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    Default Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Steelers defend late-game strategy

    By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Monday, October 4, 2010





    Running back Rashard Mendenhall said he had no qualms with the Steelers keeping the ball on the ground late in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens.

    In fact, Mendenhall welcomed the challenge of trying to run out the clock with the ball in his hands.

    "We knew we needed one first down, and we were going to take three runs to get there,'' said Mendenhall, who rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-14 loss to Baltimore at Heinz Field.

    Unfortunately for the Steelers, they failed to get that coveted first down.

    On first down at the Steelers' three-yard line with 2:40 remaining, Mendenhall ran right for two yards. Following a false start penalty against left guard Chris Kemoeatu, Mendenhall ran up the middle for 3 yards on second-and-10.

    Following yet another false start penalty -- this time against backup tight end Matt Spaeth -- Mendenhall's number was called again. On third and 10 -- normally a passing down, and with the Steelers leading 14-10 -- Mendenhall ran left for no gain.

    "We had the mindset to take three runs to get that first down,'' Mendenhall said. "We felt like we would be able to get 10 yards on three runs.''

    Said coach Mike Tomlin: "We wanted to run time off the clock.''

    Mendenhall's belief the running game could move the chains late resulted from his success during an earlier fourth-quarter drive. Mendenhall carried seven times during a 13-play, 93-yard march that ended with his 7-yard touchdown burst around right end for a 14-10 lead.

    "We found some success, and we kept dialing it up,'' Mendenhall said. "The running game is hard work. You dial plays and try to get things (going). We moved the ball pretty well. Not well enough.''

    Mendenhall said it became even more difficult to run the ball with the offense being penalized deep in its own territory.

    "Turnovers and penalties always kill you,'' Mendenhall said.

    Entering the Steelers' bye week, Mendenhall leads the team in rushing yards (411), touchdowns (four) and carries (89). He has two 100-yard rushing games, averages 4.6 yards a carry and is on pace to gain over 1,600 yards this season.

    Mendenhall is even more excited about the offense's potential with the quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's return from a four-game suspension.

    Said Mendenhall: "Ben's a dynamic player.''

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_702598.html

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Mendenhall thought they were going to get a first down on 3 straight runs? Seriously? I just thought the Steelers would be able to get a little more room for the punt and eat up some clock.

    I still can't believe the counter play on 3rd down and the two false start penalties that preceded it. Arians and the O-line really **** the bed on that series. I'm not saying the Steelers should've passed in that situation, especially with the way Batch was playing, but things couldn't have turned out much worse outside of a turnover on that series.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by JerryGlanville View Post
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    Mendenhall thought they were going to get a first down on 3 straight runs? Seriously? I just thought the Steelers would be able to get a little more room for the punt and eat up some clock.

    I still can't believe the counter play on 3rd down and the two false start penalties that preceded it. Arians and the O-line really **** the bed on that series. I'm not saying the Steelers should've passed in that situation, especially with the way Batch was playing, but things couldn't have turned out much worse [HIGH-LIGHT]outside of a turnover[/HIGH-LIGHT] on that series.
    A turnover could have turned out better!

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    The offense seemed very timid to me witht the play selections.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by fezziwig View Post
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    The offense seemed very timid to me witht the play selections.
    Probably afraid of a turnover................ya know,which happened the last play of the game.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Stuck on the goalline you need meat and potatoes runs not that counter **** with pulling Kemo from right to left. Otherwise the strategy was fine by me, it was more along the lines of executing it that was the fail.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by joeyhurricane View Post
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    Stuck on the goalline you need meat and potatoes runs not that counter **** with pulling Kemo from right to left. Otherwise the strategy was fine by me, it was more along the lines of executing it that was the fail.
    Yep.Penalties sure do kick you in the ***,don't they?

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by Les View Post
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    Probably afraid of a turnover................ya know,which happened the last play of the game.
    that could have been the last pass Batch ever throws in the NFL.

    he did OK overall....got lucky on the one play.......hated he missed Heath wide open one time.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    I had no problem with the strategy. If Ben is playing MAYBE you try a pass but not with Batch. Too risky, IMO.


