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Steelers Dominate Home Opener

Posted By Rob Stroup On Sep 17 2012 @ 8:28 pm In Pittsburgh Steelers | 2 Comments

Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers overwhelmed the New York Jets, 27-10.  To quote Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”  That was the story of the New York Jets offense.  On their first drive, Mark Sanchez efficiently moved Gang Green down the field on 4 for 5 passing, 80 yards, culminating with an in rhythm touchdown completion to Santonio Holmes (in front of Ike Taylor).  After that?  Crickets.  Or, more specifically, Sanchez was 6 for 22 and 68 yards and no touchdowns.  The Jets were able to pound the ball against Pittsburgh with 90 rushing yards.  But, New York’s offense could not sustain drives for the remainder of the contest with no passing game.

Pittsburgh moved the ball, using a short passing game that was successful throughout the game.  The Steelers had difficulty getting big chunks of yardage in the running game, but they did just enough to control the ball and maintain drives.  The Steelers had nine drives (including one where they were running out the clock) and scored on five of them (three TDs and two FGs).  Most teams win if they monopolize the time of possession.  Pittsburgh surpassed 36 minutes of ball control, and dominated the second half to tire the Jets defense.

Ben Roethlisberger looked more comfortable in the Todd Haley offense in week 2.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that Darrelle Revis, the all-world cornerback, was out for the Jets.  That allowed Ben to spread the ball around to all available pass receivers.  Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Heath Miller, Emmanuel Sanders, and even some of the running backs got open consistently.

Prediction Results
Prediction  Mike Wallace will beat Antonio Cromartie deep for a pass play.
Result  100% correct!  The 3rd and 16 may have been a jump ball, but Wallace won the battle and scored six points.

Prediction  Tim Tebow will be in for 10+ snaps.
Result  Hmm….that didn’t happen.  Tebow only made an appearance on one drive and immediately infused life into a listless Jets offense.  But, he only saw a few plays until it became a passing down when Sanchez reappeared.

Prediction  Jonathan Dwyer will break loose on at least one play.
Result  While he had a nice run late in the 4th quarter to set up Isaac Redman’s touchdown run, he didn’t have the impact I expected.

Prediction  Santonio Holmes will score a touchdown.
Result  Sure enough, it happened.  The first drive was great for the Jets.  Holmes was yapping all day long to the Pittsburgh DBs, but was rendered useless following that first drive.

Prediction  The Steelers will get at least four sacks.
Result  Unless some new math was invented, I missed on this one.  The Pittsburgh D had two sacks, but flustered Sanchez once he got past his initial read.  Sanchez’s pocket presence is atrocious.

Prediction  The home-opener crowd will cause a turnover.
Result  Hmm…I don’t think a muffed punt counts as being caused by the crowd, especially when it bounces off your helmet.  That was the lone Jets turnover.

Prediction  Pittsburgh will showcase something close to a 50-50 run/pass ratio.
Result  34 pass plays (31 passes, 3 sacks) and 28 runs.  Getting back to “Steeler football?”  Maybe…

Prediction  The Jets won’t get 300 yards.
Result  Correct.  They only had 219 yards of total offense.

Prediction  The Jets will run for less than 75 yards.
Result  Incorrect.  The Jets ran for 90 yards, and surprisingly effectively.  Pittsburgh took some chances in the running game to make plays.  This opened gaps and gave Jets’ RBs more running room than anticipated.

Prediction  Pittsburgh 27, Jets 17
Result  Only off by a touchdown in my weekly preview – I’ll take it!  It’s too bad that I gave the Jets more credit for their week 1 performance.  I should have kept with my 100% accurate score prediction from my preseason blog [1].


You Win Some, You Lose Some

The Winners
The offense showed a great deal of precision in the passing game.  Big Ben hit ten different receivers in different formations.  Short passes across the middle, deep routes along the sidelines, screen passes – it all worked against a top echelon defense.

The defensive secondary looked considerably better than week 1.  The tight press coverage was effective in taking away the Jets passing game.  New York’s WRs had zero catches beyond the first quarter until less than one minute remained in the fourth quarter.

LaMarr Woodley’s pass rush was evident all day long.  He may have only gotten one sack, but he reached the pocket to force quick, poor throws throughout the day.

Shaun Suisham hit two 45-yard field goals early in the game.  This buoyed the Steelers until their offense could get clicking and make their long, sustained drives count for seven points instead of three.

Dick LeBeau called a great defensive scheme to protect against the absences of James Harrison and Troy Polamalu.  There was constant pressure to combat the 3-step and 5-step drops that were so effective in the Jets dismantling of the Bills in week 1.

The Losers
Far too often, the running game is getting negative yards.  It is a combination of the offensive line not opening holes, and the running backs are trying to make plays behind the line of scrimmage instead of taking no gain (as opposed to runs for loss).

There were too many legitimate penalties against the secondary – pass interference, holding, illegal contact – especially in 2nd and long or 3rd down situations.  I understand that the DBs want to make an impression against their former mate (Holmes), but still…

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[1] preseason blog: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2012/09/05/steelers-game-by-game-predictions/

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