Super Bowl XLV: The Day After

Just a few random thoughts that I had during the game and after the game:

Nick Collins Scores for Green Bay

  • Element of Surprise. The Steelers offense seemed to be as surprised as I was that the Packers chose to defer on the kickoff.  I certainly thought the Packers would want to put their powerful offense on the field to make a statement.  The Steelers went 3-and-out on the first drive; four-and-out on the second…then interception (pick six), field goal, interception.   Five possessions, 2 turnovers, 3 points.  After this miserable beginning, the Steelers scored 3 touchdowns on their next 6 possessions.
  • Pre-Snap Reads. I don’t think Roethlisberger did a good job making pre-snap reads or going through his progressions until the second half.  In the first half, Roethlisberger was 13-21 for 143 yards with 2 interceptions.  The second interception was a nightmare.  The Steelers went 5 wide with an empty backfield.  The Packers countered with their 2-4-5 look.  Green Bay had 9 defenders within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and 2 deep safeties.  I was hoping the Steelers would call timeout to get a running back on the field.  It didn’t happen.  Roethlisberger seemed to have pre-determined that the ball was going to Mike Wallace — no matter what.  As soon as Wallace cleared Sam Shields on a cross, Roethlisberger ripped it.  Jarrett Bush was waiting for the ball.  This particular alignment is designed to take away the short and intermediate middle.  A.J. Hawk had the underneath routes covered and Bush had the intermediate middle.  The correct read was over the top to Heath Miller, one-on-one against Nick Collins.  Easy for me to say.
  • Legursky Locks Down Raji. B.J. Raji was a non-factor in this game.  I hardly recall hearing his name called.  This came as no surprise.  Legursky is a strong, physical, and fundamentally sound player.

Mendenhall: One of Only 14 Carries

  • Chris Kemoeatu’s Big Plays. Chris Kemoeatu was a HUGE factor in yesterday’s game.  The Steelers right guard has a reputation for solid play, but also for overly aggressive nastiness that draws penalties.  He drew one penalty for illegally blocking B.J. Raji in the back.  Most importantly, however, he was beaten by Packers DE Howard Green on a bull rush in the first quarter.  Green powered through Kemoeatu, hit Roethlisberger and forced an underthrow which led to Nick Collins’ interception and touchdown return.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Kemoeatu was on the bench (presumably due to a minor injury) on the play where Rashard Mendenhall fumbled.  At the snap, I noticed that Ramon Foster was in at left guard and yelled, “WTF!!!!”  The Steelers tried a counter by pulling Legursky to the right: Ryan Pickett and Clay Matthews ate it up.  Both were unblocked and tore into Mendenhall before he ever got going.
  • Bracketing Heath Miller. The Packers took away Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite pass target.  Shannon Sharpe, host of NFL Network’s Playbook and a former Green Bay Packer, said this would be a decisive area of the game.  It was.  Miller was held to 2 catches for 12 yards.  He lost 3 yards on one of his receptions.  Roethlisberger missed a wide-open Miller at least once.  Miller was effective, however, in the running game.  He routinely executed great blocks at the point of attack against Clay Matthews and others.  He was also flagged for one holding penalty, which I thought was a terrible call.  It was the first play of the drive on which Roethlisberger was intercepted by Bush.  I don’t know that the call had any bearing on the game.  As a blocker, I’d give Miller an A.  As a receiver — not so much.
  • Turning Point. For me, there were several critical junctures in the game.  I believe the game boiled down to the failure of the Steelers OFFENSE to make plays.  Rashard Mendenhall only had 14 carries.  The pace and flow of the game was such that it was hard for him to get more carries.  He was also forced to leave the game when he suffered a knock in the nether regions on his collision with the camera man.  Ouch!  The Steelers closed the gap to 21-17 in the 3rd quarter after Mendenhall’s 8-yard touchdown run.  The defense forced the Packers to PUNT on three consecutive possessions. This is where the Steelers offense failed to finish the job — and the Packers defense won the game.

