Wanna Get Away? Danny Smith Probably Does

By Matthew Marczi

What was the worst game that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had in recent memory on special teams in which the opposing team did not score a touchdown? Was it this one? If you said yes, I would not put up much of an argument.

Some of the mistakes were obvious—glaring, even.

Kicker Shaun Suisham, who entered the afternoon coming off a game-winner from beyond 40 and had made his first 14 field goal attempts on  the season, missed two field goals from within 40 yards.

Punter Zoltan Mesko booted a pair of punts into the end zone, sent another about 30 yards down the field and out of bounds that kept the Oakland Raiders in Steelers territory, and failed to handle a snap that in part allowed another punt to be tipped.

There were a number of other mistakes throughout the game. On Antonio Brown’s last two punt returns, he lost yardage at a point in the game when both time and field position were critical. Meanwhile, the gunners were getting down the field, but not forcing fair catches, nor tackling.

Worst of all, however, was the sheer inability to take advantage of the Raiders’ own mistakes throughout the game on special teams.

It is easy, and rightfully so, to point to the apparent fumble recovery that was eventually negated after the officials ruled that cornerback Antwon Blake just ever so slightly grazed the ball with a finger on his right hand, believing that it had already touched the runner.

It did not, and because of that gentle caress, the Steelers lost a perfect opportunity to get back into the game. Instead, the Raiders took advantage of the second chance and drove the ball for a touchdown on that drive to make it a 21-3 game.

On the Steelers’ first punt of the game, gunners Blake and Shamarko Thomas failed to bottle up Jacoby Ford, who returned the punt 20 yards across midfield. Robert Golden forced Ford to fumble the ball, but the Steelers were unable to recover it (David Paulson had the best chance) before it went out of bounds.

On the next punt, it was Paulson who allowed the penetration to partially block Mesko’s punt. To make matters worse, it was Golden who then illegally touched the punt, which gave the Raiders the ball on the Steelers’ 26-yard line.

After cutting the lead to three, Shaun Suisham’s onside try was floated right into the arms of Rashad Jennings. Just for a cherry on top, cornerback Cortez Allen drew a holding penalty on the final punt of the game after Brown had already lost four yards on the return, leaving 18 seconds on the clock. The penalty? Half the distance to the goal—at the two-yard line. Wanna get away, Danny Smith?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Not sure what else Danny Smith can do. This unit is no different than all the other units that play inconsistent. One week they look legit, the next you wonder why are they on the field. The defense and offense is exactly the same and maybe even a bit worse on offense.

    Yeah, coaches need to take responsibility but their job is to put players in the position to make plays. The players need to make the plays. That describes everything that was said above. Players did not make plays…period.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    2 things the Steelers have had trouble with over the course of several years and that is a decent ST coach and a decent OL coach. We have been lacking greatly at these 2 positional coaches. Bring back Grimm if available.

  • mem359

    Considering how bad ST looked in the preseason, I was thinking that Smith was doing a reasonable job since there wasn’t a lot of talk about the ST (up to the Oakland game).

  • Dr. Doom

    He is still mad he did not get the head job, and was he a great OL coach, or an average coach with great talent?

  • cencalsteeler

    If you think back to last years post season presser, Colbert addressed the changes that needed to be made to help this club. They did address those issues, whether it was personnel or players. Truth be told, not one offseason change has really stood out to be a positive.

  • Ed Bouchette stated in his blog a few punters are in for a tryout.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I know he left mad but if he is unemployed it is a miracle how getting an old job back will sometimes heal a few wounds. He may have been an average coach with good talent or a great coach who made average talent good. Sometimes we will never know.

  • Ia Ia

    FOR MATTHEW : I love your articles. I would love an article regarding How Many times did Ben score 30+ points in a single game in his NFL career. As pointed out by others it seems like this is today’s game line between winning and losing. THANKS AND KEEP UP THE GREAT JOB YOU ARE DOING