A bit ago, I poasted an in-depth look at our defense's ability to withstand an opposing team's offense with under 3 minutes to go in the half. In particular, the goal then was to see if Troy Polamalu was the key to our defense.
I just felt like following up on that review. Yet another game, and two 3 minute or less opportunities were converted into 3 points, and 8 points, Those last 8 being the deciding ones.
Since we have more data this year now, I wanted to look at it a bit more.
Its interesting to note this. Last year, we allowed 8/29 of those 3 minute or less to go in the half opportunities. Thats just 27.5%. And of that, just 36 points were scored, 7 of which were against backups in a blowout. But I'll count them nonetheless. Not a single one of these were game winning drives.
Since the abscence of Troy Polamalu, throughout the 09 season, we've given up a hefty 5/7 chances, or 71.4%. And a total of 25 points, and TWO game winning drives.
This sets up next week as an interesting scenario. Polamalu wishes to return for Detroit. Which is one week after our game against Whale's Vagina next week. I personally think we can beat detroit without TP and we should just let him heal up more at that point.
But getting to the point, this week we will face a Chargers team with a potent offense. Much like the last few teams we've played. Should we be worried? I think so. But I also feel inclined to point out that our offense has developed too.
Today we saw a run game. And although the Bengals locked it down more in the second half, I personally attribute that to the playcalling more than anything. I felt we went way more conservative, and forced Ben into more 3rd and longs. I also think the officiating sucked in the second half, but it certainly wasn't impossible to overcome. The holding call on Willie Colon was atrocious, and took away a very precious first down.
But the point is, we had a very versatile offense that put together plenty of chances, and we just didnt take them in. Firstly I think Limas Sweed showed progress. How can I say that? Well this drop was later than the last. Yes its sad to say this, but think of it this way: In the AFCCG, he let it clank off his hands. This time, he at least got it into his body. He just felt he had the TD and relaxed too much. Hopefully next time, he actually gets it all the way. I'm not about to give up on him.
The O-line did an absolutely fantastic job today. They should be given a freaking medal. This shows us, that despite playing a very tenacious D, we can certainly hold up.
Willie Parker critics, shut your damn mouths. I've sat here all last week, and pointed out how nobody is going to do better than Parker, and its just the fault of our O-line. Well here you go. Almost 100 yards, and a huge TD reception, and another catch later on. Yes, Willie's our back. I dont recall seeing Mendenhall even touch the field. So thats something to think about. When the O-line Plays well, and plays are called well, Parker wins. Period.
For next week, we need to realize that our offense probably has to carry the load. Its almost certain we'll give up at least one half ending drive against a fast paced offense. The only way to prevent this, is to sustain a long drive toward the end ourselves. By using ball control and clock management toward the end, we can probably keep the other team off the field long enough to prevent this glaring weakness from showing up again.
I feel its entirely possible we go 1-3 before Troy returns. However, even if that is the case. Its a long season. Dig in, because I think we have shown immense improvement this week, and have incredible potential to do a great job down the stretch.
Dont abandon ship, dont jump out your windows, and hang in there. When our lord and savior returns, this game will be laughed about later on.