Matthews and Pickett Punch Mendenhall's Clock

  • Steelers Offense Stalls. On the first of these critical drives, Rashard Mendenhall was on the bench.  I think he took a knee to the stuff.  In his absence, Roethlisberger continued to struggle in the passing game and the playcalling was a bit too conservative.  The Packers aggressively attacked short stuff because the Steelers were not attacking deep and Roethlisberger was missing on deep passes.  Mike Wallace could have put the ball in the Red Zone had the throw been on target.  On the second drive, Mendenhall was back, but the Steelers tried to get cute and they threw an incompletion on 3rd and 2 from their own 21 yard line.  On the third drive, Mendenhall fumbled and the Packers rode that momentum to a 28-17 lead.  He never carried the ball again — no Steelers did.
  • TAKE A SHOT!!! On the play on which Rashard Mendenhall fumbled, the Steelers were facing a 2nd and 3 from the Green Bay Packers 33 yard line.  The Steelers had taken possession of the ball at the Packers 41 after a re-kick and a nice return by Antonio Brown.  I certainly understood that the Steelers wanted to do a bit of ground and pound…to reinforce the momentum…to be physical…and to simply do what they just did by running it in, but I didn’t like the decision to run a counter on 2nd and 3.  First of all, philosophically, I hate running wide on short yardage.  Second of all, there is no better down and distance situation in all of football than 2nd and short from deep inside your opponent’s territory.  The Packers would have had to defend the ENTIRE field.  It was a perfect time to take a shot.  First down was a perfect time to take a shot.  Mendenhall gained 8 yards on first down.  I was sure they would look deep to Miller or Ward or Wallace.  I had the routes all figured out in my head.  I was actually standing…calling out the play.  When they ran the ball on a counter with Kemo on the bench, I had a sense of DOOM that was fulfilled in gut wrenching fashion.  Mendenhall coughed it up on a play that, to my mind, should never have been run.  Pittsburgh was in a heavy formation.  The Packers should have been forced to deal with the pass here.  The Steelers true POWER POSITION on that play would have been to THROW the ball downfield.  This was markedly different than their decisions to get cute and throw on 3rd and 2.  Huge difference.  The Steelers didn’t play to the pressure of the moment.  In two big situations, they played counter to the pressure and put a greater burden on the offense than on the defense.
  • Packers Punt 4 Times in 3rd Quarter. Chronicles of the game will not likely recall that the Steelers defense was playing lights out for much of this time.  Packers receivers did drop a couple of balls during this stage, but the Packers offense was not effective through the air or on the ground until Mendenhall’s fumble at the end of the quarter.  In the third quarter, the Packers ran 13 plays for all of 36 yards.  And, the Steelers STILL could not take the lead.  That was the game.
  • Block that Kick. When the Steelers lined up with Shaun Suisham to try a 52-yarder, I was thinking, “Wow.  This is going to get blocked and returned for a touchdown.  This is bad.”  As it turned out, Suisham missed the kick.  The Packers went 3-and-out when they took possession and the Steelers tried again.  On the play before the field goal attempt, Roethlisberger was sacked by rookie Frank Zombo.  I was talking shit about Zombo right before the play.  I should have known then.  Zombo was solid all game long. The Steelers were on the 34 yard line of the Packers.  If you have 2 plays to get 13 yards from the Packers 34, you’ve gotta go for it.  They didn’t go for it.  I thought this was the only time where Mike Tomlin pulled in the reigns.  This move did not cause the team to lose, but a more aggressive tack here could have paid huge dividends.

“That was a terrible decision by me in hindsight,” Tomlin admitted. “That wasn’t even close.”

 

