Breaking Records and Quarterbacks: Dolphins @ Steelers

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via Steelers.com

What a game it was! There were the amazing highs of two touchdown passes to AB in the first quarter—which gave Antonio Brown the most yards in a quarter for any receiver since 1969, for any team. It also absolutely obliterated his 59 yards from scrimmage for the entire game against Miami in Week 6.

There were the lows (or sort of lows, as the game felt so much in hand by the time they happened) of Ben’s two interceptions. Considering that his first 10 throws were completions and that he had broken an NFL record with two 50+ yard TD passes in the first quarter, the interceptions were a rude shock. As for the second one, he never should have thrown the ball in the first place. Just take the sack and move on. But Ben will never pull a Peyton Manning-style fetal position sack concession. Maybe he should try it.

Mind you, he probably shouldn’t have still been in the game at that point, given that the chances of Miami coming back to win it were so infinitesimal that you can confidently say they were zero. And had it been Landry Jones out there, we wouldn’t now be wondering whether a) Ben can actually play next week, whatever he says now, and b) just how much chance he will have against the fierce KC defense if he does.

But we also got to enjoy the amazing drive in which EVERY SINGLE PLAY was a Le’Veon Bell run, and the Miami defense couldn’t stop him. It’s a credit to the Miami front seven that they didn’t just turn in their jock straps and go home at that point. And oh, by the way, Bell’s 167 rushing yards are a Steelers post-season record, beating out Franco Harris. Not too shabby…

We also got to enjoy seeing Jay Ajayi, who absolutely humiliated the Steelers’ D back in Week 6, be held to 33 yards on 16 carries and no touchdowns. Compare that to his season averages:

  • 84.8 yards per game ( 105 yards per game if you start with the Week 6 game against the Steelers which was his official notice to the league)
  • 4.9 yards per attempt
  • 8 touchdowns

In fact, since Week 6 he was only twice held to under 50 yards (and just barely). Until yesterday…

And perhaps most amazing of all, we got to watch James Harrison appear to turn the clock back a decade or so. He had 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble recovered by the Steelers, and will probably be getting an envelope inviting him to another “random” drug test this coming week. The only UDFA to ever be awarded the Defensive Player of the Year (2008), the oldest non-kicker or QB in the league, the Steelers all-time sack leader, he is becoming the stuff of legends.

I suppose you could call the missed PAT by Chris Boswell a low, but considering the score was 20-3 at that point, it was hard to care very much about that extra point. And it was a brutal day for kicking. It mattered a great deal more that he was two for two on his field goal attempts. And for that matter, if you’re looking for stuff to be upset about, the long kickoff return (58 yards) was not optimal. But it’s difficult to quibble when the Steelers didn’t even punt until, what, the 4th quarter?

And who to commend most on the defense? Besides Harrison, of course. Ryan Shazier, with six tackles and an interception? The latter was huge, as it stopped the Dolphins cold at a point when they could have easily crawled back into the game. It is also his third interception in the past three games. Or Bud Dupree, with six tackles, a half a sack, and a couple of hits to Matt Moore that he won’t soon forget (and which may take a good chunk out of Dupree’s game check?) Or perhaps Lawrence Timmons, with an astonishing 14 tackles in addition to the two sacks. Considering how he appeared to be washed up earlier in the season, he has had a remarkable resurgence. Timmons didn’t get his first sack, or actually half a sack, until Week 5. He didn’t manage double-digit tackles until Week 7. Really amazing.

And how about that eight-game winning streak? The Steelers haven’t won eight games in a row since 2005/06, with the final win being the Super Bowl.  The Steelers can best that with a win next week, although it admittedly wouldn’t be quite as exciting.

There is so much more one could say about this game, and we will. But for now let’s just enjoy one of those really rare Steelers wins in which the outcome seldom appeared to be in question.

 

 

 

12 comments

  • It was a wonderfully stress free game to watch. The only bit of unease was after Ben’s first pick where Miami drove deep into Steeler territory. But then Mr. Harrison took it upon himself to keep them out of the endzone. What a strip sack it was!

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  • Something old, something new, James Harrison with a strip sack to cut off a likely scoring drive, Ryan Shazier with an interception to cut off a likely scoring drive. James Harrison long ago cemented a legacy of delivering big time plays at big time moments,and Shazier is rapidly building one. How much more would it take after a huge game in the playoff win against Cincy last year? With another strong performance in KC, it might be time to call Shazier officially clutch. With interceptions in 3 straight games along with 3 forced fumbles and 3.5 sacks, he can make an impact in a variety of ways and he does seem to have that rare knack for making the biggest plays at the biggest moments.

