Monday, September 29, 2014

Steelers Game 4 Recap - Buccaneers 27, Steelers 24

Just an absolutely awful football game. When the game was kicking off I had someone ask me how good Tampa Bay was and I said they were awful. This isn't me trying to rub more salt in the wound, that is just the reality. If you read the preview or even looked at anything about this Tampa Bay team you come away thinking they might only win one or two games this year. They beat the Steelers for their first win this season and here we are. Tampa might win only a few games this year and if the Steelers miss the playoffs (playoffs, right) by a game then this is the game you point to. It is true that any team can beat any other team on any given week, but this is/was a brutal loss. The Bucs are a professional football team but they aren't a good one. Woof.

The Steelers were up four points with 1:44 to go and they had the ball. One first down and the game was over. Run, pass, run and the Steelers punted the ball back to Tampa Bay. The punt wasn't good, at all, but Tampa Bay still had to score a touchdown and go 46 yards in only 40 seconds with no timeouts. All the Steelers needed to do was keep the ball in front of them and they could get by with an [ugly] win. Instead Louis Murphy catches a pass on second down and goes 41 yards to the five yard line. Two plays later the Bucs take the lead for good. Just absolutely inexcusable to let Murphy get that deep. I am not even talking about the catch, let him make the catch, but you have to have like six guys around him to tackle him in the middle of the field. He broke I think two tackles and had guys diving at his legs as he ran to the five yard line. Just can't happen.

This is becoming a weekly theme but the Steelers give up massive chunks of yardage thanks to penalties. They were flagged 13 times (!!!) for 125 yards (!!!). That is essentially giving up a full field and a quarter. You are giving up points by being selfish. The penalties were of all varieties too. There were unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to fall starts, to holdings, to face mask there is just too many to name. Maybe the players should not showboat at every chance and save themselves 45 yards of penalties. Maybe Mike Tomlin can say something, anything, about being so undisciplined. Then again maybe they are doing this on purpose. Maybe they are trying to deflect from the fact that they are getting beat at most positions on a consistent basis. Maybe the holding the mental penalties are because they are overmatched. Whatever the case it is truly inexcusable. It has been happening every week since the season started and something needs to happen or this is a 10 loss team.

The Steelers just can't put together a full game. It seems to be impossible for them to do. Tampa Bay had only 64 first half yards and outside of a touchdown via a Ben Roethlisberger fumble the Steelers dominated the game. The second half the Steelers defense must have still been in the locker room. Tampa Bay gained 286 yards of offense. It's not like this was Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, this was Mike Glennon. When Glennon has to throw the ball 42 times you should win the football game. They didn't. Glennon picked on the Steelers secondary in the second half and made them look foolish. Thank God the Steelers don't have to play Peyton Manning next week.

In the win over Carolina the offensive line really played a good game. The best one of the season and I was actually hoping that could continue going forward against some not-so-good teams and they could keep building confidence and start to gel together. That all went out the window against Tampa Bay. The Bucs recorded five sacks and were all over Ben Roethlisberger all day. The offense still put up yards and played pretty well but getting your franchise quarterback hit every third play isn't a good look. The Bucs are pretty good at getting to the quarterback but at some time Kelvin Beachum is going to have to quit being a turnstile and get in front of someone.

There were some good things from the game. Roethlisberger was pretty great. He was getting hit on a consistent basis but was still able to throw for 314 yards and three touchdowns and was making big throws all day. It is a bit discouraging that the Steelers didn't let him throw the football at the end of the game. I realize that Tampa Bay had one timeout and an incompletion would stop the clock and allow them to keep the timeout but they were expecting run. A pass is much more risky but with Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Heath Miller having great days catching the ball you have to let your franchise players make a play to win the game. I don't have a problem with Todd Haley and how he calls games (I might be one of the few) but in that instance I want Ben to have the ball.

Antonio Brown is weird for me. He had a really outstanding game with seven catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns but some of the stuff he does just drives me nuts. The extracurricular stuff especially. He got a 15 yard celebration penalty after his first touchdown and I just ask myself why. I have no problem with celebrating after a score but at what point is hurting your team with a 15 yard penalty worth the celebration? It would be different if this was a one-time thing but this is something that consistently happens with Brown and it is maddening. The same can be said for Bell, who had a 15 yard penalty after a long run. Why negate the yardage gained by jawing with someone on the other team. I get the emotions of the game but at some point this petty stuff has to stop. Anyways, both Brown and Bell played great games. Bell was especially good in the passing game, again, with six catches (on seven targets) for 46 yards while rushing for 63 yards. The duo is doing big things I just wish the stupid penalties would stop.

Heath Miller really hasn't been himself this season. He's been dropping more passes and not catching a lot of balls but Roethlisberger targeted him early and often. He finished the day with 10 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown in 11 targets. Another weapon in the passing game won't hurt, that's for sure.

Tomlin's clock management is just terrible. This isn't anything new but in the two minute drill it seems as if the Steelers think they get extra time or that they don't practice the two minute drill. Maybe they don't, but I am pretty sure they do. Awful clock management and wasting timeouts and challenges are just part of Tomlin's game and something I wish he would get better at.

Obviously the bad far outweighed the good in this game. It was a tough second half of football to watch. The Steelers had plenty of opportunities to put this game away but they couldn't get out of their own way. The penalties and missed opportunities (Brown dropping what would have been a touchdown pass on a flea flicker) just did them in. There are so many people to place the blame with that it is impossible to just say it is one thing. They weren't good enough yesterday against a bad team and while they have two more wins this year than they did at this point last year it doesn't make the loss any better.

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