  • Ike Taylor is an Outstanding Cover Corner. Greg Jennings scored 2 touchdowns — away from Ike Taylor.  He beat Ike Taylor on one significant play, but it was Aaron Rodgers’ precision pass that was Taylor’s undoing on that 31 yard pass on 3rd and 10.  Rodgers’ completion extended the drive.  Instead of punting for the 5th time in the 2nd half, the Packers marched 75 yards on 10 plays and limited the Steelers to one final possession.  After Jennings’ catch, the Packers were in a great position to run down the clock and force the Steelers to drive for a touchdown.  For most of the game, however, Taylor was the equal of Jennings wherever they matched up on the field.  Taylor doesn’t make interceptions, but he is an underrated performer on this high profile defense.
  • Steelers Secondary Blues.  The Steelers defensive backs had one pass defensed for the game.  If the Packers didn’t drop as many balls as they did, the damage could have been far worse.  William Gay is still a nightmare matchup for the Steelers in man coverage — but he was matched up with Jordy Nelson on the first score of the game.  Pittsburgh simply has to get better cover corners if they expect to beat high octane teams like New England, New Orleans, and Green Bay in the next few years.  The Packers intercepted 2 balls and deflected five.  Big difference.
  • Brian Bulaga and Chad Clifton. Both players were solid yesterday.  Harrison and Woodley were able to get some pressure and some hits on Rodgers.  The Steelers had more sacks, hits, and knockdowns than most people probably thought possible, but overall, Bulaga and Clifton did the job.  Neither Harrison nor Woodley were able to dominate the game either through sacking Rodgers or by killing drives with holding penalties.  Woodley, Harrison and Ziggy Hood combined to get 7 hits on Rodgers.  It was a decent effort, but not a dominant effort.

Not Enough Moore

  • Trai Essex. What was Trai doing at left tackle, of all places, on the final two plays of the Steelers final drive?  Jonathan Scott lost his shoe!  Great!!
  • Take What’s There. On the final drive of the game, Roethlisberger passed up wide open check downs that would have moved the chains in order to force the ball down to Mike Wallace.  Sometimes, you have to take what’s there…not what you want.  Aaron Rodgers took what was there.  I thought that the Steelers would win the game, given their 6 point deficit, the time remaining, and their capacity to deliver in big moments.  Plays were there to be made.  The Packers made them…the Steelers did not.
  • All in All. The Pittsburgh Steelers had a tremendous season.  Coming off of last season’s 9-7 fiasco, it was hard to believe this team could compete for a Super Bowl.  I thought they’d finish 3rd in the AFC North and begin the serious task of rebuilding an aging defense.  Last year, I wrote an extensive 10-point piece on what was wrong with the team.  The Steelers addressed almost every single issue on the list — in one season.  In the final analysis, all that can be said is that the Steelers owners, coaches, and coordinators put the players in a position to win a winnable game.  That’s all you can ask for.

Aaron Rodgers: Super Bowl XLV MVP

 

29 comments

  1. Good write up. Didn’t watch the game, but your points match up with what I heard. I did see that Pick Six Ben threw when he went to Wallace and you are absolutely right that he already decided where he was going and apparently misread the coverage. Too bad.

  2. After watching the coach’s tape on Playbook, I’m more convinced than ever that even with the turnovers, the offense simply wasn’t sharp enough to win the game. The tape shows that receivers were open all game long. Reads were missed — and it’s not like the Packers front 7 got pressure on the QB. He was sacked once. They barely touched him.

    The irony is that the one player who might have effectively turned the tide in this game was dispatched based on his morality profile, while the player who struggled yesterday was retained in spite of his. Guys are entitled to have bad games, but this was a strange game. Looking at the secondary coverages and one-on-one matchups that were never exploited (for Wallace, for Randle-el, for Heath Miller, for Antonio Brown), it is a bit bewildering.

    I think next season is going to be very interesting. If Roethlisberger throws 30 touchdowns and goes for 4,000 yards, it will tell me all I need to know. He’s done it before — and if it happens again, I’ll just say, “Wow.” And it won’t be a reflection of surprise.

  3. Also, the Steelers ran 23 times for 126 yards. That’s 5.5 yards per carry. The problem being that they did it in fits and starts, and basically just forgot about the run after Mendenhall’s fumble early in the fourth quarter. It should have been a no brainer for the Steelers to continue to pound Green Bay’s defense. Sounds like pure Arians. Tomlin also deserves some blame for not reigning in Arians like it appeared he did in the AFC Championship game and made him use a more balanced approach.

