First, let me preface this by saying if you told me at the beginning of year the Steelers would be in the Super Bowl (After losing Holmes, horrible OL situation with rookie center and losing both tackles, and 4 game BB suspension), I would have thought you were crazy.
Having said that, they really blew this game. When they watch the film they are going to puke. And for that I'm going to rant. And if you don't believe me, make sure you watch the Playbook show on NFL Network (with Mayock and Sharpe). They broke down some plays that will make you sick.
Overall, they played very undisciplined and fundamentally unsound football. A few observations:
-I think BB is relying to much on playground football. He played a very undisciplined game. He's holding on to the ball too long and it came back to haunt him in this game. I think he got away with it against lesser teams, but it bit him in the ass. He was trying too hard to make the great play instead of setting up proper mechanics and going for proper read. Playbook showed multiple times how he either missed the open read or was too late. One time ending up getting sacked and put out of field goal position. He also was too slow getting the ball to Wallace and stared him down resulting in a pick.This to me was the biggest surprise of the game since I thought he was pretty dialed in. I think he was thinking about his legacy a little too much and trying for redemption. I think he may have gotten caught up in the super bowl swirl a little too much.
-I think we all knew (see Brady and Brees earlier in the year) that Rodgers and the talented receivers were going to give the Steelers issues. They really have problems on 3rd and long. DBs play way off and give way too much cushion. Its just too easy for an experienced, accurate QB to read and pitch and catch. So you had to expect it. But the Steelers still had opportunities to get a healthy lead in this game. And the Packers lost Driver and much of their starting secondary. But BB's bad decisions and execution stalled a few drives in 3rd/4th qtr.
-Gay, McFadden and Madison have continuously not been able to cover anyone's 3, 4 or 5 WR if they are any good. Its been that way for the past 2 yrs. They need to upgrade so badly here. They've tried on the cheap to fill holes here but it has not worked- and Lubeau's schemes really put these guys on an island which is why having an upgrade here is so critical .
-Also, Farrior simply cannot do it anymore. He is too slow to get to the passing lanes. Its just that simple. Love him but he's become a liability.
-You can blame BB or Arians for that last drive, but when you see Playbook you will see how Mike Wallace choked when most needed. 3 plays in a row he looked horrible and lack of effort or confused. It was disturbing how little he came up there. This was the most disturbing thing about the whole game and very uncharacteristic of Steelers football.
-Keyaron Fox's penalty was so stupid. Although I have to admit their Special Teams was so much better than last year, but why do they have so many penalties. I would love to know how their special teams ranked in penalties vs. other teams. Again, just undisciplined.
-Polumalu was out of position much of the night and gambled a couple of plays. and Woodley was running up the field on run plays making it easy for GB to block. Again, just straight up undisciplined.
-Packers coaching totally outcoached Steelers coaching. It wasn't even close. Wasting 2 timeouts and the 52 yd FG was poor coaching. Tomlin talks a great game and I respect him as a person and how he held the team together this year but I'm not sure of his game day abilities.
Negatives for 2010/2011: These are much of the same issues as last year. OL is still not good. Better than I would expect as they even look worse on paper but at least they played up to their talent. DBs need significant upgrade. Not sold on Ziggy Hood. He looked horrible. He and Eason were simply getting dominated. Blown off the ball. Thought he was the answer but now not sure. Ward, Smith, Hampton, Polumalu, Kiesel ain't getting any younger. The window is only 1-2 more years with this bunch.
Postives for 2010/2011: Running game was much better than last year- and Mendenhall played significantly better as the season wore on. Special Teams was so much better- a bit time liability last year. But their penalties on every play are starting to wear on me. Young WRs stepping up big time- future of this position is great. OL should be so much more improved from this year. I thought Ziggy Hood was the answer- but after this game not so sure.
Hope they have a shot to get back next year- and get a chance to redeem themselves. Go Steelers! Great year... horrible last game.