AFC North Aftermath: Steelers @ Patriots

AFC North Aftermath: Steelers @ Patriots
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This won’t be a weekly piece, but after such a high profile game to start the season, and absolutely nothing NFL related happening for another 48 hours, why not take five minutes to make some comments instead of a “Roundup”.

Concerning the game, the undermanned Steelers were an afterthought by most prognosticators but rocketed out of the starting gate against the Patriots.

The Steelers’ first five plays went for 56 yards and four first downs.

Instead of riding the momentum, with the Patriots defense on their heels, offensive coordinator Todd Haley opted for an ill-timed, ill-conceived, poorly executed double pass attempt to Antonio Brown, killing said momentum, and setting the tone for the rest of the first half.

The Steelers drive stalled after conservatively moving into field goal range. They then realized how important a steady place kicker is to a team’s success, as the drive ended with a missed 44 yard field goal. That next two drives ended in a punt and yet another missed field goal.

Steelers fans could be heard screaming SCOBEE! DOH… BEE… doh. (absolutely horrible… continues writing in shame)

The Steelers completed the half with a promising drive that had a puzzling end. First, they had the ball 1st and 10 at the Patriots 31 with 43 seconds left and called a timeout. Unfortunately they only moved another 5 yards in 24 seconds and were nonchalant with clock management. Second, Ben Roethlisberger threw to a wide open Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone, but somehow Bey’s toe found the sideline as he went to a knee to catch the ball. Darrius has to make that play.

All told, the Steelers left 10 points on the field in the first half and were down by 11, 14-3.

Meanwhile, instead of conversing with his coaches, Head Coach Mike Tomlin was apparently chatting it up with the Patriots broadcasting team “for the majority of the first half”. Not sure who was behind that…

During the second half, the Steelers made it semi-exciting in the 3rd quarter after giving up a touchdown on the Patriots opening drive. They scored a TD of their own, followed by a two-point conversion and a field goal making it a 7-point game.

The Patriots subsequently drove to the Steelers one and fumbled but no Steeler was able to locate the ball. Patriots scored. Game over.

On the bright side, the Steelers showed promise while playing without their #1 running back and #2 wide receiver. Their replacements, especially at RB were more than adequate. They put up almost 500 yards in offense, meaning they are extremely deep at the skill positions.

On the defensive side, the Steelers often lost containment, and had communication breakdowns leading to what seemed to be easy and efficient touchdown drives. They struggled on 3rd down defense allowing the Patriots to covert 7 of 11 attempts, and inexplicably lost sight of Gronkowski on a couple of occasions. However, they also forced four punts, about what the Patriots averaged in 2014, and giving up 28 points might be high on average, but would generally keep the offense within striking distance.

Overall, the Patriots made more plays as the coaches like to say. The Steelers weren’t without chances, but better team won last night. The Steelers will get better, and the Patriots weren’t without holes.

Next up: what should be an easy game as the 49ers take a trip to Heinz Field.

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