    Ike Taylor really stepped it up this year. He’s by far one of the better corners in the league. He gave up one big play in the game. The rest of the Steelers corners though, have a lot of work to do. I loved McFadden’s game coming out of FSU. He hasn’t lived up to expectations, though. He has to change his routine so he can either stay healthy for a season (much less a game) or he’s going to probably have to watch out for the Steelers drafting another corner. William Gay was voted most improved player early in the season. He still has a long way to go.

    Troy and Ryan were almost invisible in the game. I know a lot of people are saying Troy was hurt, but I’d rather give GB and Rodgers credit for being able to hide his intentions of where he wanted to go with the ball. He kept Troy off balance all game. He and Ryan were out of position on some of the biggest catches by Green Bay receivers.

    I have to apologize to Doug Legursky. He kept Raji from having a significant impact. It really looked like as far as the center position was concerned, the Steelers didn’t miss a beat.

    Ben played like sh*+. That’s the best way I can describe this game. Throwing into double coverage, having trouble with the reads, locking into receivers, and on the last drive he looked like he was confused about running a two minute offense. (It’s been said that he loves it, because he’s allowed to call his own plays.) Glad that he took responsibility for the loss. It was in no way all of his fault, but he and (Arians) were a big part of why the Steelers aren’t celebrating bringing home trophy number 7 right now.

  4. Outstanding write up. You never cease to amaze me.

    Congrats to the Pack. They did what they needed to do to win. They converted 3 turnovers into three TDs. That’s what good teams do. As for the Steelers, Ben had a horrible game. I’ve never seen him miss so many open WRs since he’s been playing. Was it the pressure? I don’t know what it was, but he was not what we usually see out of him.

    IMHO, I think the Steelers overachieved this season. Coming into this season, I thought they’d win the AFC North (11-5), and make it to the AFC title game. I certainly didn’t expect them to reach the SuperBowl.

    I agree about the secondary: They must get guys in that can cover and run (Nnamdi? :-)). I didn’t realize how slow William Gay was until that Patriots game. They also need to think about drafting Polamalu’s replacement. These last 3 games, Polamalu has been absent. I wonder if that achilles injury is more severe than they’re admitting to. I’m also starting to wonder if Butler or Lewis should be converted to FS.

    Also, I think Dick LeBeau may need to call it a career. He’s made some very questionable/poor defensive playcalling this year. He’s been agreesive when he didn’t need to be and have been passive when he should’ve been agressive. Keith Butler is waiting but will he skip town to Pittsburgh-West?

    Overall, I think they have a very good nucleus in place at every position. They need to start getting younger and make the transition of grooming younger players. I think they’ll be fine over the next 5-7 years.

  5. So, Mendenhall fumbles. The Packers get the ball back and score a quick touchdown that makes it 28-17. The Steelers are now in a 2 possession game (which means they must allow no more than 3 points the rest of the game) with 11 minutes left.

    What did Pittsburgh do? They went 7 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Now, it’s a 3-point game with about 7 minutes remaining. Should the Steelers have run on THIS drive? I don’t think so. They needed to score quickly because they were down 11. The Packers knew they would pass, but they still scored. I give Roethlisberger and Arians credit for getting a touchdown AND a two-point conversion to cut it to 3. I thought that was outstanding football.

    Once the Steelers cut it to 28-25, the defense to do 1 of 3 things: get a turnover (that didn’t happen); get a 3-and-out or get the ball back quickly (that didn’t happen, either); or, hold the Packers to 3 points (check!!). One of the biggest plays of the game was Rodgers’ pass to Jennings for 31 yards on 3rd and 10. It was a PERFECT throw…and if Jennings doesn’t make that catch, the Steelers get the ball back — DOWN 3 with 5:59 remaining in the game. Do you really think they wouldn’t have run the ball down the Packers throats with a 3 point deficit and 6 minutes on the clock?

    So, what happened instead? The Packers had 7 more plays on the drive. They marched 70 yards in 10 plays before settling for a field goal. When the Steelers got the ball back, there were only 2:07 remaining. Keyaron Fox’ penalty backed them up to the 13 yard line. With one timeout, they could not have realistically run the ball on this drive either.

