Steelers at Seahawks: Giving It Away

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

I realize we’re coming into the season traditionally considered the one for gift-giving, and maybe that’s what was going on today. Whether the Steelers meant to present the Hawks with a win or not, they did, thanks to the generosity of Ben and Landry Jones, both of whom threw two picks. (Roethlisberger would have had a third had the 2-point rules not negated Sherman’s pick in the end zone.)

The more egregious offender, despite this, was definitely Jones, who threw twice as many picks as completed passes. I just had to look, to torment myself, I suppose. To my astonishment his passer rating for the game is 22.9. Seems overly generous, but whatever.

The frustrating thing about this loss is, like pretty much all of the Steelers’ other losses, it looked for a considerable portion of the game as if they had a very good chance to win it.

The first half was the offense we expected to see. The Seahawks, as expected, took away Antonio Brown, and so Ben just threw it to whoever else was handy—Roosevelt Nix, Will Johnson, and so on. I think the Gator Ade guy even had a completion at one point. Oh wait, I think that was supposed to be a secret.

But there were a lot of passes which should have been complete which weren’t. The Seattle secondary is very aggressive, and they made a lot of good plays on the ball.

I noted the refs were happy to let them be aggressive, too. Seattle had a lot of penalties for one thing and another, but not a single pass interference call, despite draping themselves on the receivers at various points and a seriously egregious incident where Antonio Brown was shoved to the ground before he touched the ball.

But the Steelers receivers didn’t help out, either. AB caught the few balls that were enough in his vicinity to do so, although he had a pass or two batted away as well. Bryant, on the other hand, seemed to be having trouble focusing. I wonder whether the crowd noise is more than he could handle.

He was targeted 11 times, as far as I could work out from my notes, and had five catches. The other six were a couple of defended passes, a couple of drops, one ruled a completion which upon challenge was determined to not be a catch because it was bobbled as he went out of bounds, and at least one that looked like it should have been a PI call.

I looked back at the other really noisy game the Steelers played, @Kansas City. I don’t know if this means much, since I would have to go back and watch the game to determine the circumstances, but Bryant was targeted seven times (I’m not counting the lateral from Bell.) Of those seven targets, three were completed for 19 yards, a touchdown, and seven yards. The other four were three incompletions and an interception allowed.

Since it was Landry Jones throwing to him, it’s hard to say whether most of these were on him or not. I suppose everyone just drops a pass from time to time. But it does make me wonder if Bryant has a little difficulty focusing when there is a lot of hostile crowd noise. And despite the occasional cries of “HEEATTH” you could faintly hear, it was pretty much a Seattle crowd.

I’ve been under the weather for a week and a half now, so I’ll let Ivan and/or Homer get a bit more in depth. I’m just going to finish up here with some observations and my Participation Trophies Kind and Caring game grades.

The Seahawks made some pretty impressive adjustments at half-time. Prior to the third quarter Roethlisberger had not been sacked, and although the secondary was staying on top of things the Steelers were still able to move the ball very well.

After the half they got two sacks, several interceptions, and the Steelers only managed 12 more points. The Seattle offense also made some adjustments and as a result accumulated an additional 25 points in the second half, almost twice as many as they got in the first.

Admittedly the excellent field position the Steelers kept gifting them with made it easier, but there’s no denying Wilson put on an impressive show. And although he lost Jimmy Graham he seemed to be perfectly happy to throw the ball to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse instead.

The Steelers defense did a pretty admirable job, I thought, in the first half, keeping contain on Wilson and mostly limiting Rawls. Although the Seahawks finished with 100 yards rushing (81 of those from Rawls,) this is small potatoes compared to the 209 yards Rawls gained on his own the week before.

But as the second half wore on the defense was flagging. They began the half with two three-and-outs, but then there were the two interceptions within five minutes. It’s just not fair to the defense. James Harrison might have a few words to say…


  • Marcus Wheaton had what I’m guessing is a career game. 9 receptions, 201 yards, a touchdown. And the touchdown was a 69 yard catch and run. Wheaton also made a great block on the Bryant TD run.
  • Jesse James came in for Heath Miller and had a couple of good blocks and a 2-point conversion catch.
  • Good challenge by Tomlin on the disputed catch.
  • Steve McLendon tipped a pass, and Cameron Heyward blocked an extra point attempt.
  • The defense denied the Seahawks on two two-point conversion attempts


  • Really, Ben? Three picks? If it’s not there don’t take it.
  • Really, Coach T? What the heck was that punt formation thingy with Landry Jones in? The defense had the entire timeout period to work out that the guy taking the snap wasn’t Ben and wasn’t the punter. Either kick the field goal or go for it, but don’t mess about.
  • Really, Jacoby? Fortunately you made up for it later but you watched two punts bounce behind you to inside the 10. How was that a good idea?
  • After no penalties in the first half they ended up with six for 65 yards. Probably didn’t help, although I think the personal foul on Timmons for helping Russell Wilson get out of bounds was pretty ticky-tacky.
  • They probably should have taken a closer look at Ben when he got hit in the head. Being Ben, he got right up, but he seemed rather wooly-headed, particularly as they got near the goal line. I will not be in the least surprised to hear he has a concussion this coming week.


