One thing that has amazed me so far about our run to the Super Bowl is that the Steelers have not put together two good halves in the same game. The first half of the Baltimore Ravens game was a nightmare that saw 21 unanswered purple points after a solid 6 minute, 80 yards, touchdown drive by the Steelers. Then, in the Jets game the Steelers went into the second half with a 24-3 lead. However, our boys would not score a single point in the next half and relinquished 19 to the opponent. This is not a surprise though, because any seasoned Black and Gold fan knows that they like to keep things interesting. I generally have 3-5 mini-heart attacks a game as a result of this. Let's take a look at those two bad halves.
Against the Ravens, the first half was abysmal at best. Not only did the Steelers give up 21 points, but 14 of them came on only 16 offensive yards for Baltimore. Two Pittsburgh fumbles gave them one defensive touchdown and the other a 16-yard short field. When you only get about 5 drives in a half, giving it away on two of them is always going to hurt you. What made matters worse is that Joe Flacco looked like an all-star int he first half. He had completed 66.7% of his passes with a touchdown and a 95.1 QB rating. That was a result of the Steelers being unable to get to him, tallying up only 1 sack in the half. Ben on the other hand had been sacked 3 times and only had a rating of 77.8.
There remained a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. While looking at the box score at half I realized that the Steelers, outside of the two turnovers, had played a better half than the Ravens. They had accumulated more offensive yards, about 20, and had a better yards per play, 4.0 to Baltimore's 3.5. This team was too good to turn the ball over again and not force any themselves.
In the Jets game the Steelers went into the 2nd half with a 3 touchdown score lead. With the best defense in the league at home that is impossible to overcome. However, the Jets sure made a good run at it. Our team would not score another point and it only gathered 75 yards in 4 drives. Those 4 drives ended in this manor: interception, punt, safety, end of regulation. The only successful drive being the final one, which put the Jets to bed early without a bed time story. Along the way, however, the Steelers gave up 239 yards after shutting down the jets to just 50 in the first.
In order to win the Super Bowl the Steelers are going to have to show they can put together a complete game to beat the Green Bay Packers. I say that, because the Packers are a better team than both the Ravens and the Jets. From my 2010 defensive analysis earlier this week, they came out as the 2nd best team in the league. Dom Capers is a defensive coordinator that draws similarities to our own Dick LeBeau. They have several playmakers on defense in Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, B.J. Raji, and Desmond Bishop.
Unlike the Ravens and the Jets, I believe that the Packers have one of the best offenses in the league. They 5 or 6 wide receivers that can get open and gut up your defense. They have the ability to spread out the Steelers and orchestrate a game plan very similar to the Patriots drubbing. If Aaron Rodgers can be patient but quick and accurate he could neuter the Steelers pass rush and open up the secondary. If he is able to do that, it will open up a lot for the running game and play action as a result. However, typing that out is a lot easier than actually doing it. Dick LeBeau will be scheming hard this next two weeks to limit Aaron Rodgers effectiveness.