    Mendenhall’s fumble and Rodgers’ pass on 3rd down effectively ended the running game for the Steelers. If the defense could have gotten off the field with even 3 minutes left, the Steelers could have run or attacked the middle of the field on the final drive. I don’t blame Tomlin or Arians for how that played out. They did a great job, given what transpired.

  6. kos:

    The one area where I found fault with the Steelers offensive playcalling was on 3rd and short. During the game, they were 7-for-13 on third down — better than the Packers, but on 3rd and short, they failed to convert on 3 opportunities when they passed the ball. They were having success running the ball, but chose to pass each time and were stopped. Green Bay was lethal, though, on 3rd and long. All of their big plays were on 3rd down. All you had to do was find William Gay and you knew where the ball was going. They should have benched him to confuse Rodgers. 🙂

  7. GN:

    I hope you don’t overreact to the loss. The pass coverage problems, to my mind, reflect the drafting priorities of the team, rather than the schematic issues. I thought that the additions of Lewis, Burnett and Butler would have paid some dividends by now. They have not. Burnett and Lewis dropped INTs that would have put the Steelers in the post-season last year. Butler can’t get off the bench. I know the Steelers need DBs with size who can tackle, but they need guys who can run and catch. Perhaps they never get these guys because they don’t draft high enough, but whatever the case, the talent is not there on the back end. I wouldn’t put LeBeau out to pasture.

    Frankly, if someone told you at the beginning of the game that the Steelers would be in the same situation they were in vs. the Packers in 2009, I’d say 100% of Steelers fans would say, “Great, bring it on!” I expected the Steelers to score a touchdown on the final drive. However, I saw some things I’ve NEVER seen from them. Chaos in the 2-minute drill? I’ve never seen that. It made me wonder…just like the betting line made me wonder. On Playbook, Sharpe and company showed all the missed reads and missed throws — I haven’t seen that since the AFC Championship Game vs. New England. And it wasn’t the pressure. He was sacked once. The Packers barely touched him. Hell, the Steelers sacked Rodgers 3 times.

    I don’t believe the Steelers should or will overreact to this loss. The game came down to a handful of plays — as did games vs. Baltimore and the Jets. The team has issues (age on the defensive line, health and durability on the O-line etc.). I’m torn about the extent to which this team underachieved. I had diminished expectations, but the team has many of the same parts that won in 2008 — so this is a Super Bowl caliber team.

    Now is the time for a balanced perspective. The Packers need 3 turnovers to win by the narrowest of margins. They forced each one of those turnovers. They were smart and physical — and that decided the game. That’s not sufficient cause for me to doubt their capacity to return.

    As an aside: I doubt very highly that they lose this game with Santonio Holmes on the field — even with the Packers at full strength in the secondary.

  8. T3:

    The time factor explains the Steelers giving up on the run in the 4th quarter. It doesn’t explain them giving up on it in the second (desperation), but not in the third when they were straight killing the Packers defense, but then mysteriously decided after Moore got them to around the 45 to try to pass for the next 5 plays. That’s the drive where Suisham completely shanked the kick.

    At this point, I’m willing for Limas Sweed to try to become a nickel back. 🙂

  9. The first drive of the 3rd quarter was all rushes — and it led to a touchdown.

    I totally agree with you. I thought they lost the game in the 3rd quarter — on offense. The Steelers forced the Packers to punt four times. They should have punched it in at will, but they got cute.

    Second 3rd quarter drive: The Steelers passed on 5 consecutive plays — after Mewelde Moore (pictured above) delivered that hellacious stiff arm. The drive ended with a sack and the field goal miss. (I think Mendenhall was actually injured on this drive.)

    Third 3rd quarter drive. Drive ended with a short pass to Wallace on 3rd and 2. Mendenhall was back for that drive, but I believe they went empty backfield on this play. This was not a good idea — from jump street.

    The next drive ended with Mendenhall’s fumble. Now, here’s the paradox: as I said up top, RM fumbled on 2nd and 3. The Steelers ran a counter with Kemo on the bench. To me, they should have chucked in into the endzone.

    These 3 drives, together, decided the game. The Steelers defense was on fire (and the Packers were dropping balls…footsteps?). 13 plays, 36 yards. It was the biggest window of the game. Pittsburgh managed ZERO points. Hats off to the Packers.

