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Despite Playing Poorly, The Steelers Sneak Into The Playoffs

The Pittsburgh Steelers would come up with a big win today and get a lot of help from their old friend Rex Ryan in Buffalo to clinch a playoff berth.  That is the good that can be taken away from today.  The bad was obvious.  This offense, that was so prolific, continues to not play efficiently or effectively.  The turnovers are coming in gobs and Big Ben’s play has been underwhelming at best.  The Ugly is also obvious, second string running back DeAngelo Williams left the game with what looked like an ugly ankle injury.  There is no report as of yet.  When Tomlin was asked he said this: “don’t know the extent of that.”

When asked after the game about preparing for the playoffs, this is what Mike Tomlin had to say. “We have  to run the ball better than we did today in order to stay in this tournament, we have to take care of the ball better than we did today in order to stay in this tournament for any length of time.”  He has Never been more accurate than that.

When Mike Tomlin was asked about scoreboard watching:  “We were cognizant of it, We thought Steeler Nation in the stands did a great job of letting us know how it was going.” Tomlin also offered this up in response to the running back position. “(We are)Confident with anybody we have to call on next week.”

With that said, here is the main storyline from this game.  Big Ben played below the line this week as he would throw two interceptions in situations where he was over targeting Antonio Brown.   The Steelers would also have to deal with a fumble that turned into a field goal.  The fact is, if this team played anyone else with at least a half decent quarterback, they would have PROBABLY lost today.   The defense would play well enough early to keep the Steelers ahead, then they would take advantage of a quarterback with very little experience or talent and get some turnovers.

Pittsburgh would get another drop from Bryant and then we really did not see him anymore. Tomlin said he was one of the ones with bumps and bruises which is why he was out. Instead, they would get a nice game from Darrius Heyward-Bey.  Ben Roethlisberger would finish with over 300 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  The last two did not come till later as the Steelers defense starting to torture the Browns Austin Davis.

I had mentioned how poorly Ben played because  of the turnover situation.  He has played in 12 games and he finished with 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.  He had 3 touchdowns today to go with 2 interceptions.  Today’s play matched the season output, And it was against a 3-12 team with a bad defense.   If this Steelers team has any chance to move on, that has to change.

As far as the play calling today, Ben made some decisions to go deep in 3rd and 5 or 6 situations, just as he did in the weeks past. Some of these decisions have to do with the loss of Williams and their lack of a solid back up to the back up. With that said, Going deep is fine when he gets a particular defensive look on first or second down, but with the game still somewhat in the balance or in a crucial situation, he needs to think a little more realistically and conservatively.  The Big play is great, and a momentum booster even, but in a big moment sometimes all you need is a first down.  He talked after the game with regards to how they have to play going forward, then he said something interesting…. “We need to be perfect, we need to be great.” He also went on to say that he was going to meet with the team about that when they get back together.  I hope he meets with himself first about being perfect and great.   That would go a long way in curing the Steelers pains.

On a lighter note….

Ben was asked after the game about the fans letting them know what was going on in the Buffalo game and what he heard in the stands, “We heard some cheering, I was assuming there was a fight.  Like a Steelers fan was beating up a Browns fan.”  

The Steelers will have to wait till later tonight to figure out who they will play and where they will have to travel to next week.

 

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