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Welcome to SteezBros! SteezBros is a Steeler Blog run by three brothers who are all huge Steeler fans. If the true definition of fan is fanatic, we fit the bill. We were born into Steeler fandom. Love of the Steelers goes back many generations in our family. It's in our blood. You can read our "Welcome to SteezBros" post in the archive if you are interested in more information about us and the blog. Thanks for reading and check back often!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ughhh, Steelers Lose

In a game they controlled throughout, the Steelers found a way to lose to the Bears 17-14 in Chicago. Jeff Reed missed two field goals - either one of which probably would have won the game for the Steelers.

Steeler nation is getting used to watching games like the one played at Chicago. Tight games that could go either way at the end. Except, we're accustomed to winning the games at the end.

Big Ben led the team on another late 4th quarter drive to put the team in position to take the lead. After driving to the Bears 25, Roethlisberger threw deep on 3rd and 2 to Santonio Holmes in the end zone. The ball went right through Holmes hands - his third drop of the day.

What followed was a sight Pittsburgh was unused to seeing. Jeff Reed missed a game changing field goal.

Maybe I should rephrase that. Because Reed missed exactly that kind of field goal 8 minutes earlier in the game.

No matter how the media portrays it, the reason for a loss never falls completely on one man. And it was once again true on Sunday.

Reed missed a 38 yard field goal that would have put the Steelers up 10 with 11 minutes to play. A difficult situation for the Bears for sure. And the miss drastically shifted momentum to the Bears. Still, the defense allowed its second long drive of the evening - a 70+ yard touchdown drive - after allowing a 97 yard drive earlier in the game.

Later, after a 43 yard miss from Reed, the defense again allowed a long drive that put Bears kicker Robbie Gould in position to win.

And don't forget about the Santonio drop that would have put the Steelers up 7 with 3 minutes to play.

It was a team loss.

Nonetheless, it's hard to believe the Steelers would have lost if Reed did his job on Sunday.

Here are some other thoughts from the game:

-Let's give credit, where credit is due. Jay Cutler played well on Sunday. Mainly, he did what he couldn't do against the Packers - take what the defense gave him. Cutler rarely threw downfield, but took advantage of quick throws underneath to tight ends and Johnny Knox to negate the Steelers pass rush. Cutler was calm, cool, and collected in leading the Bears to game-tying and game -winning drives. He eluded the pass rush several times to make accurate throws downfield. I'm not a fan of Cutler's, but he played a good game on Sunday.

- How impressive was that first drive from Ben Roethlisberger? Getting no help from the running game, he led the Steelers on a 92 yard, touchdown drive to set the tone early. It was the first touchdown scored by the Steelers in the first quarter in 11 straight games (including playoffs).

- I continue to be impressed by Roethlisberger and the pass protection in the first two games, but it's getting a little frustrating to only score 14 and 13 points the first two games. Sure, the Steelers should have had 20 against the Bears, but the offense is going to have to do more.

- Several factors contributed to the lack of points scored.

Mistakes: two missed field goals and a drop in the end zone.

No easy points - the defense didn't force any turnovers and the return game was less than stellar due to multiple penalties.

Poor field position - The average starting field position for the Steelers was their own 22 yard line. Meaning they had to go at least 50 yards to get into position for a long field goal.

The mistakes and field position can be fixed. But the defense needs to make more big plays.

- Speaking of the defense, it has three sacks in two games. That's a pace of 24 sacks for the season. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison have combined for 0 sacks. I'm not overly concerned, because they continue to pressure the quarterback. The Bears almost never left Harrison one-on-one with Orlando Pace, but when the outside backers are attracting this much attention, someone else needs to get pressure. I trust Dick LeBeau to fix this issue.

- The defense missed Troy. Tyron Carter had a big hit on Greg Olsen, but was repeatedly targeted by the Bears in the passing game. He was the main defender on both touchdowns in the game and was beat several other times. After the game, he said should have called timeout before the game tying touchdown to Johnny Knox because he knew he couldn't stay with him in single coverage because of his injured left thigh. "I think I kind of hurt my team by not coming out of the game or by not calling a timeout." You think?

-I was encouraged by the play of the offensive line. Big Ben had lots of time to throw and the line opened up big holes in the running game in the second half. There were still sacks and poor runs, but it was much better than the Titans game. Overall, the Steelers averaged 4.8 yards per rush.

- Dan Sepulveda was outstanding. He averaged 54.3 yards per kick. And the hang time and directional kicking rendered Devin Hester a non-factor.

- There are signs of life for Rashard Mendenhall. The 39 yard run was great, but the reception and cut back run was the most exciting play of the day. Maybe it will give him and the coaching staff more confidence to get him more involved in the game plan.
- After two straight outstanding games, Santonio Holmes went back to his frustrating self. Holmes, who has become the most targeted Steeler receiver, started off the game well (by stealing a pass intended for Heath), but returned to his erratic ways in the second half dropping three passes and missing what could have been the game winning touchdown. He still looks outstanding running routes, but making the routine plays and eliminating drops is the only way to become an elite receiver.

- While we are on the subject of Santonio, I'm going to go on record as not liking the deep throw to Santonio on third and two with three minutes left. Despite the fact Santonio should have caught it, I disliked the call for two reasons. 1. It was a low percentage play. 2. The Steelers would have been better getting a short first down and running more time off the clock. There are no guarantees a short pass would have worked (or maybe the play call was for a short pass and Roethlisberger saw Holmes open deep), but I was hoping to leave minimal clock time for Cutler and the Bears. It's all Monday morning quarterbacking. But this is a blog - it's what we get paid to do.
-After winning the Super Bowl I promised to go easier on Bruce Arians. I think he continues to improve, as evident by the 4th and inches pass to Matt Spaeth. The acknowledgment that we have no short yardage running game is an improvement, but it doesn't negate the sad fact that we need to throw on every 3rd and 4th and short. That said, I'm still not loving the offensive game plans. Let's leave it at that.

-The Bears took advantage short passes. The Steelers had a tough time defending it without the speed of Troy and with Lawrence Timmons not at 100%

- Finally, I'm not going to panic after one loss. The Steelers should have won this game, but let it get away when a normally dependable player, Jeff Reed, played a terrible game. The Steelers are in the middle of the toughest part of its schedule. If it can play the first four games in 2-2, I think the team will be just fine when it reaches the stretch of the schedule with Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota, Denver, Cincy, Kansas City, Baltimore, Oakland, Cleveland.

-The Bengals are next week. Ben is undefeated in Ohio. I feel better already.

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