Sunday, October 7, 2012

Steelers Game 4 Recap - Steelers 16, Eagles 14

Well, doesn't it feel good to get back into the win column? In the preview (which you should have read!) I talked about limiting LeSean McCoy and making Michael Vick beat you. The Steelers did that and Vick turned the ball over twice and the Steelers got the win.

It wasn't a pretty win and some might not call it a "good" win but in the end the Steelers are 2-2 and not 1-3. I know there are a lot of things that didn't go well today but in the same breath there were some things that went really well. All in all the Steelers got a win despite some really bad things and at least for one more week the Steelers season isn't over. The crazy thing is that the Steelers next game is in like five minutes. For that reason this will be a pretty brief recap as I will try to prepare to get a preview ready for the game on Thursday. Thanks NFL, you need to consult with me and fellow bloggers when you put together the schedule! /shakes fist

The Good:

- Ben Roethlisberger is pretty good at this game of football. I know I talk about it pretty much every week but Ben was really good again today and he is putting together maybe his best season of his career. He did it today with no help from his receivers and despite that he put together a comeback victory after the Eagles took a late 14-13 lead. With a 14 play, 64 yard drive that took up all the 6:33 that was left in the game Ben converted a 3rd and 12 inside his own 20 and then a 3rd and four to put the Steelers in field goal range. His stats were gaudy (21-of-37, 207 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) but his receivers dropped a ton of passes and the offensive line was called for holding on pretty much every other play to put the offense in long yardage situations. He did what he had to do and didn't turn the football over and got the Steelers the win. He was really good but he might not have been the player of the game if not for...

- Rashard Mendenhall. He came back for the first time since he tore his ACL last season and he looked outstanding. He ran the ball 14 times for 81 yards and a score and also caught a pair of passes for 20 yards. He was shifty and he was hitting the holes inside with force and gave the Steelers a much different dimension to the offense. The Steelers have been struggling in a big way with the run game but thanks to Mendenhall the Steelers more than doubled what they averaged on the ground with 136 yards on 31 carries. While I think Isaac Redman does an OK job he just isn't a guy that can really catch balls out of the backfield and doesn't have that explosive burst to get to the second level. Mendenhall does and he showed it today. In the past Mendenhall has been inconsistent which has to do with a lot of factors but you have to like what you saw today.

-If Roethlisberger or Mendenhall gets the game ball for the offense then Lawrence Timmons gets the defensive game ball. I have long been a huge fan of LT but he's been jerked around a lot moving around to different positions and never really getting settled but on Sunday he wore his big boy pants and was an absolute monster. This was probably the best he looked in a game in years and he was playing on another level. He finished the game with a pair of QB hits and nine tackles and even forced a few fumbles. Just a beast. The Steelers have struggled on defense and did a little bit today but he was far and away the bright spot.

- The final drive. The first couple of weeks the Steelers didn't get that final drive. It has been something that Roethlisberger has been known for. Being "clutch." The Steelers couldn't capitalize when they had the chance in week one against Denver nor could they in their last game against Oakland. Today they did. They got the score they needed and as I talked about before they made the plays when they had to. Do they make it harder on themselves than they should? Yea, they do. Does that make the result mean any less? Not in my book.

- Shaun Suisham. He knocked down all three field goal attempts he had today and killed the final one that clinched the win. I was not a huge fan of brining him back but he has been really good so far this season and I can't really complain. Today he was good from 20, 34 and 34 and while those aren't really distances that kickers should miss I think we start to take things like that for granted. We never really talk about kickers until they mess up but Suisham has been the man so far this season. Big ups.

The Bad:

- Penalties. The Steelers were penalized nine times for 106 yards. One hundred and six yards. That is a full football field worth of penalties and the Steelers are lucky that they got out of this game with a win. On the Eagles one scoring drive the Steelers were penalized for two 15 yard penalties for hitting head-to-head. They were by Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy and they were both penalties. I know some people don't agree with me on the Mundy hit but when you go to hit someone you can't lower your head and at the point of contact be staring at the ground. His shoulder hit first but helmets did hit. Penalty every day of the week. This is two weeks after Mundy was a part of two helmet-to-helmet hits. You just have to learn. Those penalties set up a touchdown for the Eagles. Can't do that stuff. Other penalties that killed drives were holding penalties which seemed like was twice a series. This stuff just has to stop if the Steelers want to be a contender. Unacceptable.

- The injuries. Coming into the game the Steelers were the healthiest they have been in a long time (including last season) but that wasn't the case coming out of the game today. Troy Polamalu came back from his calf injury but he had to leave the game after he re-aggravated that injury. It didn't good as he came off the field and he wasn't able to put any weight on his right leg coming off the field. This has been a reoccurring theme with Polamalu and you have to start wondering if we are getting closer to the end of the line than we initially thought with his career. On top of Troy being dinged up again LaMarr Woodley had to leave the game with a bad hamstring. That hamstring injury was what kept him out of action almost all of last season so this is not good. With the Steelers playing on Thursday you almost have to think they are out but the Steelers need these two guys in the lineup. Hopefully they are not serious but I wouldn't be shocked if they were.

- Late game defense. The defense again wasn't able to get a stop when they needed to. With the Steelers up 13-7 the defense allowed the Eagles to go on a 17 play, 79 yard drive that took 8:18 off the clock and resulted in a touchdown. Overall the defense wasn't terrible today as they caused some turnovers and shut down McCoy for the most part but these late game blips are becoming too much of a normal thing. Listen, I know the defense isn't going to be shut down like it used to but they need to get the big stop when they need it and not force the offense to have to score to get the win at the end of the game. Mike Tomlin had an interesting quote after the game when he talked about the win and he said "We had the ball last." That really tells you about how the Steelers defense has played thus far. Pretty good early but in crunch time when you need the big stop they are still coming up short.

- Dropping passes. The Steelers receiving core is probably the best in the league. I mean with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders you might not find a trio of receivers that can do what they do. They have been great so far this season but they have been dropping their fair share of passes and today it was bad. Brown lets a few passes go right through his hands and on another play Jerricho Cotchery caught a ball with nobody around him and fell on his own at the two yard line. The Steelers would settle for a field goal on that play and it could have killed them in the end. Sanders was targeted seven times and only had three receptions and Wallace was knocked for a huge penalty to negate a long Mendenhall run. It was all-in-all a pretty bad day for the receivers and a trend that we need to see stop. Brown had some trouble with the drops in the preseason and I didn't think anything of it then but it has been happening a little bit more than it did last year. Not a good thing.

There is probably some more things going on that I missed but to be honest I watched the entire game on my iPhone as I was working today so I didn't see particulars but these just are some of the things I caught. A win counts the same no matter how you get it so you won't hear me complain (too much) and the Steelers can work their way to a winning streak. Quick turnaround coming up.

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