On Second Thought: Steelers at Seahawks Throwback Sunday?
by Ivan Cole, with interpolations by Homer J. and his famous report card
Today’s theme comes from a remark from Homer J as the game ended. He said that at the beginning of the year this would be how we would have expected to lose.
It is no way near as simple or clear cut as that, but there were enough of a resurfacing of some past concerns that it brings into question a lot of the revisionist thinking that surrounds this team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Low hanging fruit here. But I think I am on pretty solid ground in saying that whatever honeymoon was associated with Jones is over and the relationship, with the fans at least, is on the rocks. Now, granted, the wisdom of the fake field goal will be called into question, and rightfully so, though I wasn’t that opposed to the thought. If the ball had been properly thrown, Villaneuva would have likely scored, and we would have been talking about that one years from now.
Like so many decisions and play calls it’s genius if it works and utter stupidity if it doesn’t. Personally, my 20/20 hindsight thought is that given the weakness of the pass I would have taken my chances with Jordan Berry or even Chris Boswell throwing that duck. Right after the Seahawks scored I asked Homer (in jest) how many people could be fired for this one. I came up with five. Landry, of course, for being born. The Steelers brain trust; Mike Tomlin, Danny Smith and Todd Haley for good measure. Alejandro for not breaking up the pass. But I digress, I was discussing Landry.
Jones, unfortunately, wasn’t finished. I believe he ended the day completing three passes, two to Seahawks. I am not mad at Landry. My expectations were never that high. However, I think this might slow down the ‘Landry’s alright’ talk for the time being, and somebody should give some thought to getting beyond your resentments and coaching up that Vick kid.
Here’s what Homer had to say about that play:
What was that????? Landry Jones 4th down intercepted on fake field goal…almost returned for TD…returned to PIT 24. Fire Tomlin, Fire Haley, Fire Jones, Fire Villanueva for not catching the pass.
Actually it was a solid play call – and I’ve been waiting for them to us Villanueva as an eligible receiver, because he caught a ton of passes as a tight end at West Point, but why did they not call off this play when the quarter ran out?? They lost the element of surprise on a surprise play when play stopped at the end of the quarter. Seattle was able to recognize who was in there and adjust. Jeez.
Homer also commented at the end of the game:
Landry Jones is coming in. Haven’t we suffered enough?
When I saw Bryant for the first time at training camp in 2014 I saw moments of athletic brilliance in tandem with something, well, less. I saw it again today. I thought we were beyond that, but apparently not. Dropped passes and poor route running tarnished some really great stuff. The mistakes probably cost two scores, almost certainly touchdowns. On the other hand, difficult to fault him given the positives. But at least for one afternoon Bryant regressed.
Here was one of the good ones:
Double reverse to Bryant, great blocking… Bryant turns the corner as he turns on the afterburners… Ben gives up his body to throw a block to help spring Bryant.
Tomlin rolled the dice and put the team’s fate in the hands of the defense in the end. For two downs it looked like it was going to work. That combined with the 39 points put up by the Seahawks would indicate to some that all our early beliefs concerning this defense were, in fact, true. But let us not forget about half of that total were the results of turnovers by the offense and special teams. I am not at all sure that Seattle could have won without that level of generosity.
However, as Homer notes:
Wilson just completed three third down and long passes on that drive.
Third and nine – Baldwin goes for 80 yards, beating Mitchell and Blake. Ouch. Mitchell and Blake with terrible tackling. It’s been a very tough afternoon for the secondary, especially Blake.
It wasn’t all bad, though:
PAT Blocked!!! PAT Blocked!!! McLendon and/or Heyward got a hand on it, and it fluttered harmlessly just short of the goal posts!!!! As Chuck Noll famously said, “Good things happen to people who hustle.” They didn’t mail it in on the PAT, they hustled.
If I recall correctly, that’s Heyward’s second blocked kick this year.
Normally, I would say it’s just sour grapes to gripe about the refs, it is simply becoming undeniable that in all too many instances they have become too much a part of the story. The seemingly inscrutable rulings surrounding what is and is not a catch as well as a non-call on what I thought was an illegal contact on Antonio Brown by Richard Sherman (leading to an interception) and the alleged unsportsmanlike conduct on Lawrence Timmons for pushing Russell Wilson out of bounds makes it difficult for me to watch the proceedings without courting rage or disgust. I don’t come away feeling that justice has been served.
