Whew! That was close. So, when it was 3rd-goal at the two, I was thinking "just don't do anything stupid, Reed has a chipshot for the FG...worst thing that can happen would be a turnover in the endzone." I was also thinking, "Ben, don't try to do to much, if something's open in the endzone...take it, but don't force anything and if you're getting pressure, take the sack...go down and we'll take the FG".
As the ball was snapped, I realized Ben was going to take it on a bootleg. "This is good," I thought, "he's gonna run it in...he's gonna score!". Then, when he started to dive, I thought "he dove too early." I saw him get hit and the ball come out and what looked like Miami recover. I thought, "Oh sh!t" we're gonna lose". But, I saw the ref signal TD and I thought maybe he actually broke the plane before the fumble. After the challenge, though, and the replays, I realized he didn't break the plane...again I thought "wow! this is how we're gonna lose." It didn't occur to me though that, maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't give the ball to the Fins because they already had signaled TD and blew the whistle so the ball would be dead at the spot of the fumble. It turned out that was the case, but had there been clear evidence of a Fin recovering the ball (or had the refs not initially called it a TD) we might have seen a different outcome to this game...who knows?
A win is a win though, and at 5-1, we're still on top the AFC North and got a big road win against an AFC opponent.
Statistically, Ben had a great game throwing for over 300 yds. 2 TD and a 132 rating. The three fumbles were concerning though. The first one was Ben being Ben and trying to keep the play going as long as he can to make something happen. In that situation though, he has to realize that taking the sack and punting isn't the worst thing to do. Thanks to the D, it only cost 3 pts. instead of 7. The second fumble was more of the same, but this time thanks to "Johnny on the spot" Pouncey he was able to scoop the up the ball and prevent a TO. Then, of course, the third I talked about in the intro. Overall, though, Ben threw the ball really well and had some beauties like the TD to Wallace among others. He put the ball on the money on most of his throws and there were a few that were incomplete that I think could have been caught (Wallace, El, come to mind). I think the big guy is all the way back.
It just wasn't one of Mendy's best games. I think much of that had to do with the OL, but he just couldn't find any room to run. On the flip side, hello Mr. Moore, where have you been all season? This was the first game where Memo had an impact...the biggest was the 29 catch and run on 3rd-5 on the final drive. That was one of the key plays of the game. They were out of FG range at the time at the 43. Ike Redman failed to convert on his only 3rd-short and didn't get it in from the 4 on the final drive, but he did have a decent run on 1st down after the Memo catch on that drive.
Well, well, well...do you think Hines is glad to have Ben back? Hines had his best game of the year (7-131, TD). In the two games with Ben he is 12-185-2TD. Just like last week, he had another impressive catch-run for a TD where he shook off a would-be tackler. How nice was that 43 yarder in the 1st QTR on 3rd-16? So, as always I will continue to say that Wallace should be good for a TD minimum per game. I'm just not sure why they didn't try it again later in the game, there was no one in the Fins secondary that could stay with him on the fly pattern. I was disappointed though that Wallace didn't lay out for the one catch on the opening drive. Ben through it a bit far but I think Wallace coulda had it (then Ben fumbled on the very next play). El only had one catch and one bounced of his should later in the game. Sanders had a clutch catch on 3rd-11 in the 3rd QTR on a nice pass from Ben. I think we'll see more of those from him throughout the season. Heath didn't have a huge game but he had a big 16yd. catch on 3rd-9 from deep in PIT territory. The drive ended up with a punt (after Ben's 2ndfumble), but that catch helped change field position. Spaeth was actually the target of a Ben pass into the endzone but it was too high. DJ Johnson didn't seem to have much of an impact blocking today.
Not a great game from the big uglies. They lost the battle of the line of scrimmage which enabled the Fins to shut down the running game. Legursky had a rough start (two holding penalties on the 3rd series). Flo got rolled up on his ankle and didn't return, and Scott filled in but didn't get much of a push. Kemo seemed to disappear and didn't really open the holes we're used to seeing from him. Starks had one of his days where he gets pushed around a bit. I don't understand how that happens, they were kidding about his size during the game...at 6"8" 360+, he should be much more powerful than he is. Pouncey was OK, but didn't have as strong of a game as he has in the past (liked the fumble recovery though). All in all though, the line did an decent enough pass blocking job to allow Ben to throw for 300+ and get the win.
