Monday, November 28, 2011

Steelers Game 11 Recap - Steelers 13, Chiefs 9

As I said in the preview at the beginning of the season I thought that the Steelers would lose this game to the Chiefs. The Steelers don’t have a great track record in Kansas City and Arrowhead might be one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. Granted, if you watched the Steelers play last night you might say that they didn’t have a chance in hell to win, but you know what, they did. 8-3 feels real good right now and I don’t care how they got there.

Late games means a late recap and this one is going to be a little light as there really isn’t a whole ton to go over. The defense was pretty good, the offense was really bad, the Chiefs are really bad and Steelers fans bitch more after a win then they do after a loss. That is about as far as it goes. What matters the most is the Steelers won.

Thoughts:

-The Steelers defense hasn’t been overly great this season with a league low turnover margin and only forcing six over the entire season. Enter Tyler Palko and the Steelers reached double-digits. The Steelers picked off three passes and recovered a fumble in the first half and didn’t give up a touchdown the entire night. The Steelers came into the game giving up some of the fewest points in the NFL and they continued that trend by shutting down the Chiefs. Granted the Chiefs offense isn’t very talented, at all, but the Steelers have played some bad offenses this year and not created turnovers so this was good to see. A lot of people talking about how the Steelers defense can’t close the deal but if I am remembering correctly this is the second straight game where a big play has ended the opposing offense when they are trying to tie/win the game so I guess we can stop talking all that smack.

-The secondary picked off three passes which included a pick from Ike Taylor. Taylor is having a Pro Bowl season this year and while he hasn’t been outstanding the past couple of games he has been well above the line as Mike Tomlin might say. For the task he is asked to do he is excelling and he is worth every penny of the money he was paid over the offseason. Ryan Mundy also has had a really nice season this year being pressed into more playing time than he normally would have been with the injuries to Troy Polamalu. When TP went down with a head injury in the first quarter Mundy came in and made some big plays including an interception, the first of his career. Now, Mundy isn’t going to be able to do what TP does if he has to play next week but he is much improved from last year. Also picking off a pass was Keenan Lewis and his pick was the one that sealed the win with the Chiefs coming down the field for a potential game winning score. Lewis was one of those young gun corners that the Steelers have drafted that haven’t made much of their opportunity before this year but we are starting to see them pay off, especially for Lewis. What I thought was the best part about the game for Lewis was what he said after the game. When asked about the pick he said that in watching film he recognized the formation and knew the ball was going to come his way. It came his way and he made the play. Just hearing that he is learning and studying the tape and it is helping him make crucial plays is great. He isn’t just relying on the physical talent but he is going out there and making plays based on the work he has done all week, love it.

-Another guy who had a monster game for the Steelers was Jason Worilds. Filling in for LaMarr leyWood and fight back from his own injury and he has been getting better every week. He finished the game with six tackles, a sack and four of the five quarterback hits. Before the game he said that his first sack of the season was coming and he was right. Just a really solid game and starting to show what the Steelers saw in him when they drafted him. Obviously when Woodley comes back he will be starting and playing most snaps but it is nice to know that the Steelers have him there if they need him.

-The offense was pretty pedestrian all night starting with the ineptitude in the red zone where the Steelers only went 1-of-3 which consisted of a Mewelde Moore fumble on the three, a three and out after the Taylor INT from the seven yard line and a touchdown to Weslye Saunders early in the second quarter. The red zone run game was pretty bad and things just never seemed right. The Steelers were only 3-of-11 on third down and only had 18 first downs. They were held scoreless for the entire second half and the only reason they won is due to the terrible Chiefs offense. There were many problems with the offense all day that included numerous holding penalties, dropped passes and Ben being under duress. I don’t have the number of dropped passes off hand but Mike Wallace had two huge ones. On the field goal drive in the red zone he couldn’t come up with a pretty routine catch and then in the fourth quarter he ran right past a DB who was giving him a 10 yard cushion on a fly route and had the ball hit him right in the hands and drop to the ground. Not good. Ben was only sacked one time but he was getting pressured a lot by a Kansas City defense who hasn’t been that good at getting pressure all season.

-Going into the game the Chiefs ranked 27th in the league in run defense so going into the game it seemed like a prime opportunity for the Steelers to get the running attack on track. They didn’t do that but I actually thought the running game was pretty decent overall, especially Rashard Mendenhall. Overall the Steelers ran for 108 yards on 28 carries for a 3.9 yard per carry average and were led by Mendenhall with 17 carries for 57 yards. While those numbers aren’t great I thought Mendenhall had a pretty nice day and ran hard and picked up a lot of yards after contact. Sure it wasn’t flashy but I think he had the defense respecting the run enough to make it effective.

-Ben had a pretty decent game. It was great but it wasn’t bad, it was just decent. He threw a pretty brutal pick but he more than made up for it with some great play inside the pocket to get away from the pressure and create scoring chances. The Steelers didn’t have a great deal of success throwing the ball down the field and I am not sure if that was because of the thumb but Ben has never been great throwing the deep ball but as I said before the ball to Wallace was perfect and should have been caught but overall the deep ball wasn’t good last night.

-Those of you that want to rail on Bruce Arians need to just tone it down a notch. Last I checked BA didn’t drop any passes or hold any defensive lineman. Does he overdo it on the WR screens? Yea, he does, but this is a guy who has won two Super Bowls and gone to a third. Maybe he knows what he is doing? He might have got a little vanilla last night but if there was a list of things that were wrong with the Steelers last night BA might be #35 on that list. I think it is funny that people love to bitch at BA after a bad series or a few bad play calls but those same people are nowhere to be found when things are working. I am not a huge BA fan by any stretch of the imagination but he has done a pretty good job this year.

-To wrap this up quickly I have a few points that I wanted to make. The Steelers played a shitty game last night and there is no two ways about it. The important thing to realize is that the Steelers got the win. It wasn’t pretty but it doesn’t need to be. A lot of the mistakes that the Steelers made last night were fixable mistakes. By that I mean dropped passes and holding calls and burning bad timeouts. Those things can be fixed and through the season this hasn’t been something that has been a problem game in and game out. The Steelers, for the most part, weren’t getting beat on one-on-one plays so I think they will be alright offensively. The last time they played this bad offensively was against the Colts and I remember then playing pretty well after that so I am not all the concerned.

-The final thing I want to close with is how unbelievably upset a lot of Steelers fan were after the win. I actually looked at the standings and saw the Steelers were 8-3 but the way people were talking you would have thought the Steelers were 3-8. I just don’t get it, the Steelers have an equal record as any other team in the AFC but somehow this win was seen as a bad one. We don’t play in the BCS so style points do not matter. The other top teams in the AFC? The Texans are now down to its third string QB after losing the top two for the season, the Patriots were beat pretty handedly by the Steelers and the Ravens, who beat the Steelers three times, lost to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks. The Steelers are in as good shape as anyone so everyone just needs to chill out.

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