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Old 11-28-2011, 06:34 AM   #1
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Default Steelers win ugly, 13-9

Steelers win ugly, 13-9
Sunday, 27 November 2011 23:35
Written by Bob Smizik

The news almost two weeks ago that Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel would be lost for the season didnít register too loudly in Pittsburgh despite the fact the Chiefs were an upcoming opponent of the Steelers.

Turns out, the news had a profound effect on the Steelers season. It helped them win a game. It helped them stay in contention for a division title and/or a playoff spot.

Without Cassel, the Chiefs were basically without an offense, which meant the Steelers had just enough to win last night, 13-9, in a game both teams would love to forget.

Former Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko, playing for Cassal, just about handed the Steelers the game with three interceptions and a fumble. Had Cassel been in the Chiefs' lineup, itís hard to imagine the Steelers winning by scoring 13 points.

The game was in doubt until the final seconds when Palko threw an interception from the Steelers' 37.

Although the Steelers defense never seemed threatened by Kansas City, the Chiefs made it interesting in the fourth quarter. First they drove 70 yards in 13 plays to set up a field goal that moved them within four points of the lead. They then forced a Steelers punt and moved 47 yards before Palko was intercepted by Keenan Lewis.

The win kept the Steelers even with Baltimore in the AFC North with a 7-3 record. The Ravens, however, own the tiebreaker with two wins over the Steelers.

The Steelers played almost the entire game without Troy Polamalu, who left early in the first quarter with concussion symptoms. Center Maurkice Pouncey left the game in the second quarter because of illness.

Palko gave the Steelers every opportunity to turn the game into a rout by turning the ball over on three consecutive plays, all in Kansas City territory.

On the first, a fumble at the Chiefs' 39, the Steelers had a 21-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall called back and eventually had to punt.

On the second, an interception early in the second quarter that gave them possession on the KC 7, the Steelers could get only a field goal after two runs netted four yards and Ben Roethlisberger threw an incompletion.

The Steelers turned Palko's second interception into a touchdown, but not easily. A defensive holding penalty overturned a Roethlisberger sack on third down and gave the Steelers a second chance. They made good on that when Roethlisberger threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Weslye Saunders.

This defense with which the Steelers had so much trouble gave up 31 points to Miami three weeks ago and 34 to New England last week. It was ranked 23rd in the NFL.

While the defense will come under some fire for the two late Kansas City drives, the Steelers did limit the Chiefs to no touchdowns, 252 yards and nine points.

The Steelers are at home Sunday against Cincinnati, a team they struggled to beat two weeks ago.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:09 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers win ugly, 13-9

How's the old saying go? The good teams know how to win ugly?

But there's ugly and there's fugly and yesterday was certainly more than simple ugly.
Admittedly, KC's defense is pretty good and the league-wide success rate after bye-weeks is statistically low, but come on man! Do we actually try or have any kind of plan in place to stop a team from converting on third down or do we just relying on "The Force" or something?

But always the optimist I will say this:
I still believe that Arians / Tomlin have yet to figure out what to do with all of the offensive toys they have now to play with and that will still take time to figure out, so the best is yet to come.

Don't forget that last year and for many years before, we've had pretty much the same basic offense in terms of planning, which was: 1 Deep Receiver, 1 Mid-range Receiver, 1 Slot Receiver, 1 Tight End (as a receiver) and 1 basic Running Back.

That basic setup existed into this season and it was only after a few games that Tomlin & Co. realized that we had as many as 10 receivers and 3 running backs and I still believe that although that's a good problem to have, it IS still a problem as far as how to effectively game plan and use these assets in the best way possible. To me it's sort of like needing to build three shelves but a big sale at the lumber store allows you to buy enough wood to make 7 shelves and after you're done, you stand there scratching your head wondering just what you're going to use the extra shelves for.

I have seen Arians "trying" a variety of things but I'm not seeing any real consistency because it's hard to be consistent when you keep changing lineups and are trying to design plays around 11 or 12 "skill players" when you're used to having only 3 or 4. If the talent we have now had emerged as mature as it appears to be now way back in training camp, they would have had more time to experiment and figure out how to use it all. But much of the talent we see now didn't really emerge until after the season started and that, combined with the shakiness of the O-line in general makes it tough to figure it all out. As I've said before, I think that once we DO figure it all out we'll be unbeatable, but until then it's going to be rough. All of this is a process and will take time to get sorted out and as long as we can still win - ugly or not - while that process is taking its course, I can live with it.

Oh and one more thing: I know that Troy sits at the right hand of God (LeBeau) but he "breaks" too often for my taste and I'm getting tired of having to deal with that. I'm also tired of having an entire defense built around him to the point of it becoming almost ineffective when he's not there. No one player should be THAT indispensable.

He's like an exotic car that's unbeatable when it's running right but is so delicate and breaks down so often that it's hard to depend on it in terms of winning races. Troy is a great player but he's too high-maintenance and like any high-maintenance thing, it's often more trouble than it's worth.

OK, I'm done.

Carry on!
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers win ugly, 13-9

I agree with you
. It's getting very tiring watching Troy sit on the sidelines for nearly complete games, sometimes multiple games in a row, due to reckless injuries. Then when he does come back, he'll play 40 yards off the line. He's great when he's in...but it seems as if its more often than not when he is out. I'm starting to wonder if its even worth it at this point. We need him in there. All the time. Not "some of the time".
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers win ugly, 13-9

It's the offense. It's terrible. Let's say by some miracle they make the SB. Do you honestly believe they will be any sort of competition against the likes of the GB Packers? If they struggle mightily to put up 30 points as they are now, then they won't be.

