Steelers Week 11 Turning Point: 3rd & Goal TD To James

The Pittsburgh Steelers put on a near-dominant performance Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans and held the lead from start to finish.  There was not a point in the game where we thought they may be in trouble but the Titans kept it close for the first three quarters just the same as they only trailed 23-17 with five-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter.  The Steelers offense was playing well up to this point but the following drive would prove to be game-sealing as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would lead the unit on a 12 play, 75 yard touchdown drive to make it a two possession game.

In my opinion, this was Roethlisberger’s most impressive drive of the season as he completed 6 of 7 passes for 66 yards and closed it out with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jesse James.  The drive started out with Roethlisberger taking a 3 yard sack at the hands of Titans linebacker Erik Walden.  Two plays later the Steelers were faced with a 3rd and 10 and Roethlisberger warmed back up again.  He completed a big 3rd down pass to wide receiver Martavis Bryant for 20 yards up the left sideline to move the chains.  Three completions to running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster later and the Steelers were 33 yards closer to the end zone and on the Titans 22 yard line.  A pair of 6 yard completions to wide receiver Antonio Brown and Smith-Schuster put the Steelers on the 8 yard line and on the verge of scoring.  On the following play, Steelers fans rejoiced as Bell dove into the end zone on an apparent 8 yard touchdown run but following a review, the call was reversed and the ball was placed at the 1 yard line.  The next play would be the scoring play as the Steelers brought in the jumbo package and the Titans completely sold out on the play action and Roethlisberger found a wide open James in the end zone for the touchdown.  The Steelers would extend their lead to 30-17 as the 4th quarter began and they would not look back.

The touchdown drive seemed to take any of the remaining momentum out of the Titans as their ensuing three possessions would result in a punt and two interceptions and the Steelers would extend their lead to 40-17 before sending in the backups to close out the final possession of the game.  Roethlisberger was in complete control of the offense and looked his best so far this season as  he completed six passes to five different receivers on the drive.  This showing was an example of what Steelers fans thought this offense would and could be in 2017 and what it will need to be in order to make a run at a seventh Super Bowl ring.

  • Chris92021

    Respectfully disagree. The turning point of the game was the 3rd and 11 completion to JuJu Smith-Schuster inside the 5 yard line. If we don’t convert that, then we kick another field goal to go up 19-14 and it is still a competitive game and the narrative of bad red zone offense continues. Instead that great catch by JuJu gives us new life and we score a TD to go up 23-14. The James TD was great and I loved how we pulled it off. However, I am not sure we have the confidence and swagger for the remainder of the game if JuJu doesn’t make that 3rd and 11.

  • John Noh

    Delanie Walker dropping the TD was the turning point, IMO. 23 to 21 feels a lot different than 23 to 17. It reminded me of Super Bowl XIII when Jackie Smith dropped the TD and the game changing from there.

  • Joseph Nerges

    The turning point IMHO was allowing Ben to run the no huddle hurry up offense. The Steelers were a completely different offense in the 2nd half when Ben was calling the plays and Haley was sent packing for the most part.

  • WB Tarleton

    1) They ran the hurry up offense very little. (No huddle, and hurry up offense are NOT the same thing.)

    2) In the no huddle, Haley still calls some plays or gives him a couple to choose from.

    3) When Ben calls a play, he is calling them from Haley’s playbook and game plan.

  • falconsaftey43

    shhhh, you are ruining the narrative.

  • CP72

    Boy that sure felt like we we’re going to kick ANOTHER field goal. That was one tough catch the kid made.

  • Intense Camel

    Ben is going to get him killed if he doesn’t improve his ball placement on throws like that.

  • Chris92021

    Exactly. It was a crappy throw that JuJu came down with and maintained control after getting hit. I was holding my breath because that kid is one of the primary reasons why we are where are right now.

  • Intense Camel

    He got an even worse shot last week on a similar pass. Kinda surprised he even got up afterwards. He’s eaten about 5-6 hits like that and still shows no fear of contact. He’s definitely a tough kid. Granted he did bobble the one last week, but he should not have to fully extend to catch a pass 5-10 yards from the line of scrimmage. If ben led him that could have been a TD.

  • LAD

    I completely agree this was the turning point… It seemed the obvious choice for me.
    And then, the JuJu catch, if we only consider what the Steelers did (and not what the Titans did not do)

  • Chris92021

    If things worked out the same way, the Walker drop is even bigger if JuJu does not come down with the 3rd and 11. Why? Because we kick a field goal, go up 19-14, then the Titans take the lead for the first time in the game if Walker hangs on (probably 22-19 since the Titans would have likely gone for 2 and gotten it). I can handle being up by 2 but I would have lost it if we were down by 3 in the 3rd quarter. Thank goodness it never happened.

  • capehouse

    It was a great call by Haley. Looks like a run would’ve been stuffed, and Ben and Jesse James sold the playaction really well. Clutch play after taking away Bell’s TD.

  • pittfan

    I️ ought so too

  • WB Tarleton

    Exactly. Ben good, Haley bad must not be contradicted.

  • ThatGuy

    Excellent play call.

  • Respectfully disagree. My ‘turning point’ was Cam’s 15 yard sack of Marriota on 3rd and 4 on our 11 yard line. If they convert and score, it’s 23-21 at that point. Instead of the Titans grabbing momentum, Cam’s sack made them settle for 3. When we then drove down and scored 7, the Titans’ sails seemed to deflate.

  • AndyR34

    Oh…facts do so often get in the way of those narratives.

  • Dshoff

    In this case, Jesse James so so blocking was the perfect disguise for the TD. 🙂

  • Bill

    Don’t agree with the Smith parallel.That drop has always been over hyped mostly by The Cowboys. Truth is that the Steelers dominated the second half. Only reason game ended with a close score was that Tony Dunge muffed the onside kick.

  • Bill

    That’s it, spear James at every opportunity even when he scores a touchdown.

  • Rob S.

    I just hope Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin see how much easier it is to score touchdowns when you at least show the threat of run instead of lining up in a shotgun empty set from inside the 5.

  • Todd Borax

    It’s so sophisticated to say “narrative”!

  • John Phillips

    Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner.

  • John Noh

    I think there’s a parallel. Smith’s TD would have tied up the game; instead the Steelers still led. Steelers dominated the fourth quarter like they did against the Titans. The only thing that was really different was that the Titans didn’t mount any kind of a comeback.

    BTW, my heart was in my throat until Bleier grabbed that second onside kick. That was too close for comfort.