January 6, 2008

Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword...

"I'm ashamed. I told the guys I apologize."
- Big Ben
Ben giveth, Reshean Mathis taketh away. Once bitten, thrice intercepted. Or something like that, right?

Yep, despite a valiant comeback effort - posting 22 2nd half points to take the lead for a matter of minutes - the Steelers never could overcome that 21 point 1st half deficit amassed via three Big Ben interceptions and a bedshitting "Special" Teams performance. Disappointing? Yeah, sure. But sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Like it or not, the game was basically lost in the 1st half when Ben threw three (!) picks, one returned for a TD.

So who's to blame?

The Defense? I'm sure many of you would like to say - if we don't let Garrard run for 32 yards on 4th and 2 during the last drive, we win that game. And you wouldn't be wrong. But you can't wipe out the entire defensive effort because of one play that probably was the result of a holding non-call (how convenient). Aside from that run and 26 other rushing yards contributed by David Garrard, the Steelers D held the Jags "lethal" rushing attack to just 78 yards. Only 48 of which were Fred Taylor's. I'd say that's a pretty successful campaign considering last time they racked up 224 total rush yards against us. Wouldn't you?

Bruce Arians? I've heard blame laid on Arians more times than I can count this season for the Steelers shortcomings. Frankly, I think it's crap. I certainly question why he'd call a QB draw on 3rd and 6 when we need a 1st down to close out the game. But don't forget, the Offense posted 19 points in a matter of 10 minutes last night. Was none of THAT attributable to Bruce Arians? Perplexing calls at times yes, but there's no denying the growth of this Offense in 2007.

Coach Tomlin? After all, if we don't go for two twice, we would've still been tied at the end of that game even with the Scobee field goal. Ok, so that's a pretty weak argument. But I figured I'd throw it in nonetheless. Going for two was the right call both times. Unfortch we didn't make the right PLAY call either time (that one you can also pin on Arians).

"Special" Teams? Yep, not even going to defend these guys.

Big Ben? Three interceptions certainly suggests blame could rightfully be placed on Ben. But like Arians, without Ben, the Steelers probably don't come back from 28-10 near the end of the 3rd quarter. Picks aside, Ben threw the ball an unprecedented 42 times, completing 29 for 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns. You think we'd get that kind of production out of Slash? Tommy Maddox?

The refs? Larry Foote claims holding on the soon to be infamous David Garrard 32 yard draw play. Was there really holding? Probably. But you can't blame the officials for the fact that we dug ourselves in deep early. Bad calls or no calls, in either case we still needed to play at a high level to win the game, and we just didn't do enough.

I guess what I'm getting at is - it really doesn't matter who's to blame. Overall, I think Mike Tomlin said it best - "We fell short. Nothing really soothes the feeling we have right now."Amen Mike, losing sucks.

But despite last night's game, the Steelers gave us a pretty damn good year - a lot of things to be happy about (further emergence of Big Ben, Santonio, Silverback, supposed #1 Defense), and also some things to be not so happy about (Offensive Line, Special Teams, ahem ahem). 10-6, with a rookie Head Coach and rampant injuries is still pretty darn good. Hey, beats the shit out of 8-8 with a Coach who suddenly seemed uncharacteristically apathetic. So Mike Tomlin, Big Ben, Hines, Willie, Silverback, Farrior, Troy, Face Me Ike and all the rest - thanks for making my Sundays interesting. Albeit up and down, the team this year was something to look forward to each weekend.

As for One For The Other Thumb - since I don't really believe in "time off," there should be plenty of musings and photoshop goodness throughout the coming months. That said, I (like my compatriot Neal at Die Hard Steel) am going to try my damndest to take at least the next week off. We'll see how long that lasts. As an aside, any of you out in SoCal - I'll be in sunny LA (well, Hermosa Beach) starting this Thursday evening, staying 'til Sunday afternoon. So if you're in the area, and you like alcoholic beverages, you just might see me around.

Oh, and for those of you wondering what my Mom thought about our loss (admit it, that's exactly what you were wondering) - she sends her commiseration...

Bonus Photoshop for you - Obi Ben Roethlisberger...

[Blitzburgh Report]
[Die Hard Steel]
[Doubt About It]
[Football Braniac]
[Pierogis N'At]

Ballhype: hype it up!