Over the course of his game notes Homer comments on several uncalled PIs, an uncalled face mask by Graham, the bogus penalty on Timmons, and a couple of blatant holding non-calls. Adrian and I were talking about this after the game and noted that there were no PI calls at all. I pointed out that there couldn’t possibly have been any PI calls on PIT, because there was never a DB within a mile of the receiver. He had to concede…
Here’s Homer’s actual comment on a couple of them, as you wouldn’t want to miss the flavor:
Brown knocked down by Richard Sherman. How could that not be illegal contact????? Intercepted and returned by Sherman.
Total nonsense call on Timmons, who was in bounds and hit Wilson, who was in bounds… You don’t even call that in flag football, for heaven’s sake. Maybe the call was because they damaged Wilson’s karma, and his karma appears to be very delicate today.
He added later:
The Steelers have had three plays screwed up by replay.
Though things on this front weren’t catastrophic, at least nowhere near as bad as Seattle losing Graham, the fact that for the third time this season Ben Roethlisberger did not finish a game he started causes one to feel fragile.
Big hole up the middle [near the end of the first half] for D-Will for the TD. They went 80 yards in 1:14…but that leaves :56 for Seattle. Yinzers are going to complain about Tomlin’s clock management. They’re gonna say that D-Will should have stopped at the one yard line, picked up some beer, and then crossed into the end zone.
The offensive numbers were astronomical. The offense stopped itself on occasion, but Seattle seemed incapable of doing so on a regular basis itself.
Markus Wheaton had a career receiving day. As Homer said:
Wheaton is having the game of his life, just up the road from Corvallis, where he played in college.
Heath Miller had a great first half. Jessie James had some moments.
DeAngelo Williams quietly had a very productive ‘clutch’ day. The offensive line kept one of the best pass rushing fronts mostly at bay.
Cam Heyward was the top headliner on the defensive side of the ball, adding a blocked extra point attempt to his all-around excellent play.
Boswell was perfect with his field goal attempts. Jacoby Jones didn’t fumble.
In theory at least this is a loss that is not supposed to be so bothersome. The smart thinking put this game in the loss column from the time the schedule was announced. Playing against the defending conference champion on the road, on the West coast no less. But it was clear to me that Pittsburgh was, in fact, the better team. A winnable game and a lost opportunity. Too bad.
Homer J.’s Report Card:
Quarterback: B+ Ben was terrific. Of the two picks, one was a pass where the receiver was knocked down. Landry Jones was disastrous.
Running Back: A DeAngelo Williams was all that, and more. Just terrific.
Wide Receivers: B+ Marcus Wheaton had the best game of his life. Bryant was Bryant, with flashes of brilliance and some big drops. AB was hounded, held, and still made some big plays.
Tight Ends: A Heath Miller was targeted and delivered until he got hurt. Jesse James filled in well. Blocking by TEs was solid.
Offensive Line: B Run blocking as pass pro were exemplary in the first half. Pass pro broke down in the second half.
Special Teams: D The Landry Jones fake field goal proved fatal. Terrible coverage on a Lockett kickoff return. They did manage to black a Seattle PAT, and get a two point conversion, which raised their grade from an F.
Defense: D+ They gave up 39 points. Some players were better than others, and some made big plays. But, in general, they were half a step too slow in the third and fourth quarters, and this team looked for all the world like what we feared at the beginning of the season they would be. The tackling in the secondary was especially bad. Rather than give grades for DL, LB, and CB, let’s say they failed as a unit.
Coaching: D The refusal to call off the fake field goal after the element of surprise was lost is still a complete head-scratcher. That play was a ten point swing and cost them the game. Also, not sure about going for the field goal to make it 32-30. Had they failed, the Seahawks would have gained possession at their own four yard line. Granted, the D wasn’t stopping anyone at the end of the game, but still…
A tough loss. I hope Ben and Heath are okay.
THE DIVISION RACE IS OVER, BUT THE SEASON STILL HAS A LONG WAY TO GO.