and I don’t really know how to categorize it. It was basically a chuck it up kind of pass and Green was double teamed with Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark and while Green went up to get the ball at its apex the tandem of Steelers defenders didn’t even jump. Honestly no idea what was going on. Really with this I am just nit picking. Outside of that play Ike Taylor not catching an interception and the occasional time they would let Cedric Benson loose for a first down run of eight it was a really nice game. Any time you hold your opponent to only 17 points you are doing some things right and you should win.

I thought Ryan Clark had a pretty outstanding game the previous touchdown notwithstanding. Clark was the team leader in tackles with eight and while he didn’t have an interception or a pass defended he really was laying some good hits and separating the ball from the receiver. It was a big point of emphasis from Ryan Clark himself that he was hurting his team with the personal foul calls and getting fined and that is something that he wanted to clean up and from my vantage point he really did that and had a really nice game in the secondary.

I know a lot of people think that Isaac Redman is the short yardage back and the only one that can get the tough yards but Rashard Mendenhall ran the ball really hard on Sunday and earned his two touchdowns. He only had 16 carries for 44 yards but found the end zone twice and both of those touchdown runs were getting yards after contact and wanting to get into the end zone more than the defense wanted to stop him. Last season Mendenhall carried the ball a lot of this season it has kind of backed off a little bit and that might be a blessing in disguise. The Steelers are going to have a fresh Mendenhall for the stretch run and if they can get things going this could be a scary good team.

Overall I was pretty impressed with Andy Dalton and AJ Green. Both of those rookies played pretty well and while Green was out with an injury for some of the game those two are going to be a huge factor down the line. They might not be as good as their record indicates but for those two to play as well as they have so far they really have to feel good in Cincinnati. In the recent past you could almost guarantee two wins from playing the Bengals but I don’t really think that anymore. Add in a pretty good defense to that mix and it will be another fun game to watch when the Bengals come to Hines Field in three weeks.

Remember when everyone was talking about not scoring in the red zone? Three of four Sunday. I will take that every day of the week.

I thought it was interesting after the game that Ben Roethlisberger said that the team was happy with the win they know they aren’t playing to their abilities and they can be a lot better and in a lot of respects that is going to be a good thing. If you remember the Super Bowl runs the Steelers were playing the best football at the end of the season through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. While the Steelers haven’t been great this season yet they have still been playing good football. When they do finally hit the stride they are going to be one of the best football teams in the league. While it might sound funny that it might not be terrible that the Steelers aren’t firing on all cylinders every week you have to realize that very few teams go through an entire season on the top of their games and I would much rather the Steelers get hot at the end of the season than at the beginning.

Well, we now have to wait a few weeks to see some Steelers. Sure the bye week sucks but the Steelers need it to get some rest and hopefully gear up for that stretch run. Not sure if I will have anything Steelers related up this week and I, like the team, need a bye week but we will see.

Here We Go.

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