MDultrarunner said...

I gotta agree with you, we can't exactly lay the blame on anyone in particular. Well, okay, special teams were unable to do anything more than take a shit on the 50 yard line, but, like you said, everybody else played at least a small part. Ben threw three picks--damn, isn't he in the Pro Bowl?!--but did lead the team back. Arians made one of the stupidest calls but was able to call the correct plays to lead the team back. The defense played well--even with all the uncalled penalties. And, although Tomlin should have gone for the extra points on those two TDs (as I told my wife he should do before the first comeback touchdown) he coached pretty well in his first playoff game.

Yeah, it was a pretty good season for a team picked to finish third in the division. I look forward to watching Ben to San Antonio next year, Silverback team up with Woodley to break a few legs, and FWP storm back to win the rushing title. Tomlin's a big boy now--he's had his first taste of the playoffs--and I think he'll be a good coach. I'm pissed to see all these people calling for his job on a Post-Gazette web poll. C'mon, people, he led the team to a division title and the playoffs in his first year!

That said, the offensive line needs a gift from God this offseason, the special teams needs nothing less than a miracle, and I'm still hopin' to see Schmitt from WVU sporting the mohawk in black and gold next season.

quiet strength said...

It's not the first time this season that our NFL's best defense has folded with the game on the line. I can't believe the hold really mattered much on the Garrard run with the hole he had. They got a great push. However, if in the future officials would like to call a personal foul when a defensive player tackles and holds onto the opposing team's best player's knee, twisting it in quite unnatural positions, I will not object. And if announcers would like to refrain from blatantly ignoring it, that would also be fantastic.

tecmo said...

I only attribute much of the blame to Arians because...not only the designed QB run on 3rd and 6...but also because of the repeated fade routes when we're right near the endzone. Its when we are either going for a td or a 2 pt conversion. Sure, Hines pulled in the one before Mahan decided to hold, but Arians went right back to it with Santonio and Nate. Its all the time.

And bakc to the QB run. I know you need to run the clock down, but two rushes prior added up to 4 yards. Did he really think he'd get 6 with Ben? That's what happened last time against Jax. We fooled around with the clock and left 'em enough time to win it late.

Cotter said...

mdultrarunner ~ Exactly...fire Arians because of a few bad calls in a game we basically had no business winning? Sounds a little too reactionary to me. PS - you should start the petition to draft Owen Schmitt...and every top lineman available when our number comes up.

quietstrength ~ I particularly enjoyed Al Michaels freak out on the Hines facemask thing. I literally got up walked over to the TV pointing my finger and telling him how much of an asshole I think he is (er...thought he was. Seems like a nice enough guy in general).

tec ~ I completely understand what you're saying. QB draw with one of the slowest guys on the team ain't exactly a good call. Nor were the runs on 1st and 2nd down, or the fades when we went for 2, as you pointed out. But this game was not lost because of Bruce Arians. We lost it because we made too many mistakes as a whole, only some of which were his fault. One year under this coaching regime's belt. Sometimes you learn lessons the hard way.

MC said...

Hopefully we get one thing from this season, Mike Tomlin learns to not be ultra-conservative and stop depending on the defense to make a stop at the end of the game, because they didn't all season long. Also, the talk in camp was that Tomlin was spending a lot o ftime wiht the Special teams, well for next year, maybe he shouldn't spend any time on them, maybe we'll be better.

Anonymous said...

I'm blaming this one on special teams. They have put us in a bad position ALL year long. They are a sad, pathetic, embarrassing group of girls. I cannot say enough bad things about them, seriously.

domski43 said...

i think everyone is hitting a lot of points home (special teams/playcalling/overall play)...honestly the steelers gave me more than I could have hoped in the playoff game. i really didnt expect much going into the game because of our injury situation and inability to beat good teams all year.

once again hines ward rises to the occasion...you gotta love his toughness and dependability..i'm just wondering how many years he has left.

as stated above the steelers have to revamp the offensive line. i dont even want to imagine what the line will look like without faneca...scary! this problem cannot be fixed entirely through the draft, its time to make a free agency splash...any ideas?