  • It takes a seriously large man to make Ben look small. Alejandro Villanueva did just that when he picked Ben up after DeAngelo Williams’ touchdown.
  • Speaking of DeWill, he didn’t manage much in the run game (although they only handed him the ball eight times, and he got 29 yards out of it) but he’s sure turning into a handy check-down for Ben. He had 88 receiving yards, more than anyone but Wheaton.

Momma’s Kind and Caring Report Card:

Effort: The defense definitely wins this one. They were swarming to the ball, they were getting after Wilson (and getting to him on occasion) and generally were giving it their all. Unfortunately they also gave Russell Wilson some nice big windows into which to throw touchdown passes. But sometimes your best effort isn’t enough, especially when your offense is determined to make it as hard as possible for you.

Citizenship: Everybody gets one for the penalty-free first half. In fact, I don’t believe the offense took a single penalty, so that’s something.

And of course we must commend the offense for their generous spirit of sharing and caring. And I hope to heaven the coaches beat that out of them before next week.

Work Ethic:  All the “little guys” who were ready to make a contribution when their number was called. Nine different receivers had catches, including Matt Spaeth, Will Johnson, Roosevelt Nix, and Jesse James.

Honorable Mention goes to Ross Cockrell and the DBs who just wouldn’t let go of the ball, wrestled it from the arms of Jermaine Kearse, and recovered it. Unfortunately it touched out of bounds. If it hadn’t that would have been huge. As it was the Seahawks were forced to punt after one more play. The completion would have been a first down.

And for that matter, “Ross Cockrell and the DBs” would be a good name for a band. Although “DBs” might be wrongly interpreted…




  • You know…the INTs didn’t bother me. This felt like a heavyweight fight between the Seattle D and the Steelers O. Both are good units. One sign of that is that neither could dominate the other without taking a few lumps right back. Yeah, Big Ben had INTs…but he also had 400+, good drives, and 30 points.
    The disappointment to me was about a poor defense facing a poor offense…and looking much worse for it. Baldwin for 80 yards should never happen.


  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    Good coverage and analysis. I think you touched on all the main points but one. One of Ben’s pick came when it looked like he was trying to do his patented pump fake but pumped too hard. I don’t know if that was an exceptionally hard pump fake on his part or if he is (pardon the pun) losing his grip. Hopefully this is nothing because I think Ben is playing tremendous football but old man time doesn’t wait for anyone. I noticed he under threw Bryant a few tines as well but that may well have been due to other factors. I deleted the game from my pvr, for reasons, so I can’t go back and review the plays.

    Of the turnovers, I think that Richard Sherman interception bothered me the most. Not only was the pass interference ignored on the initial play but it was also missed in the review (all turn overs are still reviewed are the not?). It seemed like the drapery, formerly known as the Seahawks DBs, was allowed to do whatever they wanted. I haven’t seen anything this bad since Revis and Cromartie were allowed to spend a game waterskiing behind the Steelers WR are few years back. I hate seeing a game between two good teams ruined by shoddy officiating.

    I don’t disagree with Tomlin’s decision to good for it with the fake field goal but LJ needs to know when to throw it away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said. A very good point about the pump fake that wasn’t… it definitely looked like that was a possibility. Furthermore it was a 2nd and 3, so there was no reason he couldn’t have thrown the ball away if there was nothing there.

      I still can’t figure out how the officials couldn’t care less that Sherman shoved AB to the ground. Adrian’s theory is that they let him do these things because he’s Richard Sherman. If he was some no-name guy playing for, say, New Orleans, they would have been all over it.

      And as for the fake field goal, I would have been all in favor, except that you can’t surprise a defense who has had the entire time-out period to figure out that something is up. I wish he would have pulled the formation and either gone for it or kicked the 45 yrd FG. Boswell has been money, there’s no reason to think he would miss. The score was still 3-0. Seems to me it’s way better, if you’re going to run a stunt like that, to have either the holder or the punter throw the pass. I think if he ever wants to try it again they should train Boswell to pass… But, as Ivan points out, if it had succeeded we would be talking about it for years. I just want to know why the Army Ranger didn’t at least do a little damage to the guy that intercepted it. That was his ball, after all…


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