  10. Ike can barely catch. lol At least Sweed might finally be of some use! Besides, you know we have to take a dig at Sweed every once in a while!

  11. True. He tore his Achilles heel. That’s the last thing we need in the secondary. The Steelers could have drafted Terrell Thomas from USC instead of Sweed or Jermichael Finley!!!! That would have been NICE!!

    It will be interesting to see the Packers next season — with Grant and Finley on the field. Just as it will be interesting to see the Saints with a healthy Pierre Thomas and/or Reggie Bush.

  12. What will be more interesting will be our analysis of the NFL Draft – Steelers picks this year. It seems like the bras wasn’t too worried about getting the D-line younger last year. That can’t happen this year. The line needs more younger bodies besides just Ziggy Hood. Also, I think a corner to go beside Ike and maybe challenge McFadden might be in order. At the very least, someone that can bury William Gay on the bench when teams only have 3 WR’s on the field.

    Didn’t realize Ike is a free agent. As soon as the CBA mess is over, the Steelers are definitely going to have to offer him some green. Also Willie Colon, Trai Essex, Legursky, Dennis Dixon, Moore, Woodley, Sepulveda, Eason, and William Gay. You can bet that of all of the players on that list, Woodley is the other person besides Ike that definitely gets paid.

  13. kos:

    I don’t know what to say. I just do not like William Gay AT ALL as a football player. I just can’t stand it when he’s on the field. I know teams are coming after him and he seems to ALWAYS get beat. He didn’t get his hands on a single pass Sunday — and he never seems to. He did play solidly earlier in the season, but the matchups were favorable then.

    McFadden’s gotta go, too. I was all for him coming back, but he’s not getting any younger and he’s not going to get more durable. It’s time to end both of those experiments right now. Either Lewis and Butler are the in-house guys or its time to go outside of the house. In this day and age, elite DBs simply aren’t on the board after the 2nd round.

    I thought the Steelers had a very good draft last season. The real payoff may be in a year or two when Worilds and Sylvester are playing regularly. 2009 was excellent as welll. Getting Hood and Wallace (in the 3rd round) was great. I even like David Johnson as a blocker – sometimes. The offensive line aspect of that draft was a total bust, though. What the heck happened to Urbik and Shipley?

    There is a very good chance that Patrick Peterson will be playing in the AFC next season (Bengals/Browns). He’s going to be an excellent 4-down player.

  14. Keep Colon, cut Essex, keep Legusrky, Dixon, Sepulveda. Cut Moore, Eason and Gay. Woodley!!!! That’s the man. He may retire as a Steeler. Not easy to do, but he might get it done.

    I can’t see this defense making another long run like that — unless they get 2 new guys on the front line and on the back line. The linebacking corps is fine.

  15. kos:

    Help me out here. I was thinking that if the Steelers would have had any success against this team, they needed to go with a 3-deep defense, mixing man and zone underneath. So, I’m thinking Hampton, Hood and Keisel anchor the line (2 at a time, with one rotating); Harrison and Woodley bring pressure on the outside. Those four would be responsible for rushing the passer and containing the run. Farrior and Timmons are OUT. Packers go four wide — and you have 7 DBs covering four wide receivers. Polamalu goes from slot to deep 3 to mix it up…Same with Ike Taylor. Sometimes they blitz, sometimes they don’t.

    Bottom line…4 DBs are locked up in man or aligned to jam and drop into zones…with 3 guys over the top to deep guys from getting beat deep on double moves or slants, etc. I didn’t see much of that at all. In fact, I’m not even sure the Steelers had enough guys to do that. Taylor, McFadden, Gay, Polamalu, Clark, etc.

    The Steelers should have been able to get pressure with those 4 guys. The issue in that scenario is Rodgers running — but if Taylor and Polamalu can blitz from the slot, you take away a lot of his flexibility there. Thoughts?

