Steelers Vs. Titans first half review: blocked punts will haunt

Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Two significant plays: Titans blocked a punt, Titans got an interception. Titans led by six at the half.

It probably wasn't as bad as many felt it was at halftime. The injuries were piling up, but the Steelers were getting more pressure on the passer and were making plays against an overmatched secondary.

A big blocked punt and a critical interception at just the right time put the Titans' offense back on the field one too many times. They took a time of possession advantage - something the Steelers had held at the end of each game this season until Week 6.

  • Putting the full opening drive by the Titans was some work. Hasselbeck was 3-for-5 with a drop that would have been a touchdown. He drew a pass interference, and exploited an ill-advised run blitz by Ryan Clark on first down. That left Will Allen with deep safety help. Kenny Britt was locked on Ike Taylor, and Allen was nowhere near on his help.
  • Note to Bengals. If you see Ryan Clark moving down in run support, leaving Will Allen over the top, just run the ball. Do not think A.J. Green is better than Kenny Britt, cuz he's...uh...not. Or something.
  • Ok, ya know what? Never play Cover 1 again, LeBeau. They're playing with 10.5 players. Clark isn't fast enough to give Taylor deep help outside the numbers.
  • The Steelers have the same kind of game plan. Attacking deep. Roethlisberger's first pass to Antonio Brown was a little off the mark, but on the second play, Roethlisberger had his choice of Brown - who got inside his defender deep - or Wallace - who was streaking wide open on a deep cross, occupying the deep safety who was ignoring Brown. But Max Starks didn't get a block, forcing Roethlisberger to spin away from a takle, and hit safety value Heath Miller short.
  • Starks gets beat again on the second play, but Roethlisberger gets the throw off, and Isaac Redman does his rumblin-bumblin-stumblin act through a Titans defense far more interested in trying to jar the ball loose than making a tackle.
  • The Steelers force the punt, but they're still playing Clark 17 yards off the ball, leaving Taylor and Lewis in outside man with zone under.
  • A nice twist by Worilds and Hood coming off the offensive right side. Worilds got the hit on Hasselbeck, even though he completed the pass, it didn't go anywhere.
  • Sometimes movement and disguise is more valuable than athleticism. Hasselbeck probably didn't see Harrison drop into coverage. That, or Hasselbeck hates Kenny Britt, because Kenny Britt dropped his second of five passes in the night because James Harrison would have destroyed him if he caught it.
  • Then Britt had the gall to say something to him, resulting in Harrison half-shoving him four yards back.
  • The punt block is where this game really started to favor the Titans. It's a nice punt block, a delayed rush that confused Greg Warren and Ryan Mundy. It actually is pretty much the same thing as the fire blitz the Steelers' inside linebackers have pretty much trademarked over the years. The confusion leads to an open rusher and the block.
  • Brown may not be making game-breaking plays but his short game is has a huge amount of value in the lack of a running game. It's keeping safeties inched closer, and it's bringing linebackers out wider, particularly when Brown is on the strong side of the field.
  • Then, when the line him up on the weak side of the formation, it goes for a yard loss. At the risk of starting yet another "Mike Wallace doesn't block, therefore, he doesn't have value as a receiver" argument, you can't ask Wallace to be the primary blocker on that play. You just can't. The two of them should not be lined up on the same side of the field.
  • Has the NFL kept records on most consecutive games surrendering a sack? It's possible Mike Adams may end up the Joe Dimaggio of the NFL.
  • What's more amazing is Adams played fairly well in the absence of Marcus Gilbert (who managed to fall on Maurkice Pouncey, but injured himself on his own). Max Starks struggled quite a bit in this half.
  • Redman ended up having a big receiving game, obviously, but he ran with so much more conviction than he had. The injury theory is ringing pretty loudly, and it could mean he'll become a focus of the offensive game plan in Week 7 against a Bengals team struggling to stop the run.
  • At the risk of making an inappropriate joke, it appears Lawrence Timmons is really the one on Adderall. He's so much sharper mentally than he has been. He challenges passes, reads runs and patiently is destroying offenses for three straight weeks now.
  • Roethlisberger's interception, his first in 124 throws dating back to Week 1, isn't thrown into double coverage. He missed a back shoulder throw to Brown a little high, and Jason McCourty made a nice play on the ball.
  • But man...what a huge turnover. Roethlisberger knows it too. They could have put points on the board to end the half, then gotten the ball back to start the third. Instead, they allow a long drive, and a field goal the other way.
  • The Steelers did add a new wrinkle to their blitz package, though. We've highlighted the wide cross they've done with an outside linebacker and an inside linebacker in switched roles. This time, they had cornerback Keenan Lewis out at basically the outside linebacker's position, and Timmons on the outside shade of the slot. Timmons pushes out with Lewis slanting inside.
  • The half ends down 16-10, not a great position to be in. Turnovers and big plays, though, speak volumes.

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