12 Years Of Tom Terrific
The interesting thing about this years Steeler games, there’s always a point in each game where it seems we may have a chance to win, the week 9 match-up between Tom Terrific and the Black and Gold was no different. After bringing the score to 24-24 in the third quarter, it was time to sit on the edge of you seat and wave your terrible towel. Then of course the flood gates opened up and before you knew it, another classic ass-whooping from the quarterback we haven’t been able to beat for 12 years. The offense started out in typical fashion, studdering, spuddering, the first drive ending with a strip sack, etc. The second series was a flashback from Super Bowl 45, Big Ben under-throwing a wobbler from the end zone to a wide open receiver, only to be easily picked off by the safety. It would be unfair however to bash the offense in this game, there were some good moments and they did put up 31 points, certainly enough to beat any team on any given Sunday. There were of course the weekly follies, Big Ben sacked fives times, a strip sack, an interception. But in a rare moment of good play calling on two consecutive drives, they were able to move the ball effectively and all touchdown lobs were gorgeous. In fact Ben’s numbers were slightly short of being identical to Tom Terrific’s, sans the two interceptions. I like the sideline pass attempts to running back Le’Veon Bell, if he would’ve caught at least two of them they would’ve been for positive plays, one for a touchdown.
There were two other pass plays that would’ve produced touchdowns, both to Emanuel Sanders. For some strange reason instead of running his route towards the pylon, which is where the pass is intended and was thrown to, Sanders instead is running a hook route and looking in. Sanders doesn’t seem to be on the same page as Big Ben in most cases, not certain why but I doubt if the Steelers are going to retain his services for the 2014 season. Le’Von Bell is playing good, he runs with authority and aside from the dropped passes, he is a very good addition to the offense and has been productive in his rookie campaign, churning out 74 yards on 16 carries with a 4.6 average on the ground. However, I’m not certain why they’re not rotating Jonathan Dwyer in more, he came into the game and on one carry gained 30 yards, then was never used again.
An interesting turn of events indeed, from a goal line stand early in the first quarter to a complete meltdown in the fourth. Something’s got to give with these guys, the offense has a nice drive and a beautiful touchdown lob to Antonio Brown bringing the score to 10-17 with 1:55 left in the half. You can bet on this as sure as night turns into day, the defense gives up a drive resulting in a touchdown making is 10-24 right before the half. Regardless of who they play, that drive for the other team before the half seems to be a given.
So the offense storms back in the third quarter knotting the score at 24 all, the defense gives up a field goal making it 24-27 before the end of the quarter, that’s when the flood gates opened up. The Patriots scored effortlessly on all four possession in the fourth quarter, Tom Terrific carved us up like a Halloween pumpkin. Twelve years of this guy beating our ass is enough, and you’ve got veteran players like Troy Polamolu, Brett Keisel, Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor, they’ve all been there before, where is the pride, where is the knowledge of how this guy plays and what to do to stop him? By far the most embarrassing play of all was the touchdown by LaGarrette Blount. Taking a handful at the five yard line with 2:51 left in the game, somehow Steve McLendon broke through and had a bear hug on Blount 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage for what seemed like an eternity. Don’t ask where the rest of the defense was, because only Ziggy hood staggered over to help. Blount brushed them both off like rags dolls and barreled his way into the end zone for what was the final dagger and one of the most embarrassing single plays in football history.
And speaking of history, the most current milestone for this vaunted Steeler defense is the 55 points and 610 yards surrendered, it is the most given up by Pittsburgh in it’s entire 81 year history. I think that says enough about this current unit, how they could go from being number one a year ago, then drop like a dead weight straight to the very bottom. It’s hard to predict when they will improve, they will surely improve, but there honestly doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
The good thing about the special teams, Suisham only kicked one field goal, we actually scored touchdowns in this game. The bad thing about the special teams was the punt return to start the fourth quarter and the carnage that ensued. Newly signed punter [enter name], didn’t fair much better than his predecessor. Not sure why Felix Jones is still returning kicks, there has to be someone who can get the ball out past the twenty yard line every once in a while.
I’ve been saying it all year, it starts at the top. The Steelers were more unprepared for this game than any other match-up thus far. Offensively the play calling was keen on the two scoring drives in the third quarter, a good balance and mix of run and pass, including screens to Le’Veon Bell. Of course the melt-down in the fourth quarter was a total lack of coaching and play by play assignments, even though it was Tom Terrific doing his grand surgical slicing of our D, the secondary was woefully out of position and confused.
The are now plenty of Yinzers calling for the head of Coach Tomlin, and then those who refuse to accept perhaps that Coach LeBeau may finally have lost it. One can’t argue that this defense is suffering not so much for the lack of talent, but by virtue of the consistent meltdowns, the long laborious drives given up at the beginning of game and towards the end of the first half specifically. And not that there is a wealth of defensive guru’s looking for work in the NFL, but a change has to be made. As far as Tomlin being fired, not gonna happen in the foreseeable future, and it shouldn’t.
Time to accept where this team is, there is some good to cull from the marginal progress of these young players, but far to much ineptness that overshadows anything positive, and the record proves that. Last seasons record of 8-8 would be a welcome end to this season, but I don’t see it happening, 4-12 is more within’ reason. Even with eight games remaining, it’s time to start assessing next year, who stays, who goes, what should our draft needs be. This team lost it’s desire, toughness, and willingness to put it on the line. There is not so much a lack of talent, but more specifically the talent that is on the team is not being developed and motivated properly. Simply put, this team has bought into it’s own hype, just because the standard is the standard and the history of the team is based on toughness, you’ve still got to bring some ass to the fight.