View Full Version : Steelers offense out of sync despite victory

11-29-2011, 06:06 AM
Steelers offense out of sync despite victory
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

That Steelers passing offense that was peaking in time for the stretch run hit some turbulence Sunday in Kansas City that hinted it may not be quite ready for prime time.

The cohesion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was building all season with his young receivers seemed to evaporate overnight at Arrowhead Stadium. Dropped passes, overthrows, indecisiveness and general disarray somehow coagulated into a 13-9 victory that happened only because the Chiefs offense proved to be much worse.

"You're happy to get the win, but also disappointed with how the offense played," said Roethlisberger, whose streak of 200-yard passing games ended at 18 when he threw for 193 yards.

Roethlisberger played his first full game with a right thumb that was broken two weeks earlier. The quality of his passes did not seem to suffer, but he had trouble finding open receivers.

Mike Wallace, who was on pace to set a Steelers receiving record, caught just two of the six thrown his way for 17 yards. Checkdown throws were the order of the day. Eight of the nine players who caught passes gained 25 yards or less. The one bright spot: Antonio Brown again led the team with 81 yards on four receptions.

"It was one of those nights," said Wallace, who has 209 yards receiving in the past four games, off a sizzling start that had him on pace for close to 2,000 yards. "I've been getting open, we just haven't connected for some reason. We'll get it right. We still have five more weeks to get it right. We got the win, that's the most important thing; that's the only thing really that matters."

The passing game looked disjointed against the Chiefs and perhaps all that shuffling of personnel at receiver had something to do with it. In Cincinnati, coach Mike Tomlin made what should have been a difficult choice of pulling out of the lineup the franchise's most productive wide receiver and making him No. 4 behind Wallace, Brown and Jerricho Cotchery.

Two weeks later -- after much debate by the public and many questions put to Ward -- Ward started in Kansas City, played much more than Cotchery and tied Brown with four receptions, although for only 21 yards.

Emmanuel Sanders rejoined the group after missing two games with a knee injury. Cotchery hardly played, had one pass thrown his way and no catches. Many different pairings were used against the Chiefs when the Steelers deployed two, three or four wide receivers. The constant was Brown, who has 276 yards in the past three games, 343 in the past four. Brown has 707 yards on 48 catches and is fast gaining on Wallace, who has 939 yards on 55 receptions.

How does Roethlisberger build rapport by pulling receivers this way and that when injuries do not prompt them?

"I've been saying that we've been steadily improving every week," Roethlisberger said. "I think we had our first setback. I don't think it's anything to panic over. It's one game against a good defense in a hostile environment. We'll go back and look at it and evaluate it and get better. I honestly believe we will."
Mundy shines vs. Chiefs

Ryan Mundy has been a backup safety with the Steelers since they drafted him in the sixth round in 2008 and he made their roster in '09. He has played in 43 games and started two. He played his best Sunday night.

Mundy replaced Troy Polamalu, who left the game for good on the first series with more "concussion-like symptoms." Mundy went on to unofficially lead the Steelers with 10 tackles and had one pass defense and his first NFL interception. He also added a tackle on special teams.

"The game Ryan was able to come in and play was amazing -- a ton of tackles, an interception," said free safety Ryan Clark. "So we didn't miss a beat there. We gave up nine points and I think we played well as a defense."

The Steelers had no update Monday on Polamalu's condition.

"I don't know at this juncture if it was a concussion," Tomlin said after Sunday's game. "I want to be clear there."
Woodley close to returning

LaMarr Woodley, who was leading the AFC with nine sacks at the midway point of the season, missed his third consecutive game for the first time in his career, but might be ready to resume playing Sunday against Cincinnati at Heinz Field.

Woodley has a hamstring injury.

"He has run a little bit all of these days but he wasn't well enough to play," Tomlin said in Kansas City. "It was the final decision that we came to, we'll go through the same process again next week. Obviously he's getting close."

Jason Worilds made his third start in Woodley's absence at outside linebacker and came up with his first NFL sack, the only one by the defense against the Chiefs.

"I thought Jason did a good job," Woodley said. "He got held a lot and didn't get the calls, not that that's anything unusual."

Woodley ran before the game in Kansas City and said, "I was running pretty good. I'm taking it one day at a time."
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.

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11-29-2011, 10:02 AM
I believe we can beat Cincy at home without Woodley. I'd rather see him get ready for San Fran. I don't see the Ravens losing more than 1, even if any at all. We very well could be a 13-3, #5 seed - which is so strange