    Something old, something new, Lawrence Timmons had 14 tackles and 2 sacks on back to back plays, both of the “no doubt” clean win variety. James Harrison is understandably gathering the bulk of the attention, but Timmons in his 10th season is no spring chicken and is thriving with a improved supporting cast around him. Bud Dupree had a very solid game too; credited with a half a sack but really deserving credit for another. His clean win around edge required a flagrant hold that was practically as good as a sack. That also makes two consecutive games where Dupree has beaten a RT cleanly with technique, using repeated swipes in week 17 and a strong punch on Sunday to keep the blocker’s hands off him so that he could use his speed to turn the corner. Dupree looks well on his way to becoming the impact player he was drafted to be with 5 sacks (essentially 6) in as many games and playing better every week. His ability to chase down QB’s looking to scramble will be especially valuable against the mobile Alex Smith this week, and if he can continue winning with technique to apply pressure on a consistent basis it would be huge.

    Linebackers, Linebackers, Linebackers. The Steelers LB corps has become once again, and rather suddenly, a group very worthy of the name. Steelers linebackers are making big plays at all four positions and everything is right with the world.

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  • Toronto Steeler Fan

    Built for speed.

    I think we are now seeing the basic philosophy behind the defensive rebuild on full display. These guys are FAST. We all know that Ryan Shazier is blindingly fast, but he’s only the most extreme example. Did you see Stephon Tuitt chasing down Matt Moore from behind on one play? I remember thinking “awesome closing speed”, something you usually only say about guys who weigh maybe 60-100 pounds less than Tuitt.

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  • I think Mike Tomlin is obviously a good coach in many respects. Even with a franchise QB, you can’t build a record like his without being good at your job.

    But it is just maddening that he refuses to consider probabilities and consequences in his in-game decisions. He goes by his intuition, and his intuition causes him to make some unnecessarily risky decisions sometimes, and unnecessarily conservative ones at other times.

    With 4:32 left in the game, and an 18 point lead:

    1) There is little reason for Ben to be in the game in the first place
    2) If he is in there, he ABSOLUTELY should not be dropping back to pass under any circumstances

    The running play is the correct call on that 3rd down, leading to likely Miami getting the ball inside their own 20, needing 3 scores in about 3:50. (Of course, the running play might get the 1st down, too.)

    Miami has vanishingly small chance of winning the game, but one of the few outcomes of that 3rd down play that give them any hope at all is an interception, especially if it is returned for a TD.

    So, Tomlin/Haley risked the rest of playoffs by passing, which was the wrong call, without even considering the injury risk.

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    • I can’t say I agree with everyone’s criticism of Tomlin keeping Ben in that late in the game. Though we were leading by 3 scores, there was still quite a bit of time left in the game. My guess is they kept Ben, and Bell, and Brown in to try to get one more score to 100% put the game away. As they benched Bell and Ben after that series (I wasn’t paying close attention to everyone on the field so don’t know if Brown was benched), the game was at that point out of Miami’s hands.

      Really, this would be a non issue and not even discussed if Ben wasn’t wearing a boot after the game. It is 20/20 hindsight that makes for these criticisms.

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      • Well, it wasn’t hindsight. I and others were calling for it in real time. In that situation, the numbers say run the ball. The only way you’re losing the game is via a turnover. The injury risk is just the icing on the cake.

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        • We were in a bar with more than a hundred Steeler fans, and people were calling for Ben to have the rest of the fourth quarter off. You can tell him to be careful, but Ben’s gonna be Ben.

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  • It’s been awhile and honestly I forgot to mark this site. I always enjoyed reading Momma’s and Ivan’s words. I hope all is well with everyone. You may not remember me but I’m Pittsblitz56 from BTSC, Just stopped by to say hi

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  • Timmons has always been a slow starter, who really comes on in the second half of the season. People talk like he’s an old man, but he is only 30 and I believe he has a few years left. I was reading a Dolphins message board where several people were saying that the Dolphins need a really good MLB to shore up the center of their defense and they were suggesting Timmons because he is a free agent ( or will be after they win in Houston.)

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