Sunday, December 9, 2012

Poor Play And Coaching Lead To Steelers Defeat, 34-24

It's a good thing Ben, jr. won't remember his first NFL game. Ben, sr. would like to forget it too.

In a game where the return of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was supposed to inspire the offense, nothing was inspired. - http://tinyurl.com/b9emofu

On his performance and what went wrong Sunday, Big Ben said: "A little bit of this, a little bit of that. A lot of this, a lot of that. It was frustrating."

It should've been. He didn't exactly help his team early on in his first game after missing three games with rib and shoulder injuries. He now has a record of 3-4 in such starts.

He didn't get much help from his wide receivers, both Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown missed on big passes (one of which should've been a touchdown), or the offensive line in the first half, all of 25 yards rushing in first half, causing him to look even worse.

Big Ben was 9-20 for 105 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions in the first half. Steelers 2-9 on 3rd downs in first half also.

But he made two costly mistakes of his own early in the second half. Both happened deep in Steelers own territory and led to touchdowns.

A lateral bounced off of the helmet or back of tight end David Paulson and was recovered by the Chargers in the end zone. Although Brown should've just kicked it out of the end zone and suffer the safety, he tried to field it and couldn't. Result: touchdown.

Then, Roethlisberger was picked off at the Steelers' 17-yard line and the Chargers quickly converted that into a 15-yard touchdown pass by Rivers to 6'5" wide receiver Danario Alexander.

In a game also where the San Diego Chargers having Manny, Moe and Jack substituting on the offensive line was to have the defense's mouths salivating, they suffered from dry mouth.

Against men who were on practice squads and moving furniture last week, the Steelers managed just one sack. Also, the Steelers defense was third in the league on 10-play drives allowed this year. Then they go and allow a 17-play drive that resulted in a 20-3 deficit.

It was a completely pathetic showing. Maybe the worst Steelers performance at home since the December, 2006 loss (31-7) to the Ravens. And most pathetic showing against a bad team since something called a Tim Couch walloped them (33-13) in 2003. This after a majorly gutsy performance at the Ravens last week. Their inconsistency is disturbing. - http://tinyurl.com/aw2d4ma

The Steelers (7-6) simply laid an egg against a Chargers team that had lost seven of its last eight. Though the Chargers had been in every game and lost by an average of less than a touchdown, as we pointed out last week, this still shouldn't have happened. - http://tinyurl.com/akewovq

"In a lot of ways, we'll enjoy this win, but in reflection, we'll be sick," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We'll be sick we didn't find a way the last few weeks."

They shouldn't have this week, either. For some reason, the defense played soft on corners and got chewed up. Yes, their receivers are 6'4" and 6'5", but this week still should've been a press-coverage day.

Bottom line, the Steelers looked bad from the opening kick. As head coach Mike Tomlin said, they "coached poorly, [and] played poorly today." - http://tinyurl.com/apslzrs

Steelers linebacker Larry Foote offered up his assessment of their performance: "We lost. We got our butt whupped...a good ol' butt whupping. Why? I don't know."

You don't? Fellow defensive man Brett Keisel thinks he does. Keisel said he didn't think players were ready to play. "That's why we lost," he said. "The whole game felt out of hand. It didn’t really feel like we were in the game at all."

Cortez Allen agreed and added: "I feel like our enthusiasm wasn’t as high, our excitement, intensity wasn’t as high as it was previously in previous games."

Running back Isaac Redman said something similar: "We lacked enthusiasm. It showed on the field."

Yes, it did. Worse yet, they looked disinterested. Which raises a troubling question: If not now, when?

It's week 13 in a 17-week NFL season. When ARE you going to be ready and enthusiastic?

"Starting tomorrow," Foote answered, "we’ve got to correct this thing and start making a commitment. It’s going to be one of those gut-checking times." - http://sportstalk.triblive.com/content/chargers-34-steelers-24-postgame-quotes

"Tomorrow?" Allow me to quote Apollo Creed here: "THERE IS NO TOMORROW!" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC_1U7xgAeY

"Tomorrow" is a Training Camp or preseason word, not an end-of-the-season word. Now is not the time to find your identity. Nor is it a time to still fumble your timeouts and your game/clock management in general.

Tomlin's game management continues to be poor. We at If It Ain't Steel are Tomlin fans to be sure. He is a true leader and motivator of men. He knows the game and his players respect him. However, his in-game management is lacking. It is something he has to get better at going forward, especially if this team is to make any sort of run in the playoffs.

There were some things for the Steelers to hang their hats on to some degree. Things that can be positives as they head into the last few games. One was that the Bengals lost in the final seconds to Dallas, meaning that the Steelers and Bengals remain tied for the last playoff spot in the AFC.

The Steelers also stayed two games behind the AFC North-leading Ravens (9-4), who lost at Washington in overtime.

That isn't just good because the Ravens lost (that always feels good), but because, believe it or not, the division can still be won. With that in mind, the Steelers players know they have to take advantage. - http://tinyurl.com/at59rmn

Also, Big Ben is obviously healthy enough to move around in and out of the pocket. All told, he was 22-42 for 285 yards, three touchdowns and the one interception. He also ran 31 yards with a 6.2 YPC average.

All-in-all, it was a poor performance in every aspect of the game. Though Ben, sr. will have to endure watching it again in film study, I doubt he'll keep it on his DVR for Ben, jr.

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TIDBITS: INJURIES - Colon (knee), Clark (hip), Sanders (AC joint) and Troy (Achilles).

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Big Ben on fans booing Mike Wallace: "Nobody should ever get booed. We are out their busting our butt. Nobody intentionally does anything to hurt the team. I don't intentionally throw interceptions and guys don't intentionally miss blocks or fumble. We don't intentionally do it. I just told him that I was going to come back to him, and keep his head up and he made plays for us late." Wallace's interview and reaction to his game: http://tinyurl.com/amne6d5

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Though no one should care about stats in a loss, Big Ben is now the 25th quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 29,000 yards (29,151) and run for at least 1,000 yards (1,033) during the regular season.

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Steelers average starting field position Sunday was their own 19-yard line.

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Big Ben on why we didn't see Plaxico Burress more after his 18-yard catch on 3rd down: "Did you ask coach that?"

Unhappy QB?

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Wallace was pushed right in front of an official on the deep pass in the first half, but no flag. Per Jim Wexell, even the San Diego media was laughing at the no-call. *sigh*

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Today marked the 14th time Big Ben and Wallace connected for a touchdown of at least 40 yards, extending their franchise and near-NFL record.