The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Miami Dolphins in Week 7 of regular season action. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.
Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game...
Stat Line: 6 catches, 61 yards, 10.2 average, 1 TD, 30 yard long, 6 targets
Another day where George Pickens catches every football thrown his way. There are a lot of people suggesting the Steelers should just chuck the ball in his direction regardless of the coverage. I get the sentiment, but it doesn’t really play out in that way. Pickens is doing his job, and is demanding a lot of coverage coming his way. With Pickens doing this, it should be the other receivers feasting on one-on-one matchups...and that isn’t happening. Nonetheless, Pickens is every bit as-advertised.
Defensive Bounce Back
Stat Line: Settled in after 13 1st quarter points
After surrendering 13 first quarter points, it was good to see the defense bounce back. The coaches and players both settled in and frustrated the high-flying Dolphins attack. You would hope it wouldn’t take 13-points in the opening quarter to wake up a defense, but at least they did it eventually.
Stat Line: 8 catches, 75 yards, 9.4 average, 0 TD, 21 long, 9 targets
Coming off his concussion, Freiermuth looked every bit the dynamic tight end fans have wanted to see this season. He is developing a really great rapport with Kenny Pickett, and it was great to see him back on the field after suffering another concussion two weeks ago in Buffalo. Freiermuth seems to be the only player who is either willing, or permitted, to utilize the middle of the field, and the 21-yard catch he had in the 4th quarter was evidence those plays can succeed.
Defensive Backs Catching Footballs
Stat Line: 4, maybe 5, dropped INTs
Watching the defensive backs on Sunday night reminded me of watching games with my brother during the early 2000s. We’d watch Ike Taylor drop interception after interception. My brother would always say, “If they could catch, they’d play offense.” He was right then, and he’s right now. The thing is, if the Steelers can cash in on just one, or two, of those interceptions, it changes the entire outcome of the game. One team made the plays, the other let them fall through their fingers...literally.
Stat Line 41.8 average, lacks consistency
One of the reasons I couldn’t stand Jordan Berry during his time with the Steelers was his lack of consistency. Well, I’m nearing that same feeling with Harvin. I know Harvin doesn’t punt as well away from home, but being in warm weather should help, right? Wrong. Harvin’s 23-yard punt in the first half only typified the up-and-down performance. I don’t ask for much, but consistency is one thing which is a must.
Stat Line: Play calling is an issue
What else can be said which hasn’t already been said? The “cute” plays on first down, the lulls where run, run, pass, punt seems like it’s the objective? The scripted plays which wouldn’t work in pop warner? The lack of preparation coming off a timeout/half? Just awful...at this point Canada isn’t just coaching to see success, he’s coaching for his career.
‘0’ 2nd Half Points
Stat Line: See above
Both teams showed flashes of brilliance at times, but there were very few of those sparks in the second half. Both Miami and Pittsburgh were offensively offensive by scoring zero points in quarters three and four. Just bad football.
Stat Line: 32/44, 257 yards, 5.8 average, 1 TD, 3 INT, 2 sacks for 11 yards, 66.2 Rating / 3 rushes, 20 yards
In case anyone didn’t know, these “losers” are not ranked in any specific order. I literally just go through my game notes, the box score and what I saw and list the players who didn’t play well. With that being said, Pickett was a loser on Sunday night. Anyone who has watched football knew there would be those rookie mistakes. Dick LeBeau used to feast on rookie quarterbacks, knowing exactly what to do to throw them off their game. We saw some of those moments in prime time. Before the game, I was wondering if Pickett would have that “moment” where he proves to everyone that he’s the next “guy” for the Steelers. He had two of those moments on Sunday night and failed on both occasions, ending the drives with interceptions. I hope he learns from a performance like this one.
Stat Line: 3rd Down - 4-for-14 / Red-Zone - 1-for-2
The Steelers’ inability to win those key downs was a determining factor in not just the score, but also the overall flow of the game. 4-for-14 on third downs is atrocious, and one of the reasons I cringed every time I saw the Steelers had another 3rd and short. If you are converting 3rd and short with ease, then you set up the plays to create those downs and distances. However, at this time, the Steelers can make a 3rd and 3 feel like 3rd and a country mile.
Stat Line: 0 sacks, 1 QB Hit
Think this defense is starting to figure things out without T.J. Watt? While they might be doing that on the back end, the pass rush isn’t figuring out anything. I know Alex Highsmith entered Week 7 as the NFL’s leader in sacks, but the Steelers pass rush barely even got a finger on Tua on Sunday night. The longer this team plays, the more you realize they are a one-man-band when it comes to T.J. Watt.
Stat Line: 5-for-40 yards
When it comes to penalties in this game, it wasn’t so much the how many, but when those penalties occurred. Think about the drive in the 4th quarter. It starts outside of 4 minutes and works into the red-zone to create a 3rd and short. Illegal shift call gets turned into a 3rd and 6. A Dan Moore holding penalty turns it to 3rd and 16. Now, backed up, the Steelers have to change their philosophy and Pickett’s pass is intercepted. Those penalties changed the dynamic of the game, and not for the better.
If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!