The Pittsburgh Steelers Lose to the Denver Broncos 34-17 - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

DENVER - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Dennis Dixon just before he was turned into a pancake.

Well that was a painful game to watch.  It left a lot to be desired from our Pittsburgh Steelers, especially for the games where Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended.  I do take a bit of solace knowing that starters Ryan Clark and Bryant McFadden did not play.  Oh, and James Farrior was out for the majority of the game after he suffered a laceration to his face when his helmet came off.  Anyway, let's jump into the notes:

The Good

  • Maurkice Pouncey came out prepared to win the starting center position last night.  From the very first whistle his motor was running hard.  He opened up some very good lanes for Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman and I do not believe he got beaten for a sack at all.
  • Rashard Mendenhall had 5 carries for 28 yards, a 5.6 average.  I was most impressed by his vision last night.  On several plays he made great cut backs when the lanes collapsed and turned nothing into something.
  • Mike Wallace looked like Santonio Holmes on his long reception.  He made some nice cuts in the open field to get an extra ten yards or so.  It kind of feels odd when he does not have at least one play where he beats the secondary deep.  That is not too bad though, it means Wallace was making plays under the safety.  He is not just a one trick pony.
  • Lawrence Timmons is turning heads.  He is making plays sideline to sideline and plugging up holes on the line.  I am beginning to feel much more comfortable with the idea of him 'Quarterbacking' our defense as James Farrior's career winds down.
  • Jonathan Dwyer went for 89 yards and a TD on 13 carries, a 6.8 average.  Even if you "take away" his big run he still had a 4.1 average.  He needed to have a big game to put his name in the 53 man roster discussion and last night certainly helped him. 
  • Ben Roethlisberger.  Ben was Ben.  Systematic, efficient, and an obvious leader when he is out on the field.  It is going to be painful to not have him out there for those first 4 weeks.  I think this team is miles better with him out there.
  • William Gay made an interception last night that looked like something that came from a Troy Polamalu highlight reel.  Nice job Big Play.
  • Speaking of Troy, he finally looked like he was back up to speed last night.  He made some great plays and got into the backfield quickly on a couple of plays.
  • On the same note, I was pleased to see Hines Ward make a few plays in the game.  I think he is going to have another big year.
  • Antonio Brown is really, really fast.  Wow.  I have not seen someone sweep the field that fast before.  Holy cow.
  • Flozell Adams looked pretty good despite one false start call.  He was not great, but he was much better than what we saw the first two games.
  • Charlie Batch, you are the man!  He has no chance of getting playing time in the four weeks in my opinion.  However, if he did, I would not feel uncomfortable with it.
  • Crezdon Butler had a good night for a rookie.  He had a near pick six and a few good passes defended.  He did give up a TD, but he is still learning.

The Bad

  • The defensive line seemed to be losing the battle all night.  Fellow Terrapin Lance Ball was slicing up the defense like a slap chop, going 75 yards on 10 carries.  Even fat LenDale White ran well against the defense, punching it in once for a touchdown on a 3rd and goal.
  • Jonathan Dwyer's blitz pick up.  I put this in the bad, because I saw it only on one play
  • James Farrior's forehead.  Ouch!  That looked like it hurt like hell.  You need to tighten those chin straps up a bit.  Hopefully, he does not need to get stitches, because he is not a snitch.
  • Antonio Brown fielding a punt at the 2 yard line and then standing there and looking like this.  Let that ball soar over your head or "RUN FORREST, RUN!!"
  • Stefan Logan had a wide open door to win back the KR/PR duties last night.  He made a similar deer-in-the-headlights moment like Brown.  I give him mad props for completely up-ending a returner on ST.
  • Did Heath Miller play last night?  Is he invisible to our Quarterbacks, especially in the end zone?
  • Byron Leftwich went 0 for 4 on passing.  I did not put him in the ugly because he had about 1.5 seconds to throw it on every play.  Our OL depth is pretty bad.

The Ugly

  • My worst fears came true with Dennis Dixon last night.  I really wanted Dixon to shine, but I was skeptical about his decision making and his ability to go through his progressions.  Several things about Dixon's play last night really scare me.  He seems to get tunnel vision occasionally and does not look off defenders.  I think the first pick was a prime example of this.  Anyway, to Dixon's credit I think the offense last night was not tailored to fit his style of play and that hurt him a lot.
  • Keenan Lewis looked like the William Gay of last year.  He was beat on every play, had a hard time tackling in space, and could not keep his man in front of him.  I think it is clear that Bryant McFadden's starting job is safe.  To make situations worse Lewis made two moronic late hits in the game.  On the first one, he hit the WR (after he got beat) after he was a good 2 steps out of bounds.  The second time, beaten again, he tackled the guy and then hit him back down to the ground as the WR tried to get up.  If I was Mike Tomlin, Keenan Lewis would not be seeing my field for a long time.
  • The pass rush was nonexistent last night and I think that made our secondary look worse.  I do not recall seeing James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley getting even a hand on Kyle Orton, although Harrison almost knocked out Orton on a "fumble" return.  The only hit I saw on Orton last night was by Lawrence Timmons, and it was a late one.
  • Daniel Sepulveda's kick offs.  I would rather have Jeff Reed's short KOs than an automatic pass to the 40 yard line.  I never understand how you kick it out of bounds off the kick off, unless it takes an unlucky bounce.
  • Trai Essex.  Slow, weak, not good.  Why don't we try Ramon Foster or Justin Hartwig at RG?  There is no way it could be worse.
  • Discipline.  Where was it last night?  Too many stupid fouls.  I hope Tomlin makes it a very hard week of practice.

What did I miss?  Let me know!

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