I have finished my first five trips through the game tape of the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-10 win over the New York Jets and below are my notes from the first half of the game. The second half notes are being finished now and will be posted shortly.
The bubble screen to start to Antonio Brown was a great call to try to loosen up the Jets right off the bat.
Leonard Pope, Jerricho Cotchery and Willie Colon all missed blocks on the second down sweep to the left side. The 3rd and 10 end around to Brown on the sweep to the other side got the first down.
Loved the pass to Will Johnson out in the flat as he was lined up as an extra tight end in a 12 personnel grouping. If he is going to be in the game for a good amount of snaps, he needs to be used in the passing game at least a couple of times as he has great hands. 26 yards on the play.
The first sack was a total collapse by the offensive line as a unit against the stunts. Maurkice Pouncey was sat on his ass by the slanting linebacker that cleared the gap.
I knew Ike Taylor would open the game on rookie Stephen Hill, but ultimately he followed Santonio Holmes around for most of the game.
Keenan Lewis had a free run at Mark Sanchez for a sack on the Jets first drive and whiffed. This allowed Sanchez to at least throw the ball away to save distance. The pass interference on Taylor that followed was the first of many joke calls on the day.
The big play to Jeremy Kerley that followed almost looked like the Steelers were in cover-9, the same coverage that cost them the AFC Wild Card game. I can\'t wait to see this play on the all-22, but at least Lewis saved the touchdown.,
Great run read and stop for a loss by Lawrence Timmons.
On the touchdown to Holmes, Taylor had outside coverage over the top while Ryan Clark was supposed to be his help underneath. Clark bit on the play action and Sanchez had the easy back side throw to Holmes as Taylor was hung out to dry on the play looking into the backfield as well.
On the quick screen to Brown to open the next Steelers drive it was Heath Miller out front with a nice block. It was an empty backfield play with Chris Rainey lined up in the slot on the opposite side. Both Miller and Johnson followed that play up with nice blocks on the left edge to free Isaac Redman for his longest run of the day. Redman should be credited with a nice fake inside to clear the remaining linebacker Bart Scott out of the hole.
The 3rd and 8 back shoulder throw from Ben Roethlisberger to Brown was made possible by Baron Batch picking up blitzing Calvin Pace.
I did not like the end around call to Rainey on the 3rd and 4 play as it fooled nobody and the blocking was poorly executed.
On the Jets next possession, the Steelers broke out the 4-2-5 alignment that saw both outside linebackers off the field and a front four of Ziggy Hood, Casey Hampton, Cameron Heyward and Brett Keisel. Timmons was flagged for the late hit on Sanchez and that kept the drive alive for the Jets. Sanchez was never quite right after that play, but it might cost Timmons some pocket money as a result. This was not the last time we saw this defensive formation on the day.
The second call on Taylor was the right call, at least more right than the first one was, as there was an arm bar that was used on Holmes. Clark made a nice play on Hill after a well run route by the rookie to knock the ball away that would have been a huge play in the game.
Both Keisel and Hampton did not have a good second series defending the run.
Sanchez should have hit Holmes for another touchdown as he had inside position on Taylor in the endzone. Poor throw by Sanchez for sure as all he has to do is put it chest high or lower to Holmes.
On the 3rd and 10 throw to Brown on the Steelers next drive, it was once again Batch with a nice pickup that allowed Roethlisberger a throwing lane. Brown had his left arm held on the play and the ball hit him right in the chest. No call of course.
Nice three and out forced by the defense o the Jets next possession.
Another 3rd down conversion on a nice route by Emmanuel Sanders as he broke inside Kyle Wilson. The 2nd down catch by Sanders that followed was also across the middle and Roethlisberger had a great pocket to stand in and deliver the throw. Sanders drew the late hit call going out of bounds and the offense was on the move. It should be noted that Brown was doing his part blocking down the field on the play.
The run by Dwyer that followed to the right side was a result of nice blocks by Miller, Pope and Marcus Gilbert.
Roethlisberger avoided the safety pressure on the next 3rd down play as he stepped up and delivered the pass to Cotchery who somehow managed to hold onto the ball after taking a pop from Yeremiah Bell.
The touchdown to Miller was run out of a jumbo personnel group that saw three tight ends and a fullback on the field. The play-action to Dwyer following the fullback Johnson froze everyone and it allowed Miller to run away from Jets linebacker David Harris easily for the score.
The first half saw very inconsistent run blocking on the part of the offensive line, but I did like seeing a few pass plays that made use of a moving pocket. Roethisberger had a good first half as did Miller, Sanders and Brown.
Defensively it was Clark that stuck out the most and his pass defense on Hill was a key play during the first half.