Acme Fake Spike Kit Fails Steelers, Who Fall to Screwjob in Dusty Finish
Photo via Steelers.com
By Homer J.
All right. Cue the music. It’s Cliff Friend’s 1937 classic “The Merry Go Round Broke Down.” When the Steelers face the Patriots, it’s Looney Tunes, and too often the Steelers are Wile E. Coyote and the Tom Brady is the Road Runner. So cue the Looney Tunes music….Gotta wonder what Coach Tomlin has purchased from the Acme Corporation this time around, and whether it’s gonna work.
Either that or we’re the Washington Generals and the Patriots are the Globetrotters. But, as Krusty always says, “the Generals are due.” Rooting for the Steelers is the triumph of hope over experience, but hope, talent, and home field advantage can go a long way.
Why the hell are they running commercials locally when the game is getting underway? We missed the first entire minute of the game while they ran commercials…
Ryan Shazier in the house, waving the towel. Place is going nuts and it’s great to see him with family, friends, and Steeler family taking in the game.
After the Steelers have to punt:
Brady gets protection, goes long to Brandin Cooks for 43 yards to PIT 7. The Steelers are still having long pass nightmares….Burkhead off the left side for two yards and a TD. Davis was grabbed around the neck, but no call. Brady cut through the Steelers’ defense like that hot knife through butter. NE 7 PIT 0
At the end of the PIT series:
Ben play action, hits Eli Rogers just beyond defender, and Eli runs the last 15 yards for the TD. 7-7. 5:32 left in the first quarter.
Boz short kickoff bounces—taken by Lewis 7 yards to NE 24.
BTW, can someone explain to me why one of the NE writers commented yesterday that the PIT kicker was terrible and Gostkowski was killing it lately? He had, apparently, been paying attention, so I could only conclude he was talking about kickoffs, as Boswell is No. 2 in the league in field goal percentage and whatever number you can think of that is better than 1 for clutch factor. But yet Gostkowski was kicking it short all day, and in fact I’ve been wondering why more teams haven’t done that, given Tomlin’s known penchant for taking the touchback and the lameness of PIT’s return game. In which case, why is it brilliant strategy when NE does it and “terrible” when Boswell does? I don’t get it. Or maybe said writer doesn’t get it…
Things began better on this NE series:
Brady hits Gronk, wrapped up by Davis for a 2-yard loss….SACK!!!! Heyward up the middle dumps Brady for an 8-yard loss…The heat has been turned up—the rush was working on this series. [And after an unsuccessful 3rd-and-long:]
On first play of the second quarter, Ben goes long to Bryant who makes a spectacular diving catch at the NE 17 for 39 yards. Bryant stepping it up today. And eventually:
Ben gets all day, hits Brown who is sandwiched and kicked in end zone. AB helped off the field. Uh-oh. This doesn’t look good…. [Brown was, as it happened, out for the game, and for the near future at any rate.]
Ben sacked at the 33. He had time but nobody was free. Gonna have to be a 51 yard field goal attempt in the rain. [Fortunately our terrible kicker converted.] NE 7 PIT 10
At the end of the NE series:
Brady goes for a TD and Hilton clocks receiver in the end zone, incomplete. 3rd and 10. All Hilton does is make big plays, over and over…Gostkowski FGA (32 yards) is good. NE 10 PIT 10
During the next series: 2 minute warning. PIT ball on NE 21. Quick pitch to Bell, rips forward through a hole – first down at NE 9. PIT drive has taken more than 8 minutes, and 13 plays…25 seconds left in the half. Ben floats a lollypop to Bryant who is being held and makes a one-handed catch. JuJu does the Burfict taunt on Bryant for a great celebration. PAT good. NE 10 PIT 17.
But there is still 25 seconds left on the clock. How did that TD play take zero seconds? NE took a knee after the kickoff and the Steelers went down the tunnel with the lead.
First half, both quarterbacks have been brilliant. Ben is 15 of 19 for 182 yards and two TDs. Bray is 10 for 13, 132 yards. Bryant has been absolutely sensational – and, as Ivan says, win or lose, he’ll be able to name his ticket in the off season based on this performance.
Word is, AB has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation. Ouch, yoi, and double yoi…
NE gets the ball…
Brady with perfect pass to Gronk, who is blanketed by Davis, but there’s nothing he can do about it. First down at PIT 25….On 3rd and 6, Burns denies the first down, making it 4th and 1 on the 16. They put Gronk outside, and Burns defends on slant. Complete for first down…Burkhead fights for two, and Steeler defenders point to him and to medical staff. He’s hurt. That’s always scary and never a good look. Burkhead walked to the sideline.
Brady targets Gronk in right flat, but great play by Hilton to knock it away. (Alas, it was all in vain as Brady threw a strike to Cooks for a TD.]
