Steelers Versus Patriots – Second Half Notes And Observations

By Matthew Marczi

  • For as awful a first half as he had, Troy Polamalu made a splendid effort to separate Stevan Ridley from the ball to first off the second half.
  • When you run wide receiver screens, it opens up the defense for screen fakes. The Steelers ran that after the fumble and it got Le’Veon Bell nine yards on first down on a dump off pass.
  • Once again, Ben Roethlisberger is responsible for his own sacks. Bell chips the end and turns to take the pass, but it never comes. He steps up into the pocket, unbeknownst to Marcus Gilbert but very much so to the attention of Chandler Jones.
  • The adjustment by Jerricho Cotchery on the first touchdown pass was outstanding. It is no wonder Roethlisberger kept going back to the savvy veteran receiver.
  • On the ensuing possession, LaMarr Woodley made the tackle on a running play on first down, affected the second down pass by hitting Tom Brady’s arm, and was at the quarterback’s feet on third down to help influence an incompletion. Brady doesn’t like rushers at his feet.
  • Antonio Brown’s strong punt return came in spite of Isaiah Green. From what I’ve observed, he did not prove to be much of an asset on special teams, so I’m not surprised to see him go again.
  • Roethlisberger’s second touchdown pass to Cotchery was pinpoint, right over the defensive back’s shoulder.
  • Surprisingly, continuing to allow Rob Gronkowski free releases still did not work any better in the second half.
  • The beginning of the third quarter could hardly have gone any better for the Steelers, right up to the point that they tied the game, but it quickly got ugly almost immediately after the tie.
  • For the only time in the game, Woodley was out, Jason Worilds moved over, and Jarvis Jones was in. The Patriots quickly drove down the field until Woodley came back in when they reached the Steelers’ 12. Worilds and Cameron Heyward had perfect timing on third down on the sack to force a field goal.
  • But that was the last time the Steelers would be able to stop the Patriots.
  • The ensuing kick return by Felix Jones was pretty awful.
  • The drive was going well in spite of that, however, until somebody forgot what to do on a busted play that forced Roethlisberger to scramble for no gain. The second down pass was one Emmanuel Sanders should have had. The defensive back did an excellent job to even get a finger on it, but the redirection was not so much that it was uncatchable.
  • Brady was targeting William Gay on the ensuing drive and found quite a bit of success, including the touchdown to Aaron Dobson. He gave up three receptions on the drive, including a third and six conversion, though that one was in zone.
  • Mat McBriar and Antwon Blake deserve credit for flipping the field after being caught back in their own end, but of course it didn’t end up mattering.
  • After Vince Williams was knocked out of the game, Stevenson Sylvester struggled against the run.
  • That included the Stevan Ridley touchdown run that ended the drive. But it was Lawrence Timmons bouncing off the back for a missed tackle.
  • Although he was unable to hang on to a second down pass, Cotchery came up big on the ensuing drive, including converting the subsequent third and 10 play.
  • Bell did not step up, dropping his second pass of the night.
  • After Gilbert got injured, Mike Adams really stepped in at right tackle and did a good job, at least as far as the results go. He still has some clear technical issues to work on, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t start at right tackle if he had to.
  • The Steelers clearly got tired of being gashed with the run, so much so that both Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark completely sold out on the run, which allowed Dobson to get behind both of them for the 81-yard score.
  • One would think the thought of putting in Bruce Gradkowski should have crossed Mike Tomlin’s mind at this point.
  • I think once the play has been going on for seven seconds, the sack probably falls on the quarterback, right?
  • Not that Roethlisberger had anybody to throw to on that play, but a throwaway would have been an awful lot better than an eight-yard loss.
  • Of course, on the next play, he avoided a sack, dumped a ball off to his back, and converted a second and 16.
  • I have no problem with Brown being benched after running the wrong route and being responsible for the interception. Some would ask why bench Brown and not Polamalu. To me, however, the answer to that question is obvious.
  • LeGarrette Blount had a big lane to run on the first play after the interception thanks to Sylvester and Clark
  • Steve McLendon made the tackle on the next play—the only problem is that he tackled Ziggy Hood instead of Blount. Hood had a hold of the back before McLendon accidentally pulled him off for the touchdown.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Jason

    See guys articles like this is what keeps the Woodley “haters/lovers” banter going. Mathew I do enjoy reading most of your post as they typically are well researched and written but for you to insinuate that the Patriots drive to put them up 27-24 was helped because Woodley was pulled is either just a poke at us who think he’s a bit overpaid or just a plain bad observation. Woodley was on the field for all 55 pts allowed so I don’t think he heroically stopped that drive.