The offense needs to produce more points period. Last night was unacceptable.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers win ugly, 13-9

Originally Posted by ZoneBlitzer View Post
It's the offense. It's terrible. Let's say by some miracle they make the SB. Do you honestly believe they will be any sort of competition against the likes of the GB Packers? If they struggle mightily to put up 30 points as they are now, then they won't be.

The offense needs to produce more points period. Last night was unacceptable.

Yes. I believe we can compete against anybody and I believe that the offense will eventually click but we're not there yet.

I know it sounds weird but we actually have TOO MUCH talent right now and we simply haven't quite figured out how to use all of it. We suddenly went from having maybe three or four really good skill players to having as many as ten and I can see that Arians is trying but it's actually more difficult to organize that much talent than one might think.

I don't believe that Arians or Tomlin realized just how many good players they had back in training camp and that neither of them realized just how good a passing team we're capable of being.
The reason for that was because they were both geared up for "Steeler Football" and naturally focused on the running game.
But the injuries to the O-line forced them to abandon a traditional running game and in the process they discovered that they had a wealth of talent and capability as a passing team.

The problem is that this all happened as the season progressed and it's hard to change an entire philosophy in the middle of a season. But they ARE trying and I think that when they figure it out, it's going to be awesome but we're not quite there yet. It's very similar to Fox having to rewrite the playbook on the fly for Tebow. But Fox is proving that it IS possible to do that but remember that he's dealing with far less talent than we have, so naturally it will take us a bit longer to get things sorted out.

You know, there's a difference between having a bad offensive showing and having a bad offense. We don't have a bad offense - quite the contrary in fact. We have a potentially great offense.
But right now, it's like discovering a pile of treasure but not having something big enough in which to carry it home and right now we're in the process of finding a proper container for it.

Patience, grasshopper.

We'll get there!
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers win ugly, 13-9

The offense needs to stick to some sort of rhythm or dare I say it, "a game plan". A great example of this was against the pats*. Against the cheifs it was like great we got the running game going, it's second and short, now plow ahead and get the 1st, but no we have a 5-7 step drop and an incompletion, sack, or holding call. Now it's 2nd and long or 3rd and long. Stick with what is working until they stop it in my opinion.

I hate that we always have to try and outsmart a defense every serious.
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:34 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers win ugly, 13-9

They start moving the ball with short PA pass plays, runs, and quick 3 step drop passes. Then they pull out the LONG BALL and kill drives. It happened at least 4 times in the KC game. Arians cannot call a consistent 60 minutes of offensive football.
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers win ugly, 13-9

Thank you. The whole "Let's switch it up to a 30 yard pass play when we've been getting 5 to 7 yard chunks at a time" is mind boggling and it is consistently putting us in positions to lose a small lead. The game plan against Titans and Patriots was as good as I've seen and even still, we take our foot off the gas and switch it up. The Patriots game should not have been as close as it was.

Brucey boy still thinks a 14 to 17 point lead is comfortable. Maybe 7 seasons ago, but not these days. Very much like the Ravens, they get greedy as soon as they get a lead and switch it up instead of using what works until it has been proven to be stopped. Everyone in the AFC North wants a damn pass interference call just as much as they want to make a completion and it is so annoying. Ravens are averaging like 71 yards of offense via penalties so maybe they think they'll get some break too lol - NOT.

Again, our offense is the main concern. Don't bash the defense for giving up a 92 yard drive at the end of a very physical game - a situation where the offense has NEVER taken the team on its shoulders and taken the pressure off its defense. Even in past when we've sealed a game on a long third down conversion - it is still a situation where it shouldn't have even been that close and that is because we aren't clicking on any cylinders. We have glimpses here and there but are either horrid or good at best. Meanwhile the Pats, Saints and the Pack are hanging 30 to 40.

Yea, there is time to sharpen our swords - but with 5 games to go how many more times do we say they still have time? We are at the start of the final run and we better put together at least a couple convincing wins going into the post season. As of now, we deserve a wildcard, nothing more - and you can thank the offense for that. Where would we play? @ Raiders if it started today? Guess what - if you thought the KC defense was good - playing Raiders on their turf = Ben getting killed. We better find a way to come away with TDs while killing the clock. 3 and outs mean defense is on field longer and eventually they might not be able to bail us out for ONE MORE TIME. It will come to that unless we fix things and NOW - not next week or the week after or the week after. And don't be fooled by beating up St. Louis - if we are even able to do that.

I apologize for the negative nancyism lately - I can appreciate an 8-3 Steelers team that is a playoff caliber squad - but when you have at least semi-knowledgeable fans noticing the same mind-numbing, head scratching terrible situational football by the offense - it is so frustrating. I'm at half full, but it seems like they aren't on the same page. Can we please for once, have a truly juggernaut offense? See Pack - their defense is still seen as great, even though they are giving up over 400 yards of offense every game. Why - because they are bailed out every single game and they can pin their ears back and cause turnover after turnover without having to worry as much about blown assignments - they are ball hawks. We have more capable men on defense than they do but the pressure is on them all too often.
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