Everybody here screams “miss it!!!!” And Gostkowki misses the extra point in the rain. NE 16 PIT 17
After a short PIT series ending with a punt FC at the NE 10:
Dupree and Heyward throw [Dion] Lewis for loss at NE 8. 2nd and 13. Brady makes a couple of plays, and then on 3rd and 2:
Steelers disguise defense very well. Looks like the middle is wide open, but Hargrave dumps Brady and Vince Williams make a huge interception and returns it to the NE 22. And then:
Bell slices off the left side, powers his way behind DeCastro’s pancake for the TD. Great blocking. In 13:27 of this quarter there have been four possessions. This textbook ball-control football. NE 16 PIT 24
The Patriots only advanced to the NE 42 before having to punt, although a great punt put the ball at the PIT 3…
End of quarter. The Steelers advanced (and then retreated thanks to a Villanueva holding call followed by a Villanueva false start. James Conner was hurt on a short gain, and it turned out to be an MCL. The Steelers would eventually have to punt back to NE. From the looks of the crowd, the Steelers played Renegade, but alas, it didn’t help much. However, the defense did hold NE to a field goal: NE 19 PIT 24 In the next series, one in which the Steelers really just needed to get a first down, as was mentioned so very frequently by PaVa Steeler, they didn’t. They punted to NE, and this is where things went seriously downhill:
Dion Lewis up the middle for the TD. Two point conversion attempt: Brady hits Gronk over Davis. Gronk again? Yep. Again. NE 27 PIT 24. The Steelers have 56 seconds left…
Ben hits JuJu short and JuJu responds with a spectacular run after the catch. Great downfield block by Bell. 6 9 yard gain. 1st and goal at NE 10. Ben hits the Outlaw at the 1 and he falls into the end zone for an incredible touchdown drive. 79 yards in 21 seconds. Play under review. Under review forever. Call overturned. Oh, dear God, what is this? Fake wrestling?
Ben tries fake spike, pass deflected and intercepted in end zone. Wrong call. Wrong play. Desperately wrong result. Gonna be a big controversy over the Catch Rule, and another one over not spiking the ball. Okay, we know they don’t live in their fears, but where’s the element of surprise with the fake spike? Ben’s done that before – against Dallas – at the end of a game, and the Patriots won a Super Bowl on a goal line interception. There was no element of surprise. Obviously. [Other than to the Steelers’ offense, who mostly wasn’t expecting it. Nobody ran a pattern except Eli, and three defenders followed him.]
So, it turns out this wasn’t exactly the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Although Gronk abused Sean Davis as bad as the Road Runner abuses the coyote, and just as repeatedly.
It was more like fake wrestling at the end. At our watch party, it was pointed out this was a classic “Dusty Finish.” That’s an actual term used among wrestlers and promoters, and it’s a perfect fit here. Here’s the definition:
“The Dusty Finish is the nickname given to a specific ending to a wrestling match in which one wrestler appears to have scored a win only to have the decision reversed, often on some small technicality.”
Fake wrestling, as we all know, needs a story line to maintain interest, and the “Dusty Finish” is used to create heat and build interest for a rematch. Hmm…
See you bastards in Foxboro. You and your damned refs.
22 for 30, 280 yards and two TD’s (shoulda been three) with a wet football in a pouring rain. Spread it out to eight different receivers, and never really lost a step after Brown was hurt. Ben was great until the last ill-advised pass.
RUNNING BACK: A-.
Bell had 117 yards on the ground, another 48 receiving, and he threw a great block on JuJu’s last minute catch and run.
WIDE RECEIVER: A.
A crushing loss when AB went out, but Bryant and JuJu really stepped up. JuJu was targeted six times and had six receptions for 114 yards. Bryant had a spectacular on-handed TD reception—one-handed because his other hand was being held by the defender. Last year, the Steelers had nobody step up against the Pats besides AB. This year, Juju, Bryant, and Rogers all made big catches, and they had help from their tight ends. But it seems like Ben and JuJu have total confidence in each other, and that makes all the difference with the loss of Antonio Brown.
TIGHT END: B.
Decent blocking. Three receptions on six targets, but it coulda/woulda/shoulda been four receptions.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B.
Did a good job overall, keeping it together for some very long drives. Had 35 minute time of possession.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B.
Two sacks, decent pressure at times on Brady. Heyward tipped a Brady pass on the final drive, and it coulda/woulda/shoulda been a pick. They gave up 77 yards rushing, which is neither really good nor really bad.
Vince Williams with a big pick. Dupree with a sack and some solid plays. Inconsistent. They really, really missed Shazier, because they had no answer to Gronkowski.
(Incomplete, I suppose, because there was no grade.)
Hilton made some spectacular plays. The rest of them, not so spectacular. Gronkowski was simply too big and too strong for Davis, and he beat him like a rented mule. Especially when it counted in the final three minutes. There’s that helpless feeling when you know what’s coming and can’t do anything about it.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B.
Boz is money, with another 50-plus yarder, and Berry had a key 60-yard punt late in the game. Coverage was decent, but there’s still no return game.
They adjusted brilliantly to the loss of the league’s MVP, and the offense continued to dominate. On defense, they went into some interesting sub-packages and hid the defense well, resulting in Vince Williams’ interception. That was a play where they fooled Brady. But in the end, they stayed with Davis on Gronkowski, and not only was that the wrong answer, it was no answer at all. And the fake spike was a catastrophically wrong call. Not sure whether that was Ben or Haley or Tomlin, but somebody screwed up on that one.
This one hurts. The loss of Brown [was] coupled with the loss of Shazier, and yet the Steelers still won this game in real time. They only lost it on instant replay in a “Dusty Finish” and a screwjob.
Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!