YCOD Stunned as AB and Steelers Celebrate Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night Early
By Homer J
Homer has been asked to announce that the Yinzer Cult of Doom’s weekly post-game Bitchfest and Kvetching Bee has been postponed for lack of material. The YCOD promises to return next week or whenever they can find something real or imaginary to complain about, but they are taking a bye week of sorts after last night’s game to grab some smelling salts and try to come to their senses. A forty-burger can do that to you.
Homer, as always, apologizes for any inconvenience.
Here is some of Homer’s game commentary, and his grades. You can probably guess from the preceding that he was pleased…
Are you ready for some football? NOOO! It’s not Sunday. But if ya gotta do one of these a year, let’s get it over with…
First Steelers series:
Ben hits JuJu for 11—he’s bending LeBeau’s “bend don’t break” D.
Ben gets a free play [due to] TEN offsides, goes long, and throws a jump ball to AB for the touchdown. 7-0 PIT. 75 yards, 2:35 seconds. Helluva start. And next:
Mariota overthrows receiver on blitz, and Hilton, playing centerfield, makes the pick and returns it to the TEN 24. (And after the Steelers settle for a FG on that possession:)
Murray stopped on third down, but Delay of Game, no play, 3rd and 6. TEN actually got a break with D-O-G. And then:
Mariota evades the blitz and scrambles to the goal line, breaks the plane and scores. Mariota was impressive on that drive, but it was a delay of game penalty that saved them early in the drive. 10-7 PIT
After the Steelers go 3-and-out:
Mariota hits Murray on quick sideline pattern and moves it to the 30, into field goal range. 48 yard attempt by Ryan Succop blocked by T.J. Watt. Maybe this is Danny Smith’s week to shine. (I will just add that it was only a small payback for Ryan Succop breaking the hearts of Steeler Nation, back when he was with the Chiefs. If you don’t remember the play I mean, one in a game the Steelers weren’t a part of, you were apparently not as deeply scarred by it as I was…)
Steelers get the ball at the PIT 38. The Steelers got off to a great start in this game, but Tennessee has outplayed them since then…Ben sacked at PIT 30—another three and out. Steelers offense started strong and has completely fizzled since the first two drives. (And after the Titans had their first three-and-out, the Steelers did it again—went three-and-out, that is. And then:)
Mariota picks up nine with pass to Henry at midfield. They’ve moved 49 yards on this drive (which began with a stellar Berry punt downed at the two by DHB).
Coty Sensabaugh jumps a route and picks off Mariota, returns it to the TEN 19. Huge play by the Next Man Up. Biggest play in the game so far, if they can take advantage of it…
3rd and Goal from the 15—False Start, DeCastro. now 3rd and Goal from the 20. This is really ugly. Ben scrambles to get to the 9. Which was where they started this series of downs. The Steelers picked off two passes and gave Ben great field position, but the Steelers had to settle for two field goals. 13-7 PIT with 1:37 left in the half.
Hilton on blitz upends Murray for four yard loss. PIT time out.
2nd and 14: quick pass to Matthews for four, PIT time out.
3rd and 10: Henry stopped on draw. Final PIT time out. 1:18 left. (Given that the Steelers scored during this interval, I expect there will be many many callers to the sports radio stations and many comments on the various articles about Tomlin’s stellar clock management. Oh, wait…)
50 yard field goal attempt—Boz is perfect. 16-7 PIT with :18 seconds left in the half. (Titans take a knee. Cue ominous music…)
First play, Mariota on play action, Sensabaugh beaten by Rishard Mathhews, 75 yards for a touchdown—11 seconds into the second half, and the Steelers are back on their heels. 16-14 PIT. (And after a number of plays, enough of them successful:)
3rd and 11: Ben hits JuJu who goes way up and takes a big hit and holds on for a first down. Big play by JuJu—takes it down to the 5. Ben hits AB on quick slant for a touchdown. JuJu celebration—he powerlifts AB. 23-14 PIT.
After “Mariota shreds the secondary…”
Mariota hits Delanie Walker for a touchdown, but he drops it. (Just more evidence it was the Steelers’ night—a drop on an easy, uncontested pass by the No. 1 TE in the league, according to PFF…)
Mariota sacked for a big loss by Cam Heyward at the PIT 28. Field goal attempt good. 23-17 PIT.
