It Could’ve Been Worse: Steelers-Patriots recap

The Steelers lost last night, which shouldn’t surprise many people.  What may surprise people is the manner in which they lost–missed field goals, miscues on offense, Darius Heyward-Bey not being able to stay inbounds in the end zone.  It was actually more frustrating to see them lose in this fashion.

Let’s start with the good stuff, since that list will be shorter.

  • DeAngelo Williams.  Wow, was he better than anyone could’ve expected.  As many people on Twitter pointed out, can you imagine what Le’Veon Bell will do behind this offensive line if DeAngelo Williams can put up 127 yards?
  • Antonio Brown continues to be superhuman.
  • Markus Wheaton looked good, especially catching a pass that was out of bounds but managing to stay inbounds.  He also caught a pass for a two-point conversion on the Steelers first touchdown.
  • The defense wasn’t as bad as we all thought.  Holding the Patriots to 28 points isn’t bad.  Having no one cover Gronkowski is very, very bad though the Steelers lack the personnel to properly cover him (to be fair, so do most NFL defenses).  They forced some stops to keep the Steelers in the game, but the offense couldn’t take advantage.
  • The offensive line played pretty well.  The running game was great, they kept Ben Roethlisberger upright for most of the night, and gave absolutely stellar pass protection at times.  Makes the loss of Maurkice Pouncey a little easier to swallow.
  • Bud Dupree with a sack of Tom Brady just a few minutes into his NFL career.  I’ll take it.

And now for the bad…

  • Yeah, having no one even attempting to cover Gronk on a few plays is not a good look.  Neither is having Terence Garvin cover him.
  • I trust the coaches when it comes to stuff like this, but how bad is Brandon Boykin that he can’t get on the field over Cortez Allen and Antwon Blake?
  • Josh Scobee missing two field goals was huge.  Totally different game if he makes those.
  • 1st and goal at the 1-yard line and you settle for a field goal?
  • Heyward-Bey not knowing where the chalk was in the end zone.  Inexcusable for a veteran.
  • Clock management was a problem.  Pretty sure I could write this after every game and be correct.  The Steelers should’ve taken a timeout before the Heyward-Bey end zone play right before the half.  It’s Tomlin’s team, but I feel like the team would be well-served to have a guy who just tells him when to take timeouts.

Speaking of Tomlin, he was sure hot last night when asked about the headset problems during the 1st half.  I’m sure he opened another can of worms.  Of course, who can blame him?  The Patriots will never be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to stuff like this, especially after the recent Outside the Lines report, which mentioned the frequent communication issues that occur in Gillette Stadium.  Tomlin confirmed that with his postgame remarks.  This will be nonstop fodder for awhile, but don’t hold your breath that the league will actually do something about it.

Update:  The Steelers website had some strong words about the headset issue (I refuse to call this “headsetgate”).  There’s a great write-up on Deadspin today about what could have went wrong with the headsets and how many other times this has happened in Foxborough in recent years.

Final thoughts on the game:  Yes, the defense was bad.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  They also aren’t the first defense to have issues with covering Gronkowski.  Between the missed field goals, and settling for field goals after Heyward-Bey’s mistake and not being to score from the 6-inch line, they left 14 points on the field.  That’s the difference in the game.  The don’t blow those opportunities, who knows what happens.  I had this penciled in as a loss all offseason (I had zero faith that Brady’s suspension would be upheld).

Fun stuff from last night

As predicted, someone on Twitter would call for Michael Vick to start:

Bill Belichick wore his finest Ebenezer Scrooge pajama top:

belichick pj

Looking good, Bill

Bill Simmons continued to be an insufferable homer


Calls came for the return of Dick LeBeau, including from former Ravens head coach/Steelers nemesis Brian Billick.

(I feel the need to point out that the last time a LeBeau defense–one that still had Polamalu, Keisel, and Ike, no less–faced the Patriots, the Pats hung 55 on them.  I’m no mathematician, but 55 is a lot more than 28…)

Yinzers called for Jeff Reed after Scobee’s missed field goals.  Jeff Reed, who hasn’t been on an NFL roster for 4 seasons.

One game in, and Steelers Nation has already reached midseason form of ridiculousness. Oh football season, how I’ve missed you.  Beat the Niners next week, and this game is whatever.  Go Steelers.


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