First off, with the news the Aaron Smithmight be out for the season with a torn tricep...that's upsetting. As us Steeler fans know, he is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. The team just isn't the same without him (and wasn't the same in this game after he left). He had a few nice tackles today along with his usual dominance along the line of scrimmage. Ziggy came in and replaced him, but I think the time is now for the young man to prove himself worthy of his #1 pick. So far, he's come along but certainly hasn't lived up to the #1 status...with Smith out, he'll get the chance to. Let's hope he steps it up. The rest of the line seemed to get tired as the game wore on (heat had a lot to do with it). If indeed Smith is out it will be interesting to see what move the Steelers make to fill his spot on the roster. It could be Steve McClendon, who's bounced back-and -forth between the active roster and PS as needed, but he is more of a NT than a DE. Other posts have mentioned bringing back Sonny Harris who's on Buffalo's PS...or maybe bringing Travis Krischke out of retirement. They also have rookie DE Al Woods on the PS, but not sure what they've seen from him in practice.
Woodley went down with a hammy injury, and I sure hope it doesn't keep him out for long if at all. However, welcome to the NFL Jason Worilds. After Woodley went out, Worilds saw his most extensive action on D so far and I thought did a decent job. He got pressure on Henne, with the most significant coming on their last gasp 4th down play at the end. Nice to see the young man step it up. Mr. Nasty Harrison still made his presence felt today even though he didn't have any big hits or sacks. He seemed to be pulling up a bit instead of going in for the kill, as you would expect after all that went down this week. Timmons was all over the field but didn't have a big day on the stat sheet with only 3 tackles. He's been asked to do a lot in pass coverage (as he is the fastest and most athletic of the LBs), but I'm wondering if they are asking him to do too much. I saw him covering WR Bess on one play where he got beat, but still made the tackle. Farrior got the recovery on the Hartline fumble but didn't have a big day either. Foote got more PT than I've seen from him all year (due to the Woodley injury), and he looked good on the blitz where he got the sack.
Ike Taylor had a tough task covering Marshall all day, and he kept him in check for the most part. We need Ike to play like that all year. Dmac had an OK game too supporting the run in addition to his coverage duties. Troy didn't necessarily have a Troy-like day, as I was expecting him to make a game changing play at some point, but it's also good to see that the team can win a close game without a big play from the Samoan Jesus. Clark to me is still suspect out there at times. I saw him miss a few tackles again today. Gay was a mixed bad. On one play he came up an made a nice tackle on 3rd down to force a punt, but he also missed on the Bess TD catch-run.
The opening KO fumble by Sanders looked like it was going to be a bad omen. At the time I was saying that they should have used Antonio Brown instead. Then, when he finally broke one for 37yrds (in the 2nd QTR) I thought maybe we have something here. That something was the 48 yarder in the 4th QTR after the Fins go ahead FG. That return was huge...a key play in the game. It set the Steelers up near mid-field making the task of getting into FG range much easier...and Sanders almost broke it for a TD if not for the final tackler. Glad the kid redeemed himself. Overall, a decent job by the coverage teams keeping the Fins from any big plays that can be costly in a tight game like this. Sepulveda was good again today...I wouldn't be shocked to see him in Pro Bowl consideration later on this season.
Overall a pretty good job by Tomlin, BA, LeBeau and company getting the win against a solid Miami team. I wasn't crazy about the way they handled the last minute of the 1st Half. They had the ball at the Miami 28 in FG range and 2nd-4. Why call a reverse there? It was a Memo to Wallace reverse but Memo got tackled before he could even get the ball to Wallace...and lost 8 yds...basically taking them out of FG range. The reverses never seem to work and why even risk it there? Why not put Redman and Mendy in the "I" and try a quick hitter up the middle with Ike? You might just pick up the 1st down and then can take shot at the endzone. Or take a shot with Wallace in the endzone. Either way, in a 17-16, once in FG range you want to stay there andat least come out with 3.
So, here we are, 5-1, and about to face a Saints team the just got shocked by the Browines. The Saints are reeling right now and the Steelers can go in there and take it to them on Halloween night. Here we go STEELERS! Here we go!