Homer’s Report Card for the Steelers Divisional Round Playoff Game

Ben_Roethlisberger_2015by Homer J.

It is with a heavy heart that I give you the following. I will have more to say tomorrow, but for now I’m going to post this and go watch Downton Abbey. As usual I will give you a smattering of Homer’s game notes and his report card.

And I want to second Homer’s comment—I am so proud of this team. Has any team ever gone into a playoff game missing both their starting (or even backup starting) running back and their best wide receiver, with their quarterback hurt, and made a game of it? The Steelers did. This was a game they very plausibly could have won, against the top defense in the league. It’s hard to accept that they lost, but also difficult to do anything but admire them for the way they did it.

Madjack58 put it best….the only thing fully functioning on this team is heart and guts.

The question in our hearts is whether it’s time for the clock to strike midnight, or whether heart and guts and magic dust will keep it all going.

Ben hit SAMMIE COATES, who gets 35 yards through great YAC. If the Steelers are going to be successful, the young guys are going to have to step up like that.

Fitz MOOOOVES the pile for five out to the PIT 8 yard line. 

Heavy side wind on long snap….almost gets away from Berry…shanks kick to 30.

Note: This became somewhat of a narrative in this game—the young punter got a bit freaked out by the wind…And part of the corollary  to this is the amazing job the Steelers D did when the Broncos were presented with fabulous field position time and again. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow. 

43 yd FG …BOZ IS PERECT….aimed it five yards to the right…goes right through.

And finallyBerry with excellent punt…50 yards to 5 yard line.

Gotta admit: I’m simply stunned that we’re up at halftime. Steelers are responding to the pressure better than Denver. And no matter what happens from here on, I’ve never been prouder of any Steeler team since that fine day when Pete Rozelle handed the Chief our first Lombardi Trophy.

Anybody think Tomlin can’t coach?  

Key to second half is the young guys stepping up and no turnovers.

Homer was, of course, prescient. Not that it took much to figure out. A lot of people were saying that the key to the game was the turnover margin. As we all know, there was in fact a Steelers turnover, and the exhausted defense finally gave up a touchdown. A turnover on downs gave the Broncos another field goal, and an unsurmountable lead.

Teams stay on field, and congratulate one another. What a huge difference from last week. 

Clean game. Great sportsmanship. 

I still say I have never been more proud of the Steelers than what they did with all the adversity they faced.

REPORT CARD:

OFFENSIVE LINE: C+ OR B-.  Gave up three sacks, but two were coverage. Decent run blocking.

QUARTERBACK: A. Clearly outplayed Manning in 35 mile per hour crosswinds that negated sideline passes. Threw for 339 yards against Denver’s top-rated defense, without any interceptions, without AB, in horrendous conditions.

RUNNING BACK: B-.  Toussaint ran well, blocked well, but the fumble ended up costing the game.

RECEIVERS: B+.  Bryant and Coates were electric. DHB was solid. Wheaton was fine in receiving.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  SPLIT GRADE: BOSWELL A. Rest of special teams: F. Punt coverage awful. Punting awful. Punt returns worse than awful. Special teams, in the long run, cost them the game.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A. Stopped the run. Put good pressure on Manning. Plenty of hurries.

LINEBACKERS: B+. Harrison was a beast, and so was Shazier. Gave up only one big run.

DEFENSIVE BACKS:  B. Gave up only 200 yards to Manning. Didn’t do anything wrong.

COACHING:  A. They didn’t have any dumb plays or penalties, and overcame a crushing amount of adversity. How Tomlin held this team together without Pouncey, without Bell, without Bryant, without Beachum, without DeAngelo Williams was absolutely amazing. 

They ran out of gas in the fourth quarter in the high altitude of Denver, and have nothing to be ashamed of. The only thing fully functioning on the team was heart and guts, and they were still ahead in a game where no one gave them a chance with 3:01 to play. 

This season will pay dividends. The young lions have grown up. This team is Ben’s team and Tomlin’s team and Peezy’s team and Munch’s team and Heyward’s team…..they are incredibly tight…..

8 comments

  • The growth on the squad was amazing, second only to the perseverance Homer described. The LBs, a liability last year were the strength of the defense along with Cam and Tuitt. Even the DBs got better. Aa few moves should solidify the secondary. The future is bright with an offense which should be the NFL’s best if we can stay reasonably healthy.

    No matter what happened, and plenty did, this team never blinked. Tomlin coached his butt off. The coaching staff as a whole did a ridiculous job keeping it all together. If one can be satisfied with a season which does not yield a Lombardi, and I believe one can (I for one) I am very satisfied with the season. It was fun. We were in almost every game. We NEVER gave up, even when a sane man would at least be tempted.

    Lil Darlin’ remarked that, if we had to lose, better we lose this week. My mind automatically went to default mode — disagree. But then I thought about it. One game away from the Super Bowl, visions of no. 7, lust for the blood of Brady etc. and then to lose? To the Pats? Knowing that only if we were at full strength, we could have . . . .

    LD is right this time. Losing next week, while one step closer would be too much to bear.

    No, this is where the road ends this year. It was a great ride; almost every game, a nail biter. Here’s to all the players who stepped up which is pretty much everybody on the team with very few exceptions. The most notable exceptions are already gone. There’s plenty of time, way too much time, to discuss who should go.

    I enjoyed this site and as we know, following the Steelers is an daily thing, in season and out. I’m heading south soon, so stay tuned for more adventures, probably only tenuously related to football. But who knows. I never watched the Super Bowl in Florida before.

    I can’t wait for camp to begin. I can see us climbing the stairway to Seven in 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know in my heart that your wife is right. (Actually, that’s usually my default position anyhow : ) But you’re right. I would rather lose with dignity in Denver than be cheated out of a win in Foxboro. Well said, Rox…

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  • Gang, the only thing that ends here is the 2015 season.

    What began here may be Dynasty II – the Brotherhood. They truly became a band of brothers, and – under pressure – the young guys really stepped up. The torch has been passed to a new generation of Steelers, and they have endured the crucible.

    This team is on the edge of greatness.

    None of us can wait for the draft, and for training camp to begin.

    Liked by 4 people

  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    Good article and good comments. I have never been as excited about the prospects of Steelers team as I am about the prospects of this team for 2016. The team acquitted itself well yesterday in spite of enormous difficulties.

    Other than possibly a CB or Safety and some d-line depth, all this team needs is some depth and perhaps a developmental QB to play lady in waiting. If a quality prospect is available when the Steelers draft I would seriously consider a QB in the first round so we have someone to step in when Ben gets injured again (because I am convinced it will happen).

    Like

    • While drafting a QB high is an interesting thought, apparently the quarterback pool in this year’s draft isn’t impressive. Naturally, it is the luck of the Browns that the year they have a top pick there isn’t a great QB to take. Who knows, though, their luck may be changing. Let’s hope not : )

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      • I don’t think the QB crop will ever be impressive again. If you watch enough CFB, you’ll see how few QBs are allowed to think for themselves.
        The Big Bens of the world are out there, but you won’t find them at the traditional powers. And you won’t find them in a spread offense. But good 3-4 year starters who still get under center and can still change a play at the line, that’s where you look for the NFL QBs.

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  • I truly believe we are a decent secondary, not great secondary, but a decent secondary away from something special and sustainable. Hats off to the coaching staff and players, especially those 2nd and 3rd stringers. The obstacles faced they faced this year typically cripple most teams, but our boys persevered and made it real interesting til’ the end.

    Like

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