  16. T3 –

    I love the idea. However, with the db’s that the Steelers have, I can’t see it working very well. The Steelers don’t do an aggressive bump & run full time, so I could also see that being a problem for many of them, similar to the slants from the slot that Tomlin told his players that would be coming. Some of those guys who aren’t used to playing a safety position would probably get confused by the coverage and leave gaping holes on occasion, but you’d probably take your chances. You’d end up with the same problem of Rodgers picking on William Gay in the end if the protection is good or the people underneath don’t get a good jam.

  17. I agree. I guess I was thinking that the worse case scenario of this defense is that you don’t have guys running through zones for 30 yards on 3rd down…but you could.

  18. GN brought up an interesting point. The Steelers need a corner, and Nnamdi Asomugha will be available once the CBA is straightened out. My question is, what do you think the Steelers chances of getting him are? Do you think he’d take a huge pay cut for a chance to go to a team that can still compete for the Super Bowl? I know the Jets are gunning for him, too.

    If the Steelers were lucky enough to get Nnamdi, then with him and Ike locking down the two outside WR’s, it would free up Troy and Clark to make plays underneath. It would make the defense even better because we all know that coverage isn’t the Steelers’ safeties strong point.

  19. I doubt that Nnamdi Asomugha would take a pay cut to come to the Steelers when he could likely earn more with the Jets. I also believe that his social activism is better suited to New York than it is to Pittsburgh. Given that, it makes more sense for him to seek out a partnership with Revis.

    Also, it bears repeating, as much trouble as the Steelers had covering the Packers wide receivers, that defense STILL forced the Packers to punt on 6 of 12 possessions. The Packers were given 2 “extra” possessions by Steelers turnovers. And, even with all of that, the Steelers STILL had the ball with 2 minutes to go.

    Do the Steelers NEED Nnamdi? Nope. Would he help their cause? Sure. My preference would be for the team to report that Lewis and Butler have made TREMENDOUS strides in the off-season and that they provide the type of coverage that Shields and Williams did for the Packers. I’d prefer to see them get some young guys with WHEELS who can get it done.

    For my money, retooling this secondary is a long-term fundamental project which requires the same degree of attention that has been paid to structuring depth at the linebacker position.

    Nnamdi will turn 30 in July. if the Steelers could get him at a discount, I’d be all for it. Heck, I might even buy his jersey, but my preference would be for the LIGHT TO GO ON with the guys who are already in house. Lewis and Butler need to step up and make it happen. Or, they need to strike gold in the draft.

    The fact of the matter is that William Gay was a 5th round draft pick. He has VASTLY OUTPERFORMED his draft position. The team needs to go high again (1st or 2nd round). The opportunity was there when Sweed was selected. (That selection may haunt the franchise for a decade.) Lewis is a 3rd rounder — if he ever develops into the type of cover guy that DeShea Townsend was, I’d be pleased. I liked Butler in pre-season. I’m not sure why he didn’t get more playing time. The defense is difficult to learn, but he showed good wheels and excellent tackling (even though he had a rep for not tackling in college).

    Whatever they do, they need to get this fixed because they may not have the Jets or Ravens to rely on to defeat the Patriots and their spread offense. While the Colts and Chargers don’t scare me in the least, the Packers, Patriots and Saints all beat the Steelers by spreading them out. Only a fool would deviate from that blueprint if they have the pieces. This has to be fixed.

  20. Do you ever wonder why Roethlisberger didn’t win the MVP award after making that throw to Santonio in Super Bowl XLIII? I think that was the first time that a QB played like that and didn’t snare the award. They gave it Manning in ’06 and all he did was hand the ball off to Addai and Rhodes.

    I guess if the Steelers had managed to win that game, Ward or Wallace (whichever one caught the final pass) would have won the award. PR nightmare averted.

  21. Manning is one of the league’s poster boys. I said after that Super Bowl that Rhodes and/or Addai should have won MVP.

    I always thought it was a function of Ben playing for a team known for defense and a running game more than throwing passes. If you look at the Super Bowl MVP’s that weren’t QB’s since 2000, only the 2004 Patriots (Deion Branch was the MVP of that Super Bowl) didn’t have a great (top 5) defense. 2000 Ravens (Ray Lewis), 2002 Bucs (Dexter Jackson), 2005 Steelers (Ward), and the 2008 Steelers (Holmes), every one of them was known for having a great defense during the regular season.

