On Second Thought: Homer J’s Comments and Report Card
Photo via Steelers.com
As usual I will edit Homer’s game notes, with any insertions of mine in italics—Editor
Prior to the game:
NO BRADFORD? NO PROBLEM! It is somewhat comforting to see Bradford is out and the Steelers defense will have to face Case Keenum, proving it’s not just what teams you play, it’s also when you play them.
First Minnesota series:
Heyward looks very strong and quick against the new MIN line. Spectacular rush and pass block by TJ. Defense off to strong, aggressive start.
Second Steelers series:
Steelers again try to run. The timing is still off. The holdout is still haunting them…
Fourth down. Oldest play in the book. Force Vikes offside. It was almost comical, when everybody was expecting the Steelers to try to draw the Vikings offside. Sort of like the Road Runner and Coyote. You know what’s going to happen, it happens, but you still laugh…
Juju sighting. Ben throws a lay-down block. Gets in front of potential tackler and lays down. Manages to avoid fetal position.
Ben hits Bryant with a laser on a crossing pattern, and he outruns the defense
into the end zone. TD. Bryant ran a crisp pattern, Ben put the ball right on the money, and the defenders never had a chance to catch Bryant, who was at full speed.
Next Vikings series:
Heyward wrecks a run for a four yard loss. He’s spending the afternoon in the Vikings backfield, and having a most excellent time.
Vikes say ‘allo to Alualu. 3rd and 13. Rush four, seven back. Strong coverage by Hilton. Three and out! Defensive line is dominating the line of scrimmage.
End of 1st Quarter:
First quarter ends 7-0. Steeler defense dominated the quarter. Bryant looked great, and Bell and the OL are starting to get their rhythm back.
First play of second quarter, Ben goes super long to Bryant, who is tackled before the ball ever gets there. More flags than a Fourth of July parade. All for pass interference. First down at 10 yard line…
Shovel pass to Juju for the TD. behind Foster. Bell seals. JUJU, welcome to the end zone and the oldest established permanent floating crap game in the ‘burgh.
Later in the quarter:
Ben misconnects with AB. That’s the first target of Brown to miss all year. [Then] Ben tries Brown long, and it’s too long. [In fact Ben would have a stretch of 0 for 5…] Battle between AB and [Xavier] Rhodes is terrific football.
Near the end of the 2nd quarter:
Ben hit before he throws, still has strength of remain upright, finds AB on sidelines. Ref says incomplete, but booth review is needed. Booth review overturns the ruling on the field. It’s a catch and a first down. Ben has completed five in a row.
14-3 at the half.
Heyward wraps up Keenum as pass falls incomplete. Heyward is having an absolute monster game. Fake punt. Dirty Red sniffs out pass on the fake and defends against the pass. Steelers get turnover on MIN 36. Big play by Dirty Red on spacial teams again. This is becoming a habit.
Later in the quarter:
[Dalvin] Cook runs like a truck and won’t go down until Chick finally drags him down. Impressive run. Cook is the real deal.
First and goal on the one. Ham brings home the Bacon for MIN from the one. PAT no good. 17-9. Another gift from MIN special teams.
And later still:
Vikes go offside, Ben gets free play, and throws very deep to Bryant who comes down with it at the 11 yard line. Veteran play, taking full advantage of the free play.
Screens all go black at the sports bar. Everything goes out here. We’re missing a chunk of the game here! Help!
When we get back, Steelers have ball at their own 19, first down.
Up the middle to Bell for six.
End of third quarter. 20-9.
And later yet:
On 4th and 2. they try to draw MIN offsides, and waste a time out. Their third and final time out. What were they thinking? Now they can’t challenge anything. Kanaday screws up the snap. Called for 5 yard penalty. O Kanaday! Glorious, you’re not. We miss Holba.
Boz punt downed on MIN one yard line. Running into the kicker declined. Really puzzled by last sequence. Wasted time final time out, then got called for five yard penalty – so didn’t try field goal. Then they get the five yards back on a running into the kicker call, but still don’t try FG. It is a puzzlement. (I too found this confusing. Maybe somebody out there can explain it…)
And as time ticks away:
Three PIT runs up the middle eat up 21 seconds, all three MIN time outs, and get three yards. Two minute warning
After the field goal:
4th down pass complete, and fumbled by Thielen as he stretches for the first down. [Actually I think Thielen was trying to shovel it to another receiver, but the effect was the same, whichever it was…] Recovered by Artie Burns. That’ll do it. 3-2-1 WIN!
Homer J’s REPORT CARD:
DEFENSIVE LINE: A. Heyward was all-world and MVP. Gets the game ball.
Alualu was solid, and Gravedigger dominated.
LINEBACKERS: B+. WATT and Dupree were spectacular. The spark left when Watt went out, which showed just how much he meant to them.Chick did a good job filling in for Watt, but it’s amazing that a rookie in his second game means so much for the Steeler D.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: C+. Would have been a B- except it was against Case Keenum. Hilton looked good once again. Secondary
didn’t make a lot of mistakes, and were slightly above average.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C+. Better than last week, and that was clear with the running game. Villy had a bad game, but had been sick and became dehydrated during the game. But still not up to expectations.
TIGHT ENDS: C. James missed a key block, but made some nice catches and was otherwise okay.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A. Ben spread it around a lot more. Eli was excellent. Bryant was excellent. Juju threw some outstanding blocks, scored a TD, and dragged a defender on another reception. AB was solid. Too many weapons!
RUNNING BACKS: B-. Bell and his line are still working out the coordination, and he was markedly better than last week. Conner looked good in limited action.
QUARTERBACK: B. Spread the ball around, and threw some deep stuff that led to big gains. He was hot and cold all afternoon. LIke Bell, he’s kind of rusty and trying to find his rhythm.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Dirty Red made big play on fake punt. Boz was perfect, thanks to a penalty that negated a bad kick. Kickoff coverage was excellent. The Vikings managed to flip the field repeatedly in the kicking game. Kanaday muffed a snap on an FGA. Holba, we hardly knew ye! And there was the downed punt at the one.
COACHING: C. Throwing away your final time out with 8:25 remaining, which means you can’t challenge anything, is inexplicable and inexcusable. Some of the play calling, with the emphases on the deep passes when the middle was open and crossing patterns were working, was hard to explain.
We are so damned spoiled that the Steelers can win by 17 points against a very good team with one of the best defenses in the game, and we still carp and moan like the worst bunch of yinzers.
Life is good.