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What is the Steelers “Dud of the Week” in the loss to the Vikings in Week 14?

Changing from a “who” to a “what” may be a more accurate description.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

This was bad yet again. Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers fought their way back to make a blowout interesting at the end only to fall short, but the first 40 minutes of the game is what put the Steelers in the position they were in to try to win a game down 29 points and only 20 minutes to work with. While there are a lot of positives in the fight the Steelers showed to get back into the game, dismissing all the shortcoming that put them in the situation would be foolish. With the game ultimately being a loss, it’s time to look at the “Dud of the Week,” but this time the question has changed from “who” to “what.”

So what gets the anti-game ball?

Highlighting the results of the previous week’s game ball , let’s check out the winner…

Week 13 Game Ball Winner: T.J. Watt

So many people thought that Watt would not be playing in this game because he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, but the Steelers never talked about ruling him out. Coming back off a down performance the previous week, Watt showed why he is in the running for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year as, with no practice, he put up 3.5 sacks with six quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and six tackles. T.J. Watt now leads the NFL in sacks despite completely missing two games while missing a good portion of two others.

I do have to say how unpleasant it is to not give a game ball, but the circumstances call for it. I will remind everyone of the PAST rules that it is individual players who will be in the running. Although it could be applicable, it will not be either position groups or coaches who are eligible for this designation as they are more in line for Jeff Hartman’s Winners and Losers article. With such an unusual game and how it all played out, I’m going to look at things rather than players to point out.

So here are the nominations for the biggest “Dud of the Week” in no particular order:


Stopping Dalvin Cook

A player who was thought to not even be available to play this game due to suffering a torn labrum only two game‘s prior, Dalvin Cook ran all over the Steelers. On 27 carries, he had 205 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 7.6 yards a carry. Whatever the plan was for stopping him, and whoever it was responsible for making the plays, it just didn’t work.


Covering Justin Jefferson

One of the things that made this game get out of hand early was not only the Vikings running all over the Steelers, but it seemed like the biggest wide receiver threat was getting open at will the entire first half. Justin Jefferson finished the game with seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, but had two other balls he could have caught in the end zone and didn’t come up with them. The plan to cover him was not working, especially in the first half where he had six receptions for 67 yards and his touchdown.


Sustaining drives (The first 40 minutes)

The Steelers simply couldn’t move the ball for 2/3 of the game against the Vikings. In the first half they only had 66 yards of offense and five first downs, two of which came via penalty. In the Steelers first two drive to the second half, they managed a total of 23 yards, which came on a Najee Harris rush, and one first down. Unfortunately, the next play after the Harris run was an interception. The Steelers simply couldn’t maintain drives until the last five minutes of the third quarter.


Immaturity

While this could all be laid on one player, I’m going stick with the theme of not naming names for the Steelers. It started with a 15-yard taunting penalty which killed a drive in the first half. The same player was also guilty of celebrating a first down rather than rushing the ball to the official during a running clock with less than a minute left and no timeouts. Those valuable seconds which ticked away could have given the Steelers one more play at the end of the game. But this wasn’t the only immature moment as Steelers also felt the need to celebrate and pose in the end zone after a takeaway while trailing 29 to 7.


Protecting the Quarterback

The Steelers quarterback was sacked five times in the game. And it wasn’t just getting sacked, several of the plays he had no time to even set his feet to throw. Not only did it come from blitzing players, there was even one sack surrendered where nobody touched a defensive lineman and let him have a clear shot at the quarterback.


Effort (The first 40 minutes)

The Steelers simply didn’t show up to play from the opening whistle. It took them 2/3 of the game to get warmed up and actually start laying it all on the line in order to try to salvage a comeback. And while they were able to fight their way back and almost send the game to overtime, there was just a complete lack of effort through the entire first half which even spilled over into the second half. The team simply can’t come out this flat and this uninterested in playing the game and think they will turn it on at the very end and pull out the victory.


I know I changed the rules again, but it just seemed to be appropriate to look at this game and the “Dud” from the standpoint of specific aspects of the game rather than specific players. Rather than pin it all on one person or one coach, I felt looking at something that Steelers didn’t do well seems to be more at the heart of identifying what put them in the position to where 21 points in the fourth quarter still wouldn’t be enough.

So what do you think? What deserves the “Dud of the Week” for the Steelers this week? Make sure you vote in the poll as this is how the winner will be determined. And of course, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Poll

What was the Steelers "Dud of the Week" for Week 14?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Stopping Dalvin Cook
    (232 votes)
  • 0%
    Covering Justin Jefferson
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    Sustaining drives (The first 40 minutes)
    (28 votes)
  • 31%
    Immaturity
    (299 votes)
  • 6%
    Protecting the Quarterback
    (60 votes)
  • 33%
    Effort (The first 40 minutes)
    (314 votes)
942 votes total Vote Now