  • cencalsteeler

    Felix Jones is not a kick returner. No real threat. Plus, he predetermines where he goes, to his left sideline. Another example of our team issues. A guy who gets released by the Cowboys, bounces to the Eagles. The Eagles just flat out release him (not even good enough to be the backup to the back up). Yet, we sign him and not only is he our co-starting rb (depends on which week it is), but he is also our starting kick returner.

  • steeltown

    I think he’s done an admirable job at both duties (#2 RB and KR) he has over 25yd average on kick returns with a long of 42yds and as a RB he always seems to find holes and/or fall forward. Not bad when you consider we got him for pennies on the dollar. I think the one place he is lacking some is pass protection.

    Would I rather have a more explosive returner, the answer is always yes

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    He has done ok and not really another sure handed option you can put back there.

  • cencalsteeler

    Your comment just summarized the 2013 Steelers team.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    unfortunately yes. But surprisingly not a lot of fumbling by the backs. Ben & the Wr’s have that covered.

  • cencalsteeler

    The one run glamorizes his average. Yes, we got a bargain basement deal, but does that field Superbowl caliber teams. We are settling for mediocrity which is a reflection of the team we are currently witnessing.

  • cencalsteeler

    Well, if your looking for positives, I have to agree with you, they do hold onto the ball. Problem is, it does us no good when the results are short yardage gains resulting in a punt.

  • steeltown

    Would I like to have a more explosive returner, most definitely, but that doesn’t mean that Felix hasn’t been an asset. He’s a cheap experienced option. I hope we retain his services in the offseason to be our #2 or #3 RB (and emergency KR)

  • cencalsteeler

    O.K. Now I agree with you. His abilities are serviceable as a back up rb or emergency KR. Problem is, he is not a back up on this roster, he’s a co-starter or a feature kick returner.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    He is no longer a co starter now listed #2 I would prefer he be #3 but Dwyer is a liability on screens and pass catching

  • cencalsteeler

    Lol, you are driving my point home for me. We never know from week to week who is #1, #2 or #3 for that matter. One week it’s Paulson, then it’s DJ, then it’s Redman, then it’s Dwyer, then it’s Beachum, then it’s Adams. One week it’s Jones returning kicks, then Sanders gets thrown back there, then Jones again. And why is Dwyer back there? Shouldn’t he be an up back for blocking? You said he can’t catch and I agree with you. What type of threat is Dwyer back there? Like he’s going to bust one for 90 yards?

  • dgh57

    Did we not acquire F. Jones in a trade for LB A Robinson? Sanders should at least get more looks as a KR with his speed. He’s more likely to take one the distance than F. Jones.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    If he did I would die of laughter

  • k33ger

    Eh, I think we need to bench Sanders as soon as Wheaton is back. I don’t know if Wheaton will be any better, but Sanders has trouble getting open and doesn’t play the ball aggressively enough. Every catch i’ve seen him make, with the exception of that one bomb, it’s been when Ben uses 4-5 seconds of time to make the throw. Just shows that he can’t get open faster.

    I’d say use Moye more, but he doesn’t look like he has the frame to get off jams easily, but he does have a nice size and upside.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    he stopped that play

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Sanders is on pace for 70 receptions 1,000 yards among lowest in drop % yeah go sit down you suck.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t write with an agenda in mind. I write about what I see. I didn’t say that Woodley single-handedly held them to a field goal, and they went on to score four touchdowns after that anyway.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I would put Sanders back there, even though I’m not wholly dissatisfied with Jones’ performance as a returner. He’s actually been more than serviceable, outside of the aforementioned return that I mentioned above.

  • Jason

    Fair enough

  • Matthew Marczi

    Agreed. Sanders got at least one return in the game, but I would like to see him take over the job. If Brown can field punts, Sanders can return kicks. Or as a consolation prize, I would like to see what Wheaton can offer as a returner.

  • Jason

    What play? Worilds and Heyward got the sack to end the drive not Woodley

  • cencalsteeler

    Now were talking!!! Let’s put Sanders and Wheaton back there and move Dwyer up to the up back position.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Its clear why Stevenson was cut. He’ll be cut again. Outside of Heyward, the rest of the DL is trash. Appreciate McLendon’s effort but he is too small for that position.

    Until we get a real left tackle, it will be sputterville on offense. Until we get a real nose, it will be gashville on defense. That’s where all the problem starts on both side of the ball.

    Those are the two crucial positions and it appears that between the coaching staff and the GM they either didn’t get it done or felt they could get by with what they have. Can’t take this team seriously until those two are addressed with studs.

  • steeltown

    Total Agreement

    Been saying since preseason that we should have Sanders atleast split time at KR, at the very least

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. move McLendon over to DE where he has past experience playing, bring in a true NT for when we are in base defense..and YES we are in need of a LT

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Brady threw an incomplete pass due to his pressure.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    As long as he continues the way he is playing, and doesn’t start tapping his helmet all the time. After this game I don’t see an issue with it.