The game began with a mistake and also ended with one. But they were very different mistakes.
Given that Steelers-Ravens games generally come down to a field goal’s worth of points, sending the kickoff for the Ravens’ first drive out of bounds was sub-optimal on the part of Chris Boswell. In fact, the Ravens appear to be Boswell’s kryptonite, as the botched rabona-style kick he attempted in the previous Steelers-Ravens match will presumably live on for years on YouTube. Fortunately, in this instance the Ravens were not able to take advantage of the good field position as they went four-and-out.
The final mistake of the game was perhaps more serious. Admittedly there were only four seconds left in the game. But this is Steelers-Ravens, and anything can happen. The Ravens still had a time out, and we’ve seen the patented Joe Flacco heave-‘n-pray offense too often to not have flashbacks as they lined up. And indeed Flacco completed what turned out to be his last pass, but it was to Ryan Shazier, so that was all right. At least if you are a Steelers fan.
by Ivan Cole
What were your hopes and fears going into this latest edition of Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati? Mine would include the following: A ‘trap game’ type vibe, the possibility of significant injuries to key players, chippyness, meltdowns and outright violence, and finally, black and orange tears along the Ohio River.
What we got with Pittsburgh’s 24-20 victory was all that and a lot more as, like some well-honed vaudeville act, Steelers v. Bengals gave a holiday presentation of some of their greatest hits, plus a few other goodies, as they struggled to an all too familiar conclusion along the banks of the Ohio.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Matt Freed photo
This may seem like an odd subject for a post, but the whole question of injuries has a strange fascination for me. I suspect it is connected with the cognitive dissonance, you might say, I feel in regards to the subject at large, particularly in terms of head injuries.
I’m focusing on the defense because I’m hoping that most of what we’ve seen from the offense isn’t what we will be seeing with the actual first team on the field. And since the defensive backs are probably the position group that has generated the most angst (I’m guessing TE is a distant second) it’s worth having a look.
As I discovered, it can be pretty hard to figure out who lined up where and who was actually on the field. So I’m just going to approach the group as a whole, making some assumptions about who was likely to have been playing, based upon when the front-line starters mostly packed it in.
Charles LeClaire, USA Today Sports
I covered the first half of the game from the standpoint of the defensive front in Part 2, and we’ll move on to the second half of the game, where a host of young guys had a opportunity to catch the eye of the coaching staff.
Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports
My game recap of Steelers/Eagles was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic. It’s pretty hard to get excited about a game in which the Steelers did not score a single point, and which featured four interceptions in the first half. But even as I watched, and even as I wrote it, I knew in my heart of hearts that impressing Steeler Nation was not the purpose of this, or any, preseason game. The coaching staff is looking for separation as they have to get serious about who to cut, and they are looking to avoid injuries, especially for the guys they can’t afford to lose.
This was brought home very clearly by a comment to the article by George Siegal, who said:
…the preseason is about individual performance, not team performance… [Craig] Wolfley said that if you watch a preseason game as a game, you’ll be disappointed, but if you watch it with a scouting eye, watching certain players to see how they play, it will be interesting. I’m paraphrasing, not direct quotes.
Both of those apply to this game in a big way. It seems to me that Coach T uses these games to evaluate players even more than most other teams. Other teams seem to get excited about the game, Tomlin gets excited (as excited as he gets anyway) about a player making a good play. He will get his backups in against the opponents first team as much as he can. Some coaches are concerned about winning because their teams need to learn how to win, that’s not the case in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen Coach T put second or third team players into bad situations to see how they do.
David Todd said in the post game show that in the last 15 preseason games the Steelers are 2-13. I have to approve of Tomlins methods, because it seems to work. He could keep the stars out for the entire preseason and they wouldn’t miss a beat and the players who need the reps are getting them. But it sure makes these games tough to watch..