On Second Thought: Homer’s Game Notes and Grades for Steelers @ Lions
Photo via Steelers.com—Nice stiff-arm, JuJu…
You know the drill. Heavily edited game notes—Homer writes comments on each play—and his grades…Ed.
Homer began his notes with this, emphasis his:
JUJU’S BIG ADVENTURE. A 97-YARD BIKE LANE COMES TO THE MOTOR CITY AND LOOK AT JUJU’S PEDALS.
JuJu tweeted out part of his NFL pre-draft assessment last night:
Very cute, JuJu. Now please just don’t get a big head. You’ve been very refreshing so far…
First Steelers series:
Ben fakes a bubble screen and hits Juju for a big gain. Lions bit on the screen, and Juju got on his bicycle, big yardage after catch moving him into Detroit territory. Nice to start out with a 40-plus yard gain.
Two first downs on the ground, with Bell grinding out the yardage.
Ben – on third down – hits Eli Rogers in the end zone from the 14, but Rogers can’t hang on to the ball. Once again, Red Zone but no End Zone. Rogers was WIDE open, and Ben’s pass was less than perfect, but catchable. We miss that social media guy already.
First Detroit series:
Stafford runs to the left, gets time, finds Marvin Jones deep – beats Burns for 44 yard gain. Stafford had waaay too much time on that play. And then:
Stafford targets Ebron, who is thwacked by Davis, and the ball is dropped. 3rd and 6.
False start – 3rd and 11. Mihalik has the yips before the snap.
Another false start. Center rocked the ball, but didn’t snap. 3rd and 16.
It ended in three points, but that 3-and-6 was very enjoyable. And now, since this is all about JuJu, I’m going to put in most of the references to him, along with a few other quintessential Homer bits:
After touchback, Ben hits Juju for 18. Juju goes high and fights off defender for the catch. Juju putting on a show early.
Abdullah runs right, totally jukes out Haden, runs for first down at the 25. Will someone give Haden back his jock strap.
Ben throws deep to AB, who is handfighting with Slay, and no call. incomplete 2nd and 10. (The almost complete lack of PI calls until late in the game was odd, but I suppose it was already past the ref’s bedtime…)
Turnovers have been the Steelers’ undoing in the first half. That, and the Detroit patchwork offensive line has given Stafford too much time. Stafford has been the best player out there in the first half, with more than 200 yards passing, picking apart the Steelers’ zones, especially on sideline patterns between zones. Steeler linebackers have been unable to get to him. Where’s the pressure??? Halftime—DET 12, PIT 10.
The pressure was on the insides of the viewers, IMO…
Juju runs a short crossing pattern, and breaks four tackles, running like a choo-choo to the Detroit 26.
Ben had DHB WIDE OPEN in the end zone, and he missed him. Ben has lost his touch on long passes. (Dale Lolley thinks Ben is having trouble with his legs/knees/whatever, and not stepping into his throws well, causing the inaccuracy on a lot of his deep balls. Something to chew on, anyhow.)
Ben fires laser to AB for apparent TD, but AB called for offensive pass interference. 2nd and 18. Oh boy. We got them red zone blues again, baby. (But nothing like Detroit, which is after all appropriate…)
3rd and 18, Ben hits Brown on crossing pattern, and Diggs plays “spin the receiver,” sending him flying arse over tea kettle. AB was spinning around like the wheel on Wheel of Fortune.
Washington runs into a stone wall named Hargrave. Loss of one. Big hit by Wobble and Vince Williams. 4th and 2. Detroit RT Rick Wagner down on the play. Think they found his replacement at a UAW Union Hall. They’re down to their third or fourth string [left] tackle, and are using guys who were actually cut from other teams’ practice squads.
Detroit goes for it. Scrambles up the middle. Alualu maintained his position, and made the sack. PIT with goal line stand. Will take over at PIT 2.
On 3rd and 9 from the 3, Ben hits Juju down the middle, and he REFUSES to go down. Breaks two tackles and goes 97 yards for the touchdown. For a guy with no speed, Juju seemed to be fast enough. Juju now officially owns Steeler Nation. All aboard the JuJu Train! Steelers finally score from Red Zone. Their own Red Zone, that is.
20-12 PIT. 3:01 remaining in 3rd Qtr. Biggest play of the year? Prolly.
