Ah, another game and another mediocre effort by the Steelers. Coming into the game these teams were a lot the same in many ways. They both had 7-6 records and they both had quarterbacks who were playing well and both teams were pretty beat up. Overall both teams were average and when you have two teams playing each other with about the same skill level you are going to probably get a pretty entertaining game that didn't end the way the Steelers wanted to. It was an overall sloppy game from both teams and while both teams probably didn't really play their best game one of them had to win and that ended up being Dallas.
With a Ravens loss earlier in the day a Steelers win meant them getting within a game of the top of the division. In not getting a win it just drug down what has become a pretty bad conference that will still most likely get two teams into the playoffs. The Steelers are back to .500 and yet somehow they are in control of their own destiny in terms of the playoff picture.
What really lost the game for the Steelers today was mental mistakes. There were physical mistakes too but those are going to happen. The mental ones are really hard to take and while you can never point to one play and say it was the entire reason for losing a game but you can certainly look at them when there are multiple errors like that and put things together as to why a team lost.
Obviously most of you watched the game so I am not going to go into great detail about what happened. You all know that Ben Roethlisberger made a pretty poor throw in overtime and Mike Wallace basically just stood there and watched as Cowboys defensive back Brandon Carr picked the pass and then was on the ground, got up and ran the ball to the one. The Cowboys would have probably still won the game but that extra 30 or so yards could have made a pretty big difference.
Antonio Brown just continued to give people reason to bash the receiving core at how bad they have been collectively recently and Brown is going to take a lot of blame for the Steelers losing this game. He scored a touchdown to put the Steelers up 24-17 with a little over 12 minutes left in the game but the game changed after the Steelers made a stop in the following series Brown caught a punt and ran it back 22 yards to nearly the Steelers 40 yard line but he fumbled. The Cowboys go on to score the tying touchdown. Later the game the Steelers got the ball back from a punt and for some reason he doesn't come up to fair catch the ball and it costs the Steelers 17 yards. Rather than starting a drive at their own 37 with 2:54 left they start at their own 20. On the following drive it was 3rd and 26 after a pair of sacks and Roethlisberger dumped it off to Brown for an 11 yard gain and instead of staying in bounds to keep the clock running and forcing the Cowboys to use one of their final two timeouts he runs out of bounds. Just a bad game overall from Brown who we don't really see making these kinds of mistakes.
Roethlisberger had a pretty good game. The lasting imagine is going to be of him throwing the pick in overtime but he made some plays that really gave the Steelers a chance after a pretty bad first half. The big highlight of the game came with this touchdown pass to Heath Miller right before the half
Ben catch -
He did a nice job of doing his improv all night but at the end it wasn't enough. He didn't complete a ton of passes as he was only 24-of-40 but threw for 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns (with a pick). He had multiple drives to close out regulation to get into field goal range but just couldn't do it. We expect so much when he gets the ball in his hands and has a chance to win but it just wasn't meant to be today.
The Steelers really struggled to run the football today. They gained only 69 yards on 17 carries but that includes a 22 yard rumble by Isaac Redman. The Steelers really don't have an overly talented back and to be truthful they were pretty successful throwing the football with a banged up Dallas secondary but I don't think they would have done anything real special with ten or 15 more carries.
The defensive backfield was just beat up. On the first kickoff return of the game DeMarcus Van Dyke was lost to injury and later in the game Keenan Lewis had to leave with a hip injury. That left Robert Golden, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Curtis Brown and Josh Victorian on the field in the defensive backfield. I know there is always the "next man up" montra but at some point you are going to get burned. The Steelers did. The Cowboys have an outstanding passing game and Victorian was getting targeted all game and he just wasn't getting the job done. It was really tough to watch and to be honest I was sort of surprised that they were able to hold the fort later in the game when the Cowboys got the ball with a chance to win.
The tackling was just terrible. I don't even want to think about how many missed tackles the Steelers had in the game. I don't have enough fingers to deal with Victorian's misses himself. It has been something that has been there all year but it was REALLY bad today. An underrated reason why the Steelers lost.
There were some good things. They were few and far between but Heath Miller is just an absolute monster. He was targeted seven times today and caught every single one of them. He has been money all season and when the Steelers need a big catch he is there.
The Steelers fans showed up in droves today. I know a lot of them don't travel because they already live in the area but from the pictures that were coming in it was at least 50/50 split and there might have been more Steelers fans in the building.
The Steelers have really proved to be an average team. I mean if you haven't seen that yet then you must not be watching but it is hard to envision this team, even if they are fully healthy, being able to match up against a team like New England and Denver. Just hard to do. Right now they need to get two wins and get into the playoffs. Anything can happen then.
That is the thing about all this. I know this game wasn't meaningless and it would have been great for the Steelers to win but the Steelers control their own destiny. They beat the Bengals and Browns, both at home, in the last week and they get into the playoffs. Hell, they can still win the division if they win out and the Ravens lose out. Imagine that. The AFC is so bad this year.