Pittsburgh Steelers Versus Green Bay Packers – First Half Recap

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers were afforded some early Christmas cheer pre-game, as the two outcomes that needed to take place in order for the Steelers to still be alive for the playoffs when they take the field came out. The Miami Dolphins losing and New York Jets winning keep them alive for a bit longer, though a win by the Baltimore Ravens, who play at the same time as Pittsburgh, could still eliminate them this week.

The Green Bay Packers won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff, which was returned past the 30-yard line. The defense regained Steve McLendon and Brett Keisel, but lost LaMarr Woodley and Jarvis Jones. Chris Carter started in place of Jones on the right side.

Eddie Lacy gained eight yards on first and second down, but a blitz by Lawrence Timmons resulted in a sack for a loss of seven yards to force a punt.

Le’Veon Bell ran the first play from scrimmage for Pittsburgh, who took it to the left edge for 11 yards. On second down, Ben Roethlisberger’s short pass to Heath Miller  gained six yards. Bell found the left edge again on second down and gained four yards for the first down. It’s an encouraging early sign that Bell has been able to win the edge.

After a false start on Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers went five-wide and ran a screen to Antonio Brown, which gained six yards. On second and nine, Roethlisberger tried to force a pass to Brown about 20 yards down the field, but it was deflected. After a delay of game, a screen to Emmanuel Sanders came up well short of the first down, forcing a punt, which was fair caught at the 13.

Matt Flynn’s pass to James Jones on first down picked up seven yards. On second and short, he found Jarrett Boykin wide open for the first down. Flynn attempted to toss a screen to Boykin on the next play, but he dropped the pass. A screen to running back James Starks, however, gained 23 yards across midfield.

Ike Taylor nearly had an interception, but Jones wrestled the ball away for an eight-yard gain. After a first-down run, Flynn looked for Boykin in the end zone, but Cortez Allen deflected the pass. Lacy found a seem on second down for 14 yards into the red zone.

A few runs later, the Packers got first and goal at the five-yard line. On the first play, Flynn found Boykin with the leap over Allen for the touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.

After picking up two yards on first down, Bell found a hole right up the middle behind a block by Cody Wallace for 22 yards. On the next play, Roethlisberger found Brown down the field down to the 13. Bell took a wide pitch three yards to the 10 a play later, and nearly gained the first down on second down. On third and one, Bell fought for first and goal. Roethlisberger eventually found Sanders for the touchdown on first and goal to tie the game.

The Packers fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but recovered. Flynn found Boykin for a big gain on first down after a catch and run, and a roughing the passer on Cameron Heyward quickly put the Packers on the 37 of the Steelers.

Vince Williams dragged Lacy down after a gain of one after the big play and penalty. Flynn scrambled for just a yard after the pocket collapsed to set up third and eight. Jordy Nelson got just enough for the first down, but a facemask penalty on guard Josh Sitton made it third and 23 instead. After the pocket collapsed again, Flynn tried to scramble, but Jason Worilds was there to bring him down for a loss.

Brown’s long punt return set Roethlisberger and the offense up with good field position across midfield. Bell forced his way for about three yards on first down, and gained five on second down. On third and two, however, he was stopped for no gain, spoiling the good field position, but it did flip the field.

After a five-yard run and a four-yard pass, the Packers had third and one deep in their own territory. Flynn found Jones for 13 yards down the field, however, for the first down. A holding penalty made it first and 20 though, and Lacy gained only one on first down. On second and 19, Jones couldn’t hold on to the pass. Neither could the running back on third down, resulting in another punt.

Bell couldn’t hold on to a short screen pass on first down after the punt in wet conditions. On second and 10, Roethlisberger hurled it out to Brown for 18 yards. He looked for  Brown deep two plays later, but the receiver couldn’t get under it. On third and nine, Clay Matthews beat Kelvin Beachum for the sack. The punt pinned the Packers inside the 20, but a hold on Greg Warren forced a re-kick, which was returned to the 29.

