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Old 12-20-2010, 05:53 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Steelers Report Card: Game 14 vs. Jets

Steelers Report Card: Game 14 vs. Jets
Monday, December 20, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


It looked as if Ben Roethlisberger might engineer his 24th winning drive with a 92-yard march, but he failed to score on three plays from the 10 to end the game. Roethlisberger's totals weren't pretty, but he made a number of plays to get them in position for a last-second victory. He converted four third downs and was 6 of 9 for 60 yards on a 96-yard scoring drive, but it wasn't enough.


Rashard Mendenhall had his first 100-yard game at home since the season opener against Atlanta and averaged 5.9 yards per rush. Couple that with Roethlisberger's two scrambles for 25 yards and the Steelers finished with 147 yards, their fourth highest total of the season. But they didn't do enough to take advantage of Mendenhall, who had 43 yards on eight carries in the first half.


Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders each had seven receptions and made several big third-down catches on the final drive, none bigger than Sanders' 29-yarder on third-and-24. Tight end Matt Spaeth started his second game in a row and had a 9-yard touchdown catch. Hines Ward had only two catches for 34 yards, but both came on the 96-yard scoring drive in the second quarter.


In a game in which the pass protection was as good as it has been all year and the running game averaged 5.9 yards per carry, it was a safety on a missed block by left tackle Jonathan Scott that ended up being the difference in the game. No holding penalties for a change, but right tackle Flozell Adams took an unnecessary 15-yard personal foul penalty that ended up hurting the Steelers field position.


The Jets didn't have a run longer than 11 yards, but they finished with 106 yards on 27 attempts -- the most by an opponent this season. More important, they converted four third-and-short situations in the second half, two each on scoring drives after trailing, 17-10. Defensive end Brett Keisel batted down two passed at the line -- one of the few times the Steelers deflected a pass against Mark Sanchez.


The Steelers could not generate enough pressure on Sanchez, who was sacked only once, and were often caught out of position on his play fakes. Shame on them for getting fooled twice in short yardage on the same drive, especially on Sanchez' 7-yard scoring run in which he ran untouched down the left side. The lack of pressure kept Sanchez from forcing throws into coverage and having interceptions.


The unit could not make a big play, which is what happens when you are without Troy Polamalu. The only player in the secondary to get a hand on a Sanchez pass was Ryan Mundy, Polamalu's replacement, but he also missed two key tackles, including a sack on third-and-9 that kept the go-ahead FG drive alive. Bryant McFadden never saw the ball on a 38-yard pass that set up a field goal.


It is never a good thing to allow a touchdown return on the opening kickoff, but the Steelers did -- their first this season. The kickoff coverage had not allowed a return longer than 49 yards this season. But the punt coverage wasn't much better, allowing returns of 19 and 13 yards. The same could be said for the return units, too -- Antonio Brown averaged 14.3 yards on four kickoff returns.


The special teams collapsed for the first time this season and the defense was fooled too many times on play fakes by Sanchez, especially on the tying touchdown. Two penalties for hits to the head didn't help. It's hard to fault a defense that allowed 276 yards and 13 points, but the unit couldn't stop the run in the second half and failed to protect the lead for one of the few times this season.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10354...#ixzz18eU3UGAA
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