Heart Of A Lion
The offense got off to a rollicking start on their first possession by going ‘no huddle’, I loved it. Big Ben orchestrated a methodical march mixed with run and pass, converting 3rd and 8, 3rd and 6, then 3rd and 11. On first down at Detroit’s 45, Ben launched a short out to Antonio Brown who then used some fancy footwork to side step two defenders then jaunt his way 34 yards for a big time TD. The next drive was no huddle as well and produced the same stellar results with Big Ben hitting AB on an in route which he then took 47 yards to the house for another dazzling display of catch and run. However Ben convinced the coaching staff to let him come out swingin’, I’m glad he did. I did think for a minute he could call the rest of the game himself, as did Terry Bradshaw back in the day, then I said “nah”. But it did work wonderfully and was certainly a refreshing change from the normal 3 and out that is usually how they kick games off. The fun continued at the start of the second quarter when on the Lions second possession, Will Allen stripped Reggie Bush and Laurence Timmons recovered. Still using the no huddle, the offense cashed in on a nifty field goal.
The third quarter was a stalemate, they were however able to get a field goal on the final possession. What happened in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty. After the Lions attempted a fake field following their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Steelers took over at their own 3. They proceeded to march the entire length of the field on a well crafted 16 play drive taking over eight minutes off the clock, again mostly using the no huddle offense. I love the touchdown lob to Will Johnson on 2nd down from the one, I’ve been screaming for this play all year, as well as to get the ball in Johnson’s capable hands every game. After Detroit went three and out on the next series, Pittsburgh took over at the 34 and in five plays was celebrating the game clinching score on a sweet but simple out route to Jericho Cotchery.
On one hand the defense shut them down in the second half, on the other hand, Oiyee! The lions ended up shooting themselves in the foot in the first quarter, over throwing wide open receivers and leaving about 21 points on the field. They got their footing with 10 minutes left in the second quarter and put up 24 points, hitting Calvin Johnson on a 79 yard bomb, then another 20 seam pass. It’s a safe bet that’s what put a lot of empty seats in the stadium for the second half, I was ready to pay my tab and move on myself. However this game was a tale of two halves, and the second was as good a football game as they’ve played all year. Now the media will spin it as the poor dome team that couldn’t get their footing in the rain and slush of Heinz field during the second half, let me remind everybody, this is football, a man’s game. And furthermore, what will these in house Lions do come play-off time if they have to travel to a cold whether city with an outdoor stadium, simply put they got their asses’ handed back to them in the second half and I’m proud of my team.
Now, that’s not to say this unit is now a force to be reckoned with. The breakdowns in the secondary are still very disconcerting, why Ryan Clark and Polomalu would leave Ike in single coverage with the best receiver in the game, is beyond me. On the 79 yard bomb, Clark decides to shoot up to help the DB on a sideline route while Megatron is blowing right past him at full speed. It’s still difficult understanding why the secondary is so porous this year, two savvy veterans getting burned and seemingly out of position on many occasions. In fact it was newly re-signed Will Allen who made the two big plays, including forcing a fumble then interception late in the game to set up the final score. This defense is going to need a facelift in the upcoming off season, but for now they shut out a potent offense in the second half of this game and that’s all that matters.
Antonio Brown continues to be the punt return man, and rightfully so, AB is on fire and in this game was running rings around Detroit. Unfortunately the return coverage still leaves little to be desired, not so sure they shouldn’t still be looking for a new punter as well. The big play of the game by far was the fake field goal to start the 4th quarter. Those type of plays are always a gamble and if they get the first down, Haed Coach Jim Schwartz is a genius. Fortunately for us he ended up being the goat, but certainly credit needs to be given to the Steelers for immediately recognizing the fake and of course causing and recovering the fumble.
Credit must be given to Coach Tomlin and his staff, one for not letting the team sag and two, for allowing his quarterback to have more control over the game by allowing the no huddle offense so frequently.
You’ll hear the talk about how the Steelers had the edge because of the rain, and no one wants to give them any credit towards moving forward, but hey, 4-6 can easily turn into 5-6 with a win this week in Cleveland and let the uphill climb continue, we’ll take it.
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