Morning Links (and Daily Thread)…

A quick daily look at what’s happening around Steelers Nation. And consider this your open thread for discussing the days events and, well, anything else that comes to mind about the Black and Gold.

– Apparently, Matt Spaeth was “stunned” by his two drops in the end zone on the final two plays of the game. I’ll be honest — and JJ mentioned this on the podcast (LISTEN NOW) — if Spaeth hadn’t run in front of Manny Sanders on the penultimate play, there’s a good chance Sanders would have made the grab. On the final heave, there’s no way Spaeth brings that ball down inbounds, even if he catches it.

Unless he plays special teams (or left tackle on the safety), pretty sure Spaeth’s not the reason Pittsburgh lost. [Tribune-Review]

– As we’ve probably all heard by now, even with the loss the Steelers are in the playoffs. If they beat the Panthers and the Browns to close out the season, they’ll get the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. Which potentially means the healthy return of Troy, Aaron and Heath. [Behind the Steel Curtain]

– After the late-season collapse a year ago, I was convinced that Troy was the most important player on this team. I think we saw that Sunday. Also: Manny says he was held on that last drive (You think? … Although, to be fair, it’s not like we should expect the officials to know what they were doing. For one, it was Pete Morelli’s crew. Second, they gave the Steelers a first down following a Mendenhall nine-yard run with 10 to go.) [ESPN]

– With Steelers Lounge Podcast No. 26 now in the books, this only seems fitting:

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  • Stephen

    I’m with you – it’s not Spaeth’s fault at all. I wouldn’t even say blame should be shouldered by the special teamers for the run back or by Scott for the safety. I mean, even despite all of that, Ben, the OL, and the WRs consistently outplayed one of the best defenses in the NFL – all the way up to the very last seconds of the game. That secondary’s response was to hold on every down, including on Sanders for what would have been a surefire game winner. We have only the officials to blame for this one.

    Now, naturally, if the Steelers don’t allow some points here or some points there, or score every time they have the ball, the godawful officiating they’ve had since the Oakland game wouldn’t stop them from winning. But I don’t think we should expect our team to play superhuman football every possession just because the officials at best are incompetent and at worst are corrupt.

    • ktulu22

      I don’t blame Spaeth for the loss but the next to last play was a flat out drop. He has to make that catch

  • GlennW

    Question from the end of the game: did the Steelers really not use their 3rd timeout? I certainly thought we had, but that’s not what the official gamebook shows. If we really did have a timeout, we needed to use it after the first down to the 10, instead of wasting time and a down with the spike. Then from the 10, if a completion is stopped short of the endzone with the clock running, only spike the ball then– from a time perspective, it doesn’t matter what order the timeout/spike are used, but don’t leave a timeout on the table.

    I want to believe that the gamebook is just wrong, which might be the case…

    • GlennW

      Never mind. I am 100% certain that we used our final timeout after the sack/fumble that left us in 3rd-and-24. It’s just not recorded in the gamebook for some reason.

  • countertorque

    Spaeth did not drop only the last 2 passes thrown. He had at least 2 drops earlier in the game. I think he played well overall. But, I think that if Heath played, we win this game.

  • Anonymous

    +1000 on Polamalu’s importance. The defense got pretty good stats, but anyone who has watched the Steelers this year could see the difference, especially on the run defense. Also, does anyone think Troy would whiff on the sack on Sanchez on the Jets’ go-ahead drive as Mundy did? Not that Mundy really played poorly, but Troy takes a decent NFL defense and turns it into the best run defense of the modern era.

    • DC in ATL

      By my count the Steelers have been 77-34 in games he’s started (including playoffs) since Polamalu became a starter in 2004 and only 11-9 without him.

      That 77-34 record translates to a 0.694 winning percentage, or slightly better than an 11-5 team on average.

      Without him, that 11-9 record equals a 0.550 winning percentage which is roughly equivalent to less than a 9-7 team.

  • Cols714

    Watching the replay of the handoff that everyone is mad about, it looks like there is tons of running room if Scott would’ve just chipped his guy just a little bit.

  • Cols714

    And yes, Spaeth dropped some passes, but nothing that was an easy catch. Heath probably makes some of those catches, but he’s a probowler