Steelers Come Back and Bow Out in Final Frame

I hope the ref can make that tackle.

Having erased an 18-point fourth quarter deficit largely through the passing game and facing a 3rd and 6 inside three minutes that, if converted, could have won the game for the Steelers, what does offensive guru Bruce Arians dial up? A quarterback bootleg run to the side of the line starting Trai Essex at tackle.

It's of little wonder that, given the ball back with great field position, the Jags were able to turn back a Pittsburgh comeback much as they did in the regular season meeting. Whether it was critical first half turnovers or special teams blunders, the mindless mistakes negated what seemed like solid gameplanning by the Steelers. They game out with a quick passing attack opening drive that lacerated the Jags' D and was solid against the run almost the entire game, for the exception of spying David Garrard, who has thrown three of his five picks this year against the Steelers.

Credit is due, especially to Hines Ward and Heath Miller, for leading the charge back when many other teams would have been content to fold late. The defense brought heat late in the game like they haven't in months. As one-dimensional as the offense was all game, once it got going - and it only took three quarters - it was slicing through the Jacksonville defense. It was a game the Steelers gave away twice, with terrible mistakes early on and bad playcalling late.

At the risk of sounding embittered, the officiating in this game was almost criminally bad. Silverback looked like he was held on a half dozen plays. The Jags clearly jumped on the short run that was their first score. How Santonio's catch at the end of the third quarter was overturned, I'll never know. For an extra nut-stomping, on the pick-six Ben Roethlisberger threw to Rashean Mathis, Gary Russell was hit with the same low blocking call when trying for a tackle like when Matt Hasselbeck received the same infraction in the Super Bowl against us.

Fitting, of course, that the Steelers season ended with a Roethlisberger sack.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the officials made that phantom sean mahan holding call on the 2 point conversion. I don't wanna hear any crap about Tomlin making a mistake going for 2, from the 12. An xp would have had them down by 1, and they lost by 2. So it made no difference if they took the XP, but it woulda made a diff if they had not gotten jobbed by the officials.

Offensive playcalling in 2nd quarter was nuts. Got too conservative, and why did we stop passing? Run up the middle. Stuff. Run up the middle. Stuff. Run off tackle, loss. Run screen, loss. Sheesh.

Still though, get an offensive line in the offseason, and let's see what Big Ben can really do.

Bobby Steels said...

Ouch. They could have just saved us the agony and replayed last month's game.

The only silver lining that I can find is that we are spared another afternoon of hearing Phil Simms find things to blame on Benito Grande.

An aside: The rumors have been floated around for a few weeks, with little mention on most Steelers sites, but what if the unthinkable happens and Cowher takes the Baltimore job? I'd like to think that Cowher, out of principle, would never accept that job, but this isn't a game of principle. What do we do as Steelers fans? I'm all for supporting ex-Steelers in new unis (J-Peezy!) but I think this would cross a line.

Christmas Ape said...

If Cowher signs with Baltimore, he's a traitorous pigdog and I will curse his name until my throat is sore.

sides said...

2nd and 1 from Jags 1: Pass
3rd and 1 from Jags 1: Pass
4th and 1 from Jags 1: No choice but to pass

--Bailed out by interference--

Run from the 1 - TD immediately

3rd and 6 - Revert to 2nd and 1

Bruce Arians can rot

TheStarterWife said...

Anonymous - The play calling in the 2nd changed right after Ben's INTs, like he could not return from making those mistakes.

MDultrarunner said...

Ironic that the biggest concern, Trai Essex, actually played well. And the smallest concern, Big Ben's passing, actually screwed them over. I thought Ben had fixed his penchant for throwing picks this year. I mean, isn't he a Pro Bowl QB?!? Yes, very fitting that the game ended with a sack. Maybe next year he'll learn to throw the ball away.

This game was so painful to watch. Only the Steelers could rip my heart out in this way. I think a blowout would have been easier to swallow.

The officiating--damn, where's J-Peezy to call out the refs when you need him?

Christmas Ape said...

Essex did play better than I expected. Cut Ben some fucking slack. There was no running game. He had to do everything last night and he nearly pulled it out.

Spatula said...

Intercepted by a DT! WFT?! Had the game ended with that play, it would have been emblematic of the last 6-7 games

MDultrarunner said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound as though Ben was completely to blame; it's a good point that he had no run game to work with. And he DID lead the team all the way back in the second half. Still, it's unfathomable that he threw that second pick and that the third was picked off by at DT.

Christmas Ape said...

I'm with you on that second pick. It was his worst throw of the season, compounded by the fact that Santonio was open 10 yards in front of Davenport.

Anonymous said...

I'm done giving a shit about the NFL. I still think it is entertaining, but as a sport it has recently degraded to the point that it falls somewhere on the spectrum between figure skating and professional wrestling. These can be fun to watch because of the displays of almost super-human physical skills and revealing female costumes, but they all share a major flaw: If you care about the outcome, it ruins the experience. This is entirely due to the way in which people other than the competitors determine the outcomes.

I don't think that NFL games are choreographed like wrestling. I do think that in figure skating, though, if you commit a blatant foul for everyone to see then you are penalized for it, and this is why skating is more of a real sport than the NFL. ("Oh no, she's fallen on her ass...but there's no flag from the judges! She wins the gold!!")

The Steelers-Jags playoff game was the final straw for me for reasons that should have been obvious to anyone who watched it. I'm not going into any conspiracy theories lest I start to resemble a Ravens fan, but it seems as if the game officials this year have had a bias towards producing outcomes that favor TV ratings over fair play.

Old said...

No need to sound like a bunch of Seahawk fans. The Steelers should never have put themselves in the position to let the refs decide the game. Who's gap was it that Gerrard ran through on fourth and two? Who thought Mahan could come remotely close to replacing Hartings? Who coaches the special teams when he isn't e-mailing porn to every one in the league and does he still have a job?

Old said...

Sorry, mixed up my coaches who should be fired. The o-line coach for sent the porn. O-line coach should go for that and the terrible play of the o-line all year, and Mahan. Special Teams coach should go just on general principle.

Anonymous said...

Not to be a shitepoke or anything, but the Seahawks have a point--albeit less of one than the Steelers would have about this game. There is a difference between being on the wrong end of ticky-tack but correct calls (i.e. Jackson did push off and Locklear was holding in SBXL) that still don't win you the game if they go your way, as opposed to blatant phantom calls and non-calls that swing at least 5 points in a 2-point game. Watch Garrard's scramble and you'll see at least 4 offensive players committing more blatant holding penalties than the one Locklear was called for; Hampton was bear-hugged and dragged to the ground right in front of an official.

As much as it sucks to be eliminated by the guys in the striped shirts, there's also a lot of suck involved with having to listen to people talk about how your team had help. We know that the Steelers didn't need the help in SBXL, but it has to suck more for the Homer Simpsons in Jacksonville to know that without the help they wouldn't be getting their asses handed to them by the most hated team in sports this weekend, and likely taking their turn on the receiving end of the zebras' strap-ons in the process. While that's going on I'll watch a real sport on ESPN2 like figure skating or pro bowling.