On 3rd and 4, Juju is wide open on the left. First down at the 43. 7:30 left. Wow, what a night he’s having.
Berry kicks very high and deep. Agnew with the fair catch at the 15. 4:55 remaining.
Anybody seen Deebo? (I think the whole world is wondering about this…)
2nd and 10. Stafford hits Tate at the 6. Hilton with tackle. 3rd and 5.
Draw to Riddick, who is snowed under at the 8. 3rd and 7. Two minute warning.
Will someone please pass Homer the Tums?
On 4th and 7, Stafford rushed by Hargrave, who powers his way through a triple team.. Shazier ALMOST has a pick, but the Steelers get the ball on downs at the 8 yard line on the incomplete pass.
On 3rd and 1, Ben tosses shovel pass to Juju for the first down. Great play call. The shift before the snap seemed to indicate the Steelers would be going to the outside, and the Lions bit on the shift. They moved defenders outside, and the inside shovel pass to Juju was met with weak resistence. That should do it. How appropriate that Juju would get the first down to seal the victory.
The game ball should go to the goal line defense. Has there EVER been a game in NFL history where a quarterback has thrown for 423 yards, and yet the defense pitched a shutout?
No Tuitt. No Gilbert. No McDonald. No Bryant. No Mitchell (for the second half). No problem.
Quarterback: B- Ben missed a number of completely wide open receivers. That 97 yard TD to Juju inflated his numbers. 17 for 31 was less than optimal.
Running back: B- Bell was decent, but not exceptional. That fumble just outside the Detroit 20 lowers the grade. Nix missed several blocks, and was less than optimal.
Offensive line: B Ben got good protection. Run blocking was less than optimal. Detroit hasn’t been that great at stopping the run, but they looked good against the Steelers.
Tight Ends: B+ Some big plays by the Outlaw.
Wide Receivers: A+ AB was his usual self, and Juju was all-world. Quite a coming out party, in prime time on national television, 197 yards. We’re all on board the Juju Train, and waiting breathlessly to see if everybody’s little brother passes his driving test on Tuesday. Oh, how we love this kid!
Defensive line: B+ They gave up 71 yards rushing, didn’t exactly have Stafford running for his life, but made HUGE plays on goal line stands when it really counted. Alualu played well in place of Tuitt. Hargrave was triple teamed on that 4th and 7 late in the game and still forced Stafford to get rid of the ball. Hargrave was awesome.
Linebackers: D+ Dupree was a total non-factor. Shazier and Watt made a couple of big plays in pass defense. Vince Williams made some of the biggest hits of the game. Stafford kept dropping passes between the backers and the DB’s, splitting the zones.
The offensive line did its job, but the linebackers did not. Dupree especially. He was being stood up all night, and is once again looking like a one-trick pony. Is he hitting the midseason wall again? He showed nothing when he was on the field, and when couldn’t get off the field in time when he had to.
Defensive Backs: C- They were sorely tested, giving up 423 yards passing. But they made some huge plays in the end zone, preserving this unlikely shutout. Sean Davis, especially, made some critical plays when it mattered most. Hilton made a couple of big plays, but Haden had, by far, his worst game as a Steeler. These guys graded F outside the ten yard line, but their stout play near the goal line was heroic.
Special Teams: A Boz was fine. Kickoffs were all either touchbacks or returners were tackled inside the 25. Berry had his best game of the year, and was his best when it mattered. NET Punt average 41.7 yards was outstanding, especially since Jamaal Agnew is a big part of Detroit’s offense. Punt coverage was critical against Agnew, and it rose to the test.
Coaching: B+ It wasn’t the coaching that caused the Steelers’ failures in the red zone. It was execution. The coaches pushed the right buttons, with five starters out. Once again, a nearly penalty free game, with 5 penalties for only 37 yards. The defense gave up 482 yards, averaging 7 yards per offensive play, but still, somehow, pitched a shutout. Somewhere, Dick LeBeau is smiling. Bend, but don’t break, was Coach Dad’s mantra, and they sure bent Sunday night in Detroit, but they didn’t break.
They go into the bye week with momentum and chemistry. They’re on a roll. We all work for Juju, who now officially owns Steeler Nation.
The universe is unfolding exactly as it should.