Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin normally does a good job of is driving a few messages home to his team each week. Each week brings its own theme. Tomlin preaches the theme all week and, if the Steelers win, you normally hear the players parrot their coach's theme post-game. This week, the theme was to contain Michael Vick. That's why this play was so frustrating.
This play was one of the few times that the Steelers got the Jets behind the chains. It was 2nd-and-11. The Steelers do a good job with coverage, but Mitchell makes a very selfish play. Contrast what he does with what Cameron Heyward does at the top of the screen. The Jets are max-protecting here; they keep seven players in to block. But Mitchell runs around the blocker instead of engaging the blocker and driving him into Vick.
The terrible play by Mitchell was exacerbated by Jason Worilds who, for some reason, tries to spin inside. When playing against a mobile QB, you have to have gap-integrity while rushing the passer, just as you would in the run game. Worilds leaves his gap and then widens the gap for Vick to run through. If Worilds and Mitchell simply do what they were told to do all week, the Jets have 3rd-and-long and maybe are held to a field goal.
Some days you have it and other days you need to command it. In a game like Sunday, when the referees have some questionable calls, one of your best players commits two fumbles, and the passing game isn't as crisp as in previous weeks, someone has to make a play to change the momentum of the game. William Gay had a chance to make that play, but he dropped the ball.
This is fantastic, zone-coverage by the Steelers. No one is open. Vince Williams also does a great job of staying with the receiver going through his zone once Vick scrambles. Vick makes a terrible decision. If Gay makes the interception, he might go a long way. There are three Steelers looking back at Gay; if one of them peels back and blocks Percy Harvin. Who else is going to tackle Gay? Vick is on the ground with James Harrison standing over him. By the way, notice how Harrison didn't get his feet behind Vick's. As a result, Vick couldn't just take off and run. And notice how Vick responded by making a bad decision? C'mon Mike Mitchell.
Of course, the offense made its share of mistakes also. This play had me totally baffled.
First of all, I have no idea why Ben Roethlisberger is rushing this play. The Steelers, up to this point, have already converted three 3rd-and-short plays in the game. Moreover, the Steelers have had a lot of success throwing touchdowns on short-yardage plays. Why rush this play? It simply doesn't make sense.
Beyond the mental mistake by Ben, the Steelers also had some physical mistakes. First of all, you cannot let Muhammad Wilkerson back door a double team and then get the foot of LeVeon Bell. If Wilkerson doesn't get Bell's foot, Bell probably falls forward and gets a first down. Maurkice Pouncey has to have better pad level than this. Not only does he get stood up, but he also allows the defender to shed off of him and get a hold of Bell. This is just bad technique by Pouncey.
Small errors like the ones highlighted here accumulated during this game to create a big loss for the Steelers on Sunday. The Steelers must find a way to play more disciplined and with better focus when they find themselves coming off of emotional wins.