The Pittsburgh Steelers blew opportunity after opportunity throughout this game. The Patriots won the game, but it was two missed field goals, an interception in the endzone and a touchdown called back that was the difference in the game. Coach Tomlin said their Margin of error was thin today, and too many mistakes were too much to overcome. Final score in Pittsburgh 27-16.
I guess one could take a lot away from this game that was positive. Many predicted a game in which the Patriots were going to run away and hide. (I said they could call their shot or name their final score) It almost looked like that after the Steelers blew an early opportunity in the red zone with an interception followed by giving up 2 touchdowns. Once the second quarter started, it was a different story. The Steelers were the better team during the second and third quarters. But they could not get into the endzone enough to come away with a victory.
Pittsburgh was without many starters on offense and defense. Cam Heyward is their best defensive player and a real run stopper on the line. Antonio Brown caught 7 balls for over 100 yards, but was injured in the second half and was largely a non factor after that point. Big Ben will not be back for several weeks and he was missed today, although Landry Jones played pretty well for a back up. There were some key drops and plays his receivers did not make. He also threw a great Touchdown pass, that followed up an interception.
Jones was not afraid to go deep as he went long a handful of times, completing a big one to Antonio Brown. As a whole, he did not play poorly. I dare say he played about as well as a backup could be expected to play in that situation.
With that said, the starters that were there, did not make enough plays for the Steelers to win the game. What they did do is play well enough to make you take a step back and say, if they only had the other starters, the game could have been different. Here is some audio from after the game.
When Tomlin was asked about Landry Jones performance, he said that he did some good things but reiterated that this was not about Landry Jones, it was about the team not making enough plays to be successful.
Defense: The line without Cam Heyward was largely unsuccessful in getting pressure on Tom Brady. Actually this entire season has been a bust for this defensive line. Without Heyward they can not stop the run so they have to go into every game relying on the secondary to bend and not break. To not give up the big play. All along, they have running backs running free through the line.
Ryan Shazier did well covering the Gronk when he was asked to. But for some odd reason, I just did not see him on the field that much. For a young talented player, he struggles with injury and playing time. He is by far the fastest and most talented guy in the linebacking core. He needs to be the best linebacker on this team and right now, he may be the most talented but he is has not taken that next step. Harrison is playing a limited number of plays and is finally showing signs of age. Timmons is largely an underachiever which leaves them really empty from the second level. So, if the line is not getting pressure, and the linebackers are not getting pressure…. To grab a quote from the Great Penguin Play by play guy Mike Lange “lookout Loretta!”
Offense: Let’s make this short and sweet. The Steelers have a lead in the North and the fact that all the teams are struggling is a good thing. With that said, if Roethlisberger is not going to play for what could be another month, it is possible this Steelers team will struggle getting into the playoffs.
Even with Le’ Bell running the ball, it does not matter. After their upcoming off week, They have Baltimore on the road then Dallas at home. They get a bit of a reprieve with the Browns and Colts. Yes I said the reprieve and the Colts because I do not think there is a QB and team more over rated than Colts and Andrew Luck. I do not think he knows how to win a big game or win in the playoffs. Regardless how much of a break they get, without Ben, this is a much different team.
Antonio Brown left with a quad but then came back. He was hobbled for the remainder of the game. He should be ready to go by the time they go to Baltimore next week.
As soon as Tomlin releases injury info, we should have it for you.
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