    The two false starts were killers. Not saying we would have got the 1st but there was no chance after that.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
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    A turnover could have turned out better!
    I agree it would have given us more time to get into field goal range.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Steelers' defense dismayed for failing to hold lead

    Tuesday, October 05, 2010
    By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



    Matt Freed/Post-Gazette
    Baltimore wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh celebrates after catching the winning touchdown pass against the Steelers in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Heinz Field.


    It didn't seem to matter that there were 11 penalties for 88 yards, as many as they had committed in the first three games combined.

    Or that the offense failed to gain 1 yard from their 3 after a tense defensive stand gave them a chance to run out the remaining 2 minutes, 40 seconds.

    Or even that a holding penalty against linebacker Keyaron Fox on a punt from the end zone shortened an already short field by another 10 yards.

    To members of the Steelers' defense, the only thing that mattered was that they failed to protect a late lead, something that dogged them last season. And that it happened against the Baltimore Ravens, a team they had dominated for most of the past decade at Heinz Field, only made it worse.

    "We still feel we had some control," safety Troy Polamalu said. "Had we made that last stop, we'd be singing a different tune right now."

    But, despite their 3-1 record, there was no singing or whistling in the locker room after a 17-14 loss Sunday to the Ravens, not when the defense gave up the decisive 18-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining.

    Not when Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed all four of his pass attempts -- none of which were contested by defensive backs -- and needed only 36 seconds to score the winning points.

    "There were opportunities out there, from the special teams to the offense and the defense to change the score of this game," Polamalu said.

    None of which happened, which is why the Steelers are no longer among the NFL's unbeaten teams.

    Even on a day when it appeared the defense would come to the rescue for one more week without Ben Roethlisberger -- getting big plays from nickel back William Gay on back-to-back passes from the 2 -- it all fell apart in a matter of 36 seconds.

    "We feel like we should have won," said inside linebacker James Farrior. "We definitely had the opportunity. They made one more play than we did."

    And a big one it was, not just because Ravens receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh easily beat cornerback Bryant McFadden with an out-and-up move to catch the winning 18-yard touchdown. But also because the Ravens anticipated a blitz call by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and kept in additional players to pick up the extra rushers.

    The max-protect worked to perfection, with running back Ray Rice picking up inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons and tight end Todd Heap coming across from the right side to pick up Polamalu. Both players were blitzing off the right side, outside the rush of linebacker James Harrison.

    "It's a call that's worked for us before," Polamalu said.

    This time, though, it didn't, and the defense is accepting the blame.

    In four games, the Steelers are ranked No. 1 in the league in run defense and have not allowed a running back to rush for more than 42 yards. What's more, they have not allowed a run longer than 11 yards and their average allowed per carry (2.6) is the lowest in the NFL.

    None of that, though, seemed to matter after the final-minute loss to the Ravens.

    "Sometimes when you are riding high, you don't look at your mistakes, look at the things you do wrong, as tough as you should," said safety Ryan Clark. "We definitely need to dissect this."

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10278...#ixzz11Vrhh1C7

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by JerryGlanville View Post
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    Mendenhall thought they were going to get a first down on 3 straight runs? Seriously? I just thought the Steelers would be able to get a little more room for the punt and eat up some clock.

    I still can't believe the counter play on 3rd down and the two false start penalties that preceded it. Arians and the O-line really **** the bed on that series. I'm not saying the Steelers should've passed in that situation, especially with the way Batch was playing, but things couldn't have turned out much worse outside of a turnover on that series.
    Using hindsight a turnover doesn't make a difference but in reality at the time of the play calling itself, the thinking was that Baltimore was gonna get the ball back with about 1 minute left and needing to drive 50 yards.