Jones had a catch and run of 29 yards on second down after fooling Allen, as the Packers crossed midfield again. Lacy worked his way for 11 yards on the next play. Following another first down, Lacy got free again for 11 yards and into the red zone. The rookie cut back on the next play for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 14-7 lead.

Sanders helped begin the Steelers’ response by returning the kickoff past midfield, at the 45. Felix Jones took a draw for seven yards on first down with the half running out. Roethlisberger found Miller for the first down. Roethlisberger was nearly sacked on the next play, but got the ball out of his hand at the last moment. Jerricho Cotchery gained nine to make it third and one. The Steelers ultimately settled for a field goal on third down with time running out yet with a timeout in hand to close within 14-10 at halftime.

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

    Took a timeout to the half…brilliant, just brilliant…

  • ND_Steel

    Wasted all that field position too…

  • Rick M

    I gather Cortez Allen doesn’t feel he’s anywhere near good enough to play press coverage as a cornerback. He lines up 8 to 10 yards off the receiver on every play. And he is why we made no attempt whatsoever to try and keep Keenan Lewis? You have to be kidding.

  • ND_Steel

    Given life upon life upon life, still look somewhat uninspired as usual this year, until its too late..

  • Rick M

    Did you expect anything different? Both Tomlin and Ben are pathetic at clock management. If we haven’t learned that by now we never will.

  • nicolaisim

    Chris Carter was awful.. horrible to watch!
    Worilds and Sanders wants that big contract and we need those types of plays right now. Awesome to watch!

  • ND_Steel

    He’s horrible…on the one play, he was so far off, he couldn’t even come up and make the tackle. He playing against Boykin…a what #4 WR?

  • ND_Steel

    For some dumb reason…sadly yes…Ben is what, in his 10th year, Tomilin his 7th? Pathetic is right.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Brilliant fake. Way to go all out to end the season. Love the call there.

  • ND_Steel

    Thought he was throwing for Golden and overthrew him, then Paulsen came flying into the screen, nice!

  • Ike Evans

    To my knowledge….we play zone….not press

  • Elijah Stevenson

    I’m starting to think letting Keisal back was a mistake because he can’t provide that quick pass rush and he looks to slow.

  • Elijah Stevenson

    Le’veon Bell fumbled the ball at the one yard line. U r kissing me

  • WilliamSekinger

    OMG…these refs are stoned.

  • Elijah Stevenson

    Then they say tomlin can’t challenge the play because it was already reviewed, they cheating man

  • WilliamSekinger

    That was the single most horrible call of the entire NFL season.

  • Elijah Stevenson

    More stupid than the Mike tomlin call ?

  • Elijah Stevenson

    The score should really b 31-14 but the offense keeps messing it up for us by not finishing it. People keep saying that we need to rebuild on our defense but there the ones who keeps us in games and the offense never respects them.

  • DrakePirate

    he is an idiot … can we pleeeeeez hire a guy to manage time and situational analysis … he’s the worst ever … the end of the game decision is the worst i’ve seen in years … two kneel downs and a chip FG u win the game … and he makes us go thru that sh*t ….. shame on him !!!

  • DrakePirate

    Cortez is 10x better than Keenan Lewis …. but I agree with u in regards to the cushion he gives .. i don’t know what gives with that .. is that on him or the coaches ??

  • Brandon James

    You clearly don’t grasp the defensive scheme of the steelers.

  • Brandon James

    Every Corner on the steelers does it, Ike Taylor gives more room than Allen. We are a stop the run first team, that plays a Zone Scheme…you don’t press.

  • DrakePirate

    Thats not really true .. we press a moderate amount, it just depends on the situation … I’m going to go with the call being made by the DC .. but it does seem like Tez takes a little extra liberty with his cushion … i understood it at the beginning of the season when he was just returning from injury … but not now … he has more than enough speed and skills to tighten up that cushion !