Steelers Versus Titans Game Rewind – Second Half Notes
On Sunday I posted my first half notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans and here now are my second half notes from the game.
The Titans give a gift early on with a late hit and Ben Roethlisberger hits Heath Miller for another first down after that. A dump off to Isaac Redman that sees the running back once gain extra yards after the catch, has the offense moving even though they are not running the ball well to start the half. Roethlisberger audibles on the next play and even tells the defense what is coming by yelling, “pike, pike”. A couple of nice runs and Roethlisberger just misses Will Johnson on the wheel route for a touchdown. On third and goal Roethlisberger sails it out of the back on the endzone and the drive stalls in the red zone.
The Titans run the outside zone to the left on first down for good yardage and it is blocked very well. Nate Washington beats Ike Taylor on a skinny post as Washington gets a free release off the line and deeks Taylor to the outside. With no safety in the middle it is an easy pitch and catch as the Steelers rush only four and get no pressure. Larry Foote then comes on a X blitz and sacks Matt Hasselbeck, who then fumbles, but the Titans quarterback recovers and the Steelers miss out on the turnover. It does back them out of field goal range, though, and the Titans are forced to punt.
Roethlisberger converts on third down to Miller on the next drive under pressure as Max Starks is beat on the left side. Antonio Brown drops a contested slant and the play is overturned after initially ruled a catch. On the sack fumble that was ruled a tuck, Mike Martin destroys Doug Legursky after timing the snap count perfectly. Ramon Foster is injured on the play as well, but is able to return after the play review. Roethlisberger avoids pressure once again on third down and converts to Miller in the middle of the field. The pass protection is real shaky on this drive. Willie Colon missed the switch on the stunt. Baron Batch gets loose on a nice draw with Legursky out front. After another third down conversion to Emmanuel Sanders the chains continue to move on a drive with no rhythm. A quick screen to Chris Rainey, who had motioned to the right slot, goes for good yardage thanks to a blocks by Miller and David Paulson. If Miller misses the kick out, the play is blown up easily. Pass interference gives the ball to the Steelers at the one. On second down Roethlisberger gets away with forcing one to Miller, who is covered tightly by a linebacker on the play. Batch scores on a third down run to the right that featured good down blocks inside by Mike Adams and Leonard Pope. Miller and Johnson also do enough on the play to make the score happen. The drive was clunky, but the offense found a way to score.
The dreaded fourth quarter starts with Chris Johnson going for good yardage to the left side. James Harrison is easily sealed off by the pulling guard and Foote is caught up in trash inside. Taylor is forced to make the tackle. The defense is behind the chains already. Ryan Clark fills the hole on second down to set up a third down, but the Titans convert with a short pass as the defense blitzes. Washington gets underneath Taylor uncontested on the next play for an easy catch and the Titans are driving. Steve McLendon does a great job on the stretch play to the right on first down. Cortez Allen comes on the corner blitz on second and long and Hasselbeck throws it right to Lawrence Timmons for the interception.
Mike Wallace makes what is probably his best sideline catch of his career on first down as he uses his hands well. On second down Starks misses his cut block as the play is designed to go to the left and the pass to Miller falls incomplete which sets up another third and long. Roethlisberger misses Sanders on a seem route and it sets up a long field goal by Shaun Suisham as a result. Suisham buries it from 52, but Roethlisberger needs to make that throw. This was a key play in the game as it allows the Titans to hang around.
The Steelers run blitz on first down but Foote and Timmons are run backwards on the play and Johnson has another nice run as a result. Had Johnson hit the hole faster and not hesitated, it would have been a homerun. Hasselbeck throws behind Washington on the next play against a Steelers blitz and Keenan Lewis drops an easy interception on a ball that hits him right in the hands. This is another play to circle as the Steelers could have put the game away here more than likely. Kendall Wright beats Taylor on a crossing pattern beyond the second level and you can feel the Steelers defense letting this one slip away. McLendon blows up the first down run that follows. On second down Timmons and Clark blow up the run and the Titans are faced with a long third down at midfield. The next play is a disaster as the Steelers defense does not know what the play is. Hasselbeck hits Wright across the middle after Lewis falls down on the play. The defense only rushed two on the play which gave Hasselbeck tons of time. This is another case of where Foote likely should have called timeout. Hasselbeck attempts to hit Kenny Britt on the fade against the blitz on second down and Taylor has good position on him and makes a good slap at the end to prevent the catch. Taylor falls for the fake by Wright on the next play and the result is him getting flagged for the hold. Britt drops the lob in the end zone as they continue to pick on Taylor. The next play is right at Taylor again who jumps the route but misses the play on the ball. The tough night for Taylor just got even worse as the Titans tie the game.
DeMarcus Van Dyke has his second penalty of the game on the following kickoff and the Steelers start deep in a hole. Roethlisberger hits Sanders on what looks to be a read route of the safety and the offense is quickly out of the hole. A Roethlisberger scramble on a free play has the offense on the Titans end of the field. The next few plays are crucial and Miller makes the grab of the night on first down for a four yards with one hand. On second down Batch makes a bad read as he had a lane off of the right hip of Adams. This is a huge run fail and Suisham could have used that yardage. The third and 7 play saw Roethlisberger break outside to his left to avoid pressure. You wonder if he should have gave a pump fake while on the run and tried to at least get two or three yards, but instead he loops around and throws behind an open Batch, who would have had a first down. Mike Tomlin calls a timeout and Suisham misses the long field goal.
The crucial third down play sees Harrison trailing Jared Cook on a crossing route that had been cleared out underneath. It is not even close. On the play Allen is coming on a corner blitz. Foote also comes on a blitz, but his move inside to get around the block of Johnson takes him out of the passing lane and it results in an easy throw by Hasselbeck to get the Titans in position to win the game, which they do.
The failure to convert the interception of Timmons into 7 points and the drop by Lewis were big plays. The holding call on Taylor and subsequent miss on the touchdown are two more plays that got away. The offense is not without, though, as the miss by Roethlisberger on the pass to Sanders was also a big play as was the failed run read by Batch. The confusion on the big play to Wright was yet another breakdown which is starting to become a trend. Did the Titans win this game or did the Steelers lose it? I think the answer is obvious based on all of the errors made on both sides of the ball in the second half.