    Absolutely nothing wrong with the Offensive game calling on that last series. It should've been 3 consecutive run plays. You have a 4 point lead with a little over 1 minute remaining, you don't throw the ball. Legendary coaches that LVG and Stone probably love, are running 3 straight plays on the ground there

    Bottom line is that most defenses in the league can stop an average offense with no timeouts on their home turf from driving 40 yards in a minute to score the go ahead TD. Just like all of the pretty stats Ben and the Offense accomplished last season, it's all a bit more meaningless when you aren't making the plays you need to make in key situations. This defense is starting to because a model of statistical success that chokes routinely
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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    Using hindsight a turnover doesn't make a difference but in reality at the time of the play calling itself, the thinking was that Baltimore was gonna get the ball back with about 1 minute left and needing to drive 50 yards.

    Absolutely nothing wrong with the Offensive game calling on that last series. It should've been 3 consecutive run plays. You have a 4 point lead with a little over 1 minute remaining, you don't throw the ball. Legendary coaches that LVG and Stone probably love, are running 3 straight plays on the ground there

    Bottom line is that most defenses in the league can stop an average offense with no timeouts on their home turf from driving 40 yards in a minute to score the go ahead TD. Just like all of the pretty stats Ben and the Offense accomplished last season, it's all a bit more meaningless when you aren't making the plays you need to make in key situations. This defense is starting to because a model of statistical success that chokes routinely
    So we are ok with trusting Mendenhall and Batch not to fumble, when teams are expecting a run, but we don't trust Batch to throw the ball when they aren't expecting a pass? Hmmm!

    How many times have we seen teams needing one first down to win a game lose the game once they punt the ball away in the final minute?

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    Using hindsight a turnover doesn't make a difference but in reality at the time of the play calling itself, the thinking was that Baltimore was gonna get the ball back with about 1 minute left and needing to drive 50 yards.

    Absolutely nothing wrong with the Offensive game calling on that last series. It should've been 3 consecutive run plays. You have a 4 point lead with a little over 1 minute remaining, you don't throw the ball. Legendary coaches that LVG and Stone probably love, are running 3 straight plays on the ground there

    Bottom line is that most defenses in the league can stop an average offense with no timeouts on their home turf from driving 40 yards in a minute to score the go ahead TD. Just like all of the pretty stats Ben and the Offense accomplished last season, it's all a bit more meaningless when you aren't making the plays you need to make in key situations. This defense is starting to because a model of statistical success that chokes routinely
    I'm not saying the Steelers should've passed in that situation (although a short safe pass off PA on 1st or 2nd probably would've gotten a 1st down, but who knows with the way Batch was playing). I'm just pointing out how poorly everything was run on that series.

    - Two false start penalties on that crucial series is a refection of how unfocused and unprepared this team was for this game. That starts with coaching.
    - The counter play on 3rd down was God-awful. I'm not against running it, like I said, but running a slow-moving counter that begins in the endzone has disaster written all over it. And someone from another site pointed out that on the play, Legursky was called on to pull and lay the crucial block on the play. In his second start? He got blown up on the play and ended up near the GL. Just horrible design and call.

    I'm not excusing the defense on that last drive. Again, the defense choked, had no intensity and Lebeau was simply outcoached. Why did he have Troy blitzing on the TD pass? It made no sense.

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    Default Re: Steelers defend late-game strategy

    As much as I dislike Mark Madden he made a good point today. Why does the defense get the free pass ? He asked if we had to compare Jeff Reed to kick a 45 or 49 yard field goal to win the game vs. the defense stopping a 40 yard drive in 36 second with the team having no timeouts, what would you say the better bet was ? We all know Reed has a difficult chance of hitting a side of a barn when the team starts asking him to kick beyond the low 40's.

    Not only did Reed come up short again, the defense also came up short again. In the last so and so games the defense once again allowed a team to march on them when the offense had taken the lead. A great defense doesn't allow that. The entire team is guilty but if you are going to wear the label as a badass defense, you have to stop the offense when it comes down to it.

    Batch blew it with his candy arm pass to Ward that Ray Ray intercepted and I seen some open receivers that Batch wasn't seeing. Easy for me while on the couch. . The receivers blew it with passes that hit them in the hands. The bone headed flags some of our players had thrown at the worse possible times. Arians timid play calling didn't help.

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