Steelers Beat Patriots, 25-17, Halloween Starts Early

A few quick thoughts…

Maybe we should mentally prepare for every Steelers game by hoping for the worst. For a team that consistently wins a lot of games from one season to the next, this might be one of Pittsburgh’s biggest regular-season victories in I don’t know how long.

We’ve whinged for years about Dick LeBeau’s inability to adjust to Tom Brady’s Magnificence. Well, that changed Sunday; the Steelers’ cornerbacks played A LOT of press coverage and had a ton of success with it, even without Deebo, Potsie and LaMarr for much of the second half (even though he did plenty in the first two quarters). It leads me to believe that LeBeau didn’t have much faith in previous season’s secondary’s ability in man coverage.

Today, Ike, Willie Gay, Keenan Lewis (!) and Cortez Allen all had solid afternoons. And for as much as we’ve panned Lewis in recent seasons, the dude’s shown up in 2011. Hats off to you, sir.

Offensively, Hines wasn’t missed (on the podcast, we figured Jerricho Cotchery could handle the zone-buster role) and Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown continue to present real matchup problems for opponents (particularly those that cut their best CB and then IR their second-round pick, all days before the game). And save Pittsburgh’s penultimate offensive drive that ended sack-sack-punt, the o-line was stellar. Yes, the Pats’ defense sucks, but that hadn’t stopped the o-line before.

My only concern — and I mention this weekly, no matter how well he plays — is Shaun Suisham. He made three short-ish kicks — all important — but he honked a makeable 40-something yarder in the fourth quarter. That would’ve given Pittsburgh a 16-point lead. Instead, Brady got the ball, marched down the field and scored a touchdown.

Thankfully, the Patriots are worse at executing onside kicks than the Steelers are at recovering them.

One last thought: Troy’s fumble punch might’ve been illegal, but it’s a heads-up play. And Brett Keisel is my homeboy for not giving up on the same play to force the fumble.

Enjoy Halloween, nerds.

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  • Anonymous

    Steelers are now 6-2 in all five of the Tomlin seasons.  In the last thirteen half-seasons, they have been 6-2 in nine of them.

  • David

    Man, I was there when we last beat Brady on Halloween. Today we do the same on Halloween-Eve. Note to NFL scheduling committee: Please give us a home game on Halloween weekend every year vs. teams we haven’t beaten in a while.

  • David

    BTW, thought the booth fight between Nance and Simms on the safety was hilarious.

  • Anonymous

    The Steelers had nineteen plays that gained ten or more yards.  I’m sure someone will compare to league stats. Sounds like alot.

    • David

      Israel, our “O” is solid. My only concern going forward is our LBs. Silverback, Woodley, Worilds hurt.

      • Anonymous

        Don’t I know it.

  • Cols714

    Great game! The thing about this Patriots team that I was missing was their receivers just aren’t that great. Yes Welker, but besides him no receivers scare you at all
    Wow just wow, a great win. Let’s keep it up the next two weeks and the division is ours.

  • Joe Stitt

    Highlight of the game: Sometime in the 3rd quarter, CBS cut to Brady on the bench. He was doing his best Joe Flacco, eyes glazed over impression. Priceless.
    Lowlight: Anything involving Phil Simms. Calling Brown Wallace, or trying to explain why Young Money should be little money.

    1. I hate BA. But the man called another great game. Get off his back about the end of the game. Did running the ball work out for the Cowboys 2 weeks ago? Don’t think so. And don’t tell me anything over 30 yards is automatic for Shaun. He is the weak link on the team right now. If Ben rips off another pass to Brown like he did in the AFC Championship game last year, we’re praising BA for that call. The Patriots stacked the box, there’s no way we don’t lose yards running it either. 
    2. I wish it wasn’t past the trade deadline. I would trade anything for a guy like Josh Scobee. Shaun is a major liability the later we get into the season.
    3. I was honestly more worried about Woodley going down than Ben. He has been playing like a man on fire lately. Still think he got overpaid?
    4. Chris Carter did a respectable job. He didn’t make an impact like Woodley, but it’s good to know he can come in if necessary. 
    5. Hats off to our secondary. People have doubted them because they’ve played about lesser QBs, but wow. Would anyone have put more than $5 down on the Steelers holding Brady to under 200 yards? They’re so much better than they were at this point last year.
    6. I only have two bad feelings coming out of this game, and they’re both nit picky. One is dumb penalties. Clark and Kemo seem to be good for at least one penalty each per game. It’s frustrating. Hopefully Legs can get healthy and get rid of Kemo, but Clark needs to play smarter.
    7. Much like last year, the score wasn’t indicative of the closeness of the game. The Steelers were in charge all day. Let’s hope they have enough left in the tank to do this to the Ravens next week.
    8. How about them Ravens? Will the Steelers D smell the blood in the water?

  • Rob D

    1. We need a kicker. We won’t get another one but this guy will cost us games down the road. He gets very little elevation on his kicks and he’s dicey from 35 and out. I don’t understand why they can’t find a guy who at least booms it out of the endzone. Anyway…I hope its not a playoff game he costs us. Very worried.

    2. Red zone failures today could have cost them what should have been a relatively easy win. Not sure how that can be fixed..just do it better, I guess. The Oline looked very very solid today. Ben had great pockets to work out of.

    3. Congrats to Lebeau for trying press coverage and succeeding greatly. Why it took so long for a defensive genius to figure out MUST be a result of not trusting the personnel over the years we’ve played the Pats. That’s starting to change with Keenan Lewis emerging (can’t believe I typed that as I thought he was done as a potential prospect) and Ike having a superb year and even Clark seeming to have picked up his game greatly. Cortez Allen looked good today..it’s a really uplifting thing to be talking about the secondary as a strength! William Gay seems to have found himself too….

    4. Mendy..ran great today..wiggle combined with power in just the right amounts. Smart running from him today and there were some big holes to run through. Yay O-line..take a bow.

    5. Pats are NOT a great team anymore. I was looking at that D and that WR corps and thinking Brady must be glad he has those two TE’s and Welker to throw to because he literally has NOTHING else worth talking about. You look at all the draft shenanigans they’ve pulled the last few years and its amazing how little they have reaped from those seemingly bonanza of picks. As long as they have Brady, they’ll be there. But like the Manning-less Colts, they’d be revealed as mediocre without him. And he is getting to an age where they all lose some mustard off the fastball.
    A lot of Belichick’s moves worked in the past. Now they pull way more dumb ass headscratcher moves than great ones like pikcing up Randy Moss etc…..We need to worry about the Green Bay’s of the world in term of winning another championship..That’s a true rival for us now but its good to beat those guys anyway..Exorcism of many bad memories from the pre-Ben era.

    6. This team is looking SO MUCH BETTER and not just because they won today against a good offensive team. Everything just looked crisp and well executed..can you believe we were missing 3 starters at LB by the time Woodley got pulled? The pass rush went away but really..they did us proud..Sylvester