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Excellent wrap-up on all counts. Just before the 3rd and six QB run by Ben, I thought we might see a quick inside shovel pass. Oh, well. IN all, it was a decent season, and lots of fun for all of us in the Stiller blogging community. You've done highly entertaining and exemplary work, Cotter. Enjoy your time in SoCal. Sounds like fun.

domski43 said...

these arians/tomlin haters in the post gazette are the same fans that cant get over cowher and are looking for anyone to blame. anyone can be a monday morning quarterback. These are opinions, but wake the f up. These are the same fans who were afraid of losing joey porter only to brag about james harrison. The same fans who questioned if big ben was the real deal after last year's interception ridden season. The same fans who questioned Arian's philosophy to let big ben open up the offense and make adjustments as he saw necessary.(i'll admit to that one). But, those fans that didnt feel our run game was "smash mouth," even though willie was leading the lead in rushing. we scoffed when willie said he wanted to be up there with LT prior to this season. arians made our rush offense better, while at the same time ben is breaking terry bradshaw's records, while getting sacked every other play. Lets not play the firing game because sooner or later you start sounding like eagles fans, who dont appreciate the big picture the steelers provided us this year. Honestly, did you think we were going to win the superbowl without willie and aaron smith? If you did you are a better fan than I. I have faith in the steelers organization to address our needs (#1 offensive line and #2 special teams), whether there needs to be changes among the coaching staff or I know for sure that firing bruce arians is the last thing the rooney's are thinking about right now.

Andy said...

Good post!

The one thing that I caught myself griping about a couple of times in this game, like a few of the other televised games is the poor tackling from defense and from special teams.

Overall though, the team lost, not one person.

However, I'm very pleased with this year's performance and I'm very happy with Tomlin! They gave me a lot to cheer for.

Black&Gold Girl said...

Gotta agree with andy and others above, it was a good post. And really, can any of us Steelers fans be angry? We can disagree with as much as we want, but when all is said and done, we still made it to the playoffs.

I will never forget that run on 3 and 6. Just like I will never forget Ben saying before the season, that they weren't going to be so predictable by running 1st and 2nd, yet we were for most of the season.

But Saturday's loss was the fault of everyone. The whole team and coaching staff could have done a better job. I think the weaknesses in both lines, especially the O-line are so apparent even a deaf, blind donkey couldn't miss 'em. If we can't protect Ben or Willie, how in God's name are they suppose to do anything. Yet somehow, Willie lead the League in rushing and Ben posted his best season yet.

Looks good for next year. And look out for Woodley!

Tobiathan said...

I would like to point out that we can see Silverback violently trying to pull away from the Jags O-lineman on that 32-yarder at the end. His jersey was so obviously in the lineman's grip that it was stretched about a foot out as Silverback tried desperately to get to Garard.

And i won't even mention the non-holding that occured on the two-point conversion we *should* have gotten. Mahan, nor anyone on offense, held.

Yet ANOTHER loss attributable to unbelievable discrepencies by officials.

I, for one, still maintain that if Pittsburgh's games had been officiated EXACTLY like NE's we would still be in the playoffs. I don't mind *getting beat*(like the Jags beat us in regular season), but I HATE losing due to ridiculous calls by refs.


Our guys did pretty well this year, considering how often so many of our biggest playmakers were out of the game. 10-6 was, really, a miracle this year given injuries, new staff, and the uncooperative officiating.

I still say the NFL is handing the Lombardi Trophy to NE just to appease and encourage it's enormously profitable fanbase. Big effing market, Boston is. Much, much bigger than Pittsburgh.

Next year we need:

1. Two EFFECTIVE offensive linemen
2. A pure pass-rushing DE/LB
3. A ST demon
4. A fucking competent safety to assist/back up Troy.
5. A second bad-ass RB.

If we can cover most of those ases, we'll be competitive. If not we will struggle yet again.

It was nice to see SD surprise Indy, but i doubt the Chargers will be allowed to win the AFC. SD is too small a market for the SB. NE is already crowned IMHO. Chargers might as well not even bother to show up. No matter how well they play penaltries will set them back until Brady is allowed to win. Again.

I kind of hate the NFL.

But i still love my Stillers.

Keep up the good work in the offseason, Cotter. Maybe we can all join together and talk some sense into the staff..lol