    For the record, there was no chance that Ben would be winning the Super Bowl MVP. The press definitely would have picked a receiver again before they’d have picked Ben. Or maybe I’m just looking too far into it. Maybe the press just really loves Steelers WR’s in the Super Bowl! 🙂

  22. kos:

    Upon further inspection, the biggest play of the second half may have been where Roethlisberger missed Wallace for the touchdown vs. Peprah. Man, that would have really changed the game. Down 21-17, Mendenhall had scored from 8 yards out on the last possession, and Harrison had just sacked Rodgers on 3rd down forcing a punt. They had all the momentum in the world. A touchdown there puts them up 24-21 and allows them to really get the play action passing game going. The pass was overthrown and behind Wallace. It was an awful throw actually…reminiscent of the one that he missed to Heath Miller vs. the Jets where Miller landed at the 3 yard line.

    I’m rolling with that as the biggest play of the game — after the interceptions in the first half.

  23. I remember that play. Yeah, that was a crucial bad throw. Had that throw would have been successful, it would have opened up more running and play action passes. Also, the defense probably would have gotten a charge. I don’t know if you saw after those interceptions how the cameras would go to the Steeler’s defense on the bench. Those guys looked disgusted! I’d still argue that some of the biggest plays were the third downs conversions that lead to td’s where William Gay couldn’t guard any Packers receiver.

    That throw was also unusual because Ben usually underthrows Wallace. What’s amazing to me, is after two years of being with him, how often Ben comes up short throwing to Wallace. I don’t think that Daunte Culpepper ever had as many overthrows of Randy Moss when they he first got the starters job.

  24. The thing about that throw that confuses me is that he had a lot of options. He could have laid it up toward the front post or the deep corner of the endzone — both were wide open. He could have thrown a dart toward the sideline. There was NO PRESSURE on the throw at all. It was a perfect call and everyone’s execution was perfect except for Roethlisberger. The blocking was stellar. The Packers were fooled up front and on the back end.

    ARIANS called a GREAT PLAY. It’s hard to kill Bruce for the game he called. I don’t think the Steelers had any intention, whatsoever, of getting away from the run. This play reminded of baseball — when a guy drives a long foul ball that just misses being a homerun — it’s the LAST good pitch he sees that at-bat — He doesn’t homer, and often strikes out due to the frustration of missing so closely on the foul ball. That’s what the Steelers did. They missed the home run pitch, then punted.

  25. The other thing I noticed during the game was that the Steelers running game actually forced the Packers into a 4-4-3 alignment in the 3rd quarter. On one play early in the 3rd, the Packers rolled with 4 down linemen and 4 linebackers.

    After seeing that on the replay, I had to turn it off. That alignment from Capers was the equivalent of a surrender. The Steelers should have pounded the Packers into the turf — but they needed the lead to finish the job. That throw cost them the lead with 6 minutes left in the 3rd.

    As well as the defense was playing at that time (4 forced punts in the quarter), I suspect they could have led 31-21 going into the 4th. Oh, well.

    That’s part of the reason why I don’t believe this game is worth overreacting to. There is no need to scrap the franchise plan. Just get rid of William Gay!

  26. kos:

    I don’t think the Steelers will pursue Asomugha because he’ll want a ton of loot and the Steelers will need to make sure that Ike and Woodley is taken care of. However, I do think that they’ll make a push for Johnathan Joseph or even Antonio Cromartie. They’ll need a quick fix to heal that hole at CB because McFadden nor Gay is the answer. I’ve heard some good things about Crezdon Butler and i’m anxious to see what he can do. I expect him to see a lot of playing time in 2011. Look for Gay to be playing elsewhere in 2011.

    The Steelers will almost certainly draft a DB in the first round. I would like to see them grab either Jimmy Smith or Aaron Williams, but i’m not sure if either will fall down to #31. I think both of those guys could play right away.

    T3:

    Champ Bailey is a FA as well. Would he consider playing for a SB contender for less money? He’s still a top 5 DB and I think he has a few good years left on those legs.

    What sayest thou? 🙂

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