On 2nd and Goal from the 8, Bell slices through the line behind a great block by Ramon Foster, and Villanueva sealed it from the outside. He breaks the plane for a touchdown (or so we thought. At least they managed to get the celebration in.) Play overturned, 3rd and inches, end of the third quarter.
Nix in backfield, play action with Bell, Ben hits Outlaw (Jesse James) in the end zone for an easy touchdown. No review of this one. 30-17 PIT, 14:56 remaining.
(Next TEN series:)
Mariota had a bad miscommunication and nearly threw another pick to Sensabaugh, who dove for the errant pass but couldn’t reach it. 3rd and 11.
Mariota incomplete to Walker. Three and out.
Kern punting from end zone to AB on the 30. AB runs it back 17 yards to PIT 49. The Steelers seem to have brought along their good special teams today. Their very good special teams.
Ben targets JuJu, who is held. Pass interference at the TEN 15. JuJu is starting to impose his will on smaller defensive backs.
Bell slices through the left side for five yards, 2nd and 5.
Ben play action, throws high to Brown who makes a circus catch with one hand, pressing the ball against his helmet. OMG! Oh, No, he didn’t! 37-17 PIT. Gotta guess Haley’s job is safe for another 10 days or so. Then:
Mariota over the middle, pass knocked up in the air by Artie Burns, and it’s intercepted by Robert Golden at the PIT 48.
Ben throws down and out to Bryant for 1st down at TEN 28. Excellent timing pattern, which is very good to see.
Ben scrambles, desperation toss to Bell who runs all over hell and creation, behind 104 blocks, down to the 17. Welcome back to the schoolyard, Ben!… Field goal attempt good. They just put up a 40-burger on Tennessee. PIT 40, TEN 17.
Mariota incomplete on 3rd and 5. They’ll go for it on 4th down… Mariota picked off by Sean Davis, Steelers’ fourth INT of the night—returns it to the TEN 21.
It’s Landry Jones time. Hands off to James Conner for five. Two minute warning. 2nd and 5. Jones in victory formation. Takes three knees, giving Tennessee the ball with 44 seconds left. Mariota takes a knee, and a second knee…and it’s over.
There’s a real love fest going on after the game, with Ben hugging LeBeau and everyone else saying Hi to their beloved Coach Dad.
Four picks and five sacks. Forty points. This was by far the best performance of the year in all three elements of the game—offense, defense, and special teams.
QUARTERBACK: A. Ben was okay in the first half and other-worldly in the second. It was great to see him doing schoolyard stuff again. He looked ten years younger. All year we’ve been waiting for the offense to break loose, and even wondering if it was going to happen. Well, folks, it happened last night.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A+. AB had one of the greatest games of his storied career. 11 catches, 144 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a total circus catch! JuJu was dominant in the second half, and Bryant had his mojo back.
RUNNING BACKS: B. Bell was especially effective as a great blocker, saving Ben. He ran well, caught a few passes and dropped a couple. Another day at the office for Le’Veon. Conner was fine.
TIGHT ENDS: A-. Outlaw was used heavily and rose to the challenge.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A. Hey, they got a 40-burger. Everybody gets a good grade.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A. Five sacks. Contained Tennesse’s running game. Kept Mariota under control for most of the game. Heyward was especially solid.
LINEBACKERS: B+. Vincenzo had some big plays. They were solid on the blitz, and kept Mariota running for his life or trapped in the pocket.
SECONDARY: A-. Okay, they played without Haden and Mitchell. So who saw them getting four interceptions???? They gave up a couple of big plays, but they had more tha enough splash plays to seal the win.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A+. They did everything right. Everything. Perfect night.
COACHING: A. They got out of the gate quick—they were totally ready to play on the short week against a team who was well-rested and healthy. The patchwork defensive backfield had four picks. Even Tomlin’s clock management left nothing for the Yinzers to complain about.
Not even the Yinzer Cult of Doom has any reason to complain about this performance. Of course, they don’t need a reason. But they must understand that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should.
(There is one bad outcome for this game, at least for those around me. I was wearing a Steelers T-shirt (official, of course : ) for the first time this season. I apologise to the offense, who clearly was affected by my thoughtlessness earlier in the season. Now I suppose I have to wear that same shirt for every game unless and until they lose, without washing it. That’s how it works, right?)