One And Done

That collective shriek you heard around 8:04pm Eastern Standard Time was that of the Steel Nation as they saw the Steelers Stairway to Seven end with one 80 yard, 11 second play in overtime. This was the first game in NFL history to go to overtime under the new NFL rules that were put in place in 2010. The new rules allow each team a possession in overtime unless the team that scores first puts a touchdown on the board. Well, that’s what happened tonight, the Broncos put up a touchdown on the first play and the season for the black and gold ended.  It should never have been allowed to get to that point however as the Steelers were the heavy favorite coming into this game as they put up four more wins than the home team Broncos, they had the better offense by leaps and bounds, the better defense, the experience and the Super Bowl wins to back it up.  But as they say, that’s why the play the game.

The Steelers dominated the first quarter statistically but were only able to muster a 6-0 lead after the first period. The second quarter was the quarter that cost the Steelers the game and their season along with it. The Broncos who couldn’t manage a first down in the 1st quarter put up 20 straight points on the leagues #1 defense and essentially locked in their ticket for next week’s game against New England along with it. Not many teams can allow a 20 point run and live to see another day and the same held true for the Steelers. While Big Ben was able to mount a massive comeback to force overtime, it wasn’t meant to be. 

The defense was really at fault in this one, along with the coaching. In our pre game we had stated we felt the team should stack the box against the league’s #1 rated rush offense and force Tim Tebow to beat them in the air.  Well, that’s what the black and gold did, a solid plan to start, but Tebow burned them early and often.  The early part we can stomach, the often part we cannot.  Tebow completed only 10 of 21 throws all game long but he had 316 yards in those 10 completions, including the final play of the game for an 80 yard game winning score. It was not acceptable to allow Tebow big throw after big throw. Once it became apparent that he was able to make those plays, the Steelers should have made adjustments and dropped guys back into coverage earlier than they did. When they started doing that more in the 2nd half they were able to hold the Broncos to only 3 points. However, the first play of overtime what did they do, they allowed Tebow to beat them by stacking the box again. Why would they EVER do that when the new rules are very clear that a field goal cannot beat you but a touchdown can!  There was no safety help and Ike Taylor was burned on the crossing route and then BOOM, game over. In fact, Taylor was burned all day and had a big hand in costing the Steelers the game. He gave up several big plays and had a pass interference penalty as well. He shouldn’t have been much of a factor in this game but instead he led the team in tackles with 7. When your #1 cornerback leads the team in tackles you know your team had a bad game. That should never, ever happen.  Another reason the defense failed was because they were unable to get to Tebow even once. They had no sacks and in fact they had no QB hits. Even the lowly Tim Tebow who on the season completed less than 50% of his passes, is able to burn you when you can’t hit him.  It’s unacceptable. Allowing the Denver Broncos 447 total yards is unacceptable. Allowing Tim Tebow 316 passing yards is unacceptable and losing the game is unacceptable. The defense and the coaching failed.

Offensively, while it was a slow start for Big Ben and it was apparent his ankle was bothering him, they were able to muster a very nice rally and get this game into overtime. Big Ben looked hobbled and hurt at times, including a stretch where he missed on 7 straight passes, but in the clutch, Big Ben came up big. On the day he hit 22 of 40 passes for 289 yards and a beautiful TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery to tie the game late.  Isaac Redman proved he can be a starting running back on this team and managed 121 yards on only 17 carries. The receivers showed they have some serious depth as Emmanuel Sanders was the team leader with 6 catches and 81 yards as the Broncos concentrated on the Steelers top two threats Wallace and Brown.  The main offensive problem, aside from Ben’s ankle issues early was the offensive line. They allowed Big Ben to be sacked 5 times including one at the end of regulation that may have cost the team the game and they allowed him to be hit another 6 more. That’s not going to get it done in crunch time and it didn’t.  While yes the comeback was impressive, the job fell short thanks to these clowns on the line. 

The coaching staff really ought to ashamed as they did a horrific job of preparing. As fans we can sit here all week and talk trash and assume our team is going to win the game and make plans for the following week, as coaches, you can’t do that. However, that’s what looked like happened. The Steelers were completely unprepared defensively and even thought Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton went down early in the game, that’s no excuse. Tomlin always preaches to his players that “The Standard is the Standard” when it comes to stepping up and making plays, well that has to go for coaches too.  It truly felt like they looked right past this Bronco team when they were scheming for this game. The team made costly mistakes including 6 penalties for 61 yards, bad snaps, dropped balls and horribly played defense. What were they doing all week?   While the players make plays, they take on the persona of the coach and today that persona was sloppy. They’ll have all off season to think about this one.

The team started the year with the hopes of getting back into the playoffs and making another run at a Super Bowl appearance. While they were able to get back in the playoffs, it was all for naught as they faded away into the night along with the 2011 version of the Stairway to Seven.


Hines Ward didn’t catch one pass and it may very well have been his last game in a Steeler uniform.

The Steelers will be 20 million dollars over next years salary cap before the season starts so many cuts and roster changes will be made in the off season.

This was Big Ben’s first road playoff loss.


Thanks to the Steelers for a great 12 win season and we hope to see you back in contention in 2012!


2 Comments on "One And Done"

  1. longarm on Mon, 9th Jan 2012 2:37 pm 

    Good article can’t add anything you said it all. Going to be a long off season. Let’s hope they do well in the draft and pick up some much need youth.

  2. kiki on Tue, 10th Jan 2012 5:05 pm 

    I think everyone looked past the Broncos as you said. Even though we had many injuries, I believe the defense should have and could have played a better game. It was so disappointing…