I have been through the tape of the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Denver Broncos several times now and here are some of my notes that I made from the first half of the game. The second half notes will be along shortly and all of our charting projects are wrapping up as well and should be posted over the next few days.
Chris Carter and Brett Keisel taken care of easily on very first running play. Lawrence Timmons gets to the hole, but arm tackle not enough.
First blitz picked up easily by Broncos.
Great play by Larry Foote on first pass breakup. Foote also easily avoided Knowshon Moreno on his early sack with great work by Carter to clear out left tackle Ryan Clady.
Bad tackling effort on the early bubble screen to Demaryius Thomas by Keenan Lewis.
Props to Foote for causing the fumble with the flailing arm. You just never know what will happen if you stick a hand in there from any angle.
I tried to warn everyone that Leonard Pope was not a good blocker. Von Miller tossed him aside easily on Steelers second possession.
Perfect cross stunt on the first sack of Ben Roethlisberger as Willie Colon had no chance of getting Derek Wolfe as he twisted around.
The early 3rd down conversion by the Broncos deep in their own end was a real let down. Cortez Allen had a poor attempt on the tackle that allowed even more YAC. Brandon Stokley also had Allen turned around on the route.
Sack by Jason Worilds was too easy.
Gold star for David Paulson for the crushing block on the good punt return by Antonio Brown to end the first quarter.
First Quarter Recap: There was nothing really alarming in the first quarter to suggest the defense would have later problems except for no consistent pressure. The sacks certainly helped give you good feeling early on, but they dried up quick. The Steelers offense was sluggish to start and the blocking up front was not impressive or dominating in the least.
The double end around fooled nobody and took way too long to develop. Chris Rainey did have a nice block on the play nonetheless.
Great run by Jonathan Dwyer after seeing nothing inside and bouncing out to the left. I admire the effort by Mike Wallace trying to block on the play, something he rarely does, but the hold hurt a nice run.
On the next play it was a great call to go to Will Johnson out of the backfield. The kid has great hands and should be used at least twice a game like that.
Champ Bailey showed his veteran know-how on the quick slant to Brown on 1st and goal.
The second down play to Heath Miller was a great play call and design, but nicely defensed by Keith Brooking. Miller just did not have enough room to work with.
On third down there should of been a delay of game, but the referee gave Roethlisberger the timeout instead. On third down an out of position Tracy Porter makes a nice play on the ball intended for Miller, who was wide open. I am sure that he never thought Porter would be in that lane. Tough break and hard to fault Roethlisberger for not putting enough air underneath it. The Broncos were lucky as that was a blown assignment.
The Manning scramble for a first down on the following drive really hurt. Worilds fell down early on his rush via a spin move and never got up. Timmons seemed to be running in quicksand after getting the pressure through the gap. Manning ran away from him. Yikes.
Late in the Broncos first scoring drive is really when you notice the no-huddle taking the gas out of the defense as the line is sluggish off of the snap and stood up easily.
On the touchdown run by Moreno, Carter gets easily trapped inside by Stokley. By him getting trapped inside, it closed the lane that Timmons had to make the tackle, although I\'m not sure he makes it anyways. Ziggy Hood was held on the play, but wasn\'t called.
The false start by Max Starks I really thought was going to kill the drive at the end of the first half. That drive was classic Roethlisberger. Spiking the ball on first down with over 30 seconds left in the half was a very poor decision. Why not take a shot at the endzone there? The fade to Wallace on second down I understand, I just didn\'t necessarily like the call. Nice jerk route by Miller for the score out of 21 personnel. Both Rainey and Dwyer flare out on the play which opened up the middle for Miller to work the linebacker. That was the right call. Make note of that personnel grouping as you will see it again.
Second Quarter Recap: Far from perfect, but could have been worse. At least the offense kept Manning off of the field a long time and the late score meant that the offense gets the ball again to start the second half. The cracks in the defense were starting to show. Although they had the lead at the half, you knew that Manning was not going to be silenced in the second half. It was a lead, but should have been more.
The second half notes will be along shortly.