Just as all hope, both actual and technical, was draining out of the season, the Steelers finally decided to show some passion by displaying the heart of a champion that we saw so often last year. Although they waited till the last possible moment, it was worth every second to see it finally come out. If they didn't muster it up in the waning seconds of yesterday's game, it would not have happened in any meaningful way this season.
After last week's game I had become dejected about this season basically wanting us to get the best draft pick we could and get rookies some reps to prepare for next season. Then I arrived back in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. I had to start dealing with what I perceived as irrational Steeler fans telling me every conceivable way that we could make the playoffs. My normal response was, "if you think we can make a run after losing to KC, Oakland and Cleveland, you are delusional." But guess what happened on Sunday? We won in incredible fashion. Plus, every team we needed to lose lost except Baltimore and we can take care of business at home next week as they come to town. We still need a lot of help and have to win out but I am starting to lean towards the irrational Steeler fans rather than my pessimistic view of things. It's much more fun to be optimistic, let's be honest.
Having said that, let's not get too excited. We can call it cautious optimism. The D still crumbled in the 4th quarter yet again. The coaching staff had so little confidence in the Defense- which is so unbelievable for a Steeler team that I am concerned for the people of hell- that they called an onside kick with under 4 minutes to play leading by 2! If you actually listen to Tomlin's rationale, it makes sense, given you buy into the fact that our D couldn't stop them. He reasoned that if we get the kick, our offense can win the game for us and if we don't, GB would score quick enough to get us the ball back with time and the offense could win it for us. This pretty much happened.
If you didn't think Bruce Arians should get canned before last night, I know there aren't many of you, but you should get on the bandwagon now. Troy Aikman made the comment that Bruce Arians does not talk to Ben about taking sacks and throwing the ball away because when he tried to have a similar conversation with a QB while at Mississippi State, it did not turn out well. Let me get this straight; a college kid 15 years ago did not appreciate being told he sucked. Is that any reason to not have a conversation with a professional QB who has won 2 Superbowl rings? Could the situations be any less similar? The number one way to improve Ben right now would be to get him to stop taking sacks that kill field goals and destroy field position. Coincidentally, you really did see Ben throwing a ball away on the final drive last night. In other firsts, the Steelers also threw a screen pass that worked last night, and it was the first time ever that a game ended with the score 37-36, marking the second consecutive season that the Steelers have been a participant when the ending score had never occurred previously. (San Diego 11-10 last year)
Continuing on the fire Bruce Arians path, the Steelers continue to "spread the field" with 5 wide sets, however I don't think teams are too afraid when 3 of the 5 receivers are Tyler Grisham, Rashard Mendenhall and Heath Miller. Yes, Heath is great but he is not beating anyone with his speed which is the key ingredient to making the spread work. The 5 wide, empty backfield formation killed us vs. Cleveland resulting in sacks like 15 times. Yet, we continued to come out in it again last night. Could we at least pretend like we might run the ball so opposing D's don't just get to rule out 50% of our plays?
What has happened to our tackling?
Also, GB has given up the most sacks in the league. How many did we have last night?
Our O was impressive against the number one D in the National Football League (channeling Ron Jaworski). Ben is one of 3 QB's in history to throw for 500 yards, 3 TD's and no interceptions. The other two: Warren Moon and Y.A. Tittle. My biggest complaint about Ben though is that he throws a terrible deep ball. Watch the first TD pass to Wallace. Ben just can't throw it far enough to hit him in stride, he is too fast. Wallace has to stop and wait for the ball. Luckily he was so far past the defender, he still couldn't catch up.
What a play to end the game. Great throw from Ben and amazing concentration from a rookie to get both feet in and keep control while going to the ground. Truthfully, I think teams would not want to face us in the playoffs.
Since we are back on the winning side of things, hopefully we will get some posts up this week, like what needs to happen to get us into the playoffs. Finally, there will be a special Christmas Eve edition of Tomlin Thursday this week because Christmas Eve is on Thursday! It was meant to be! Enjoy your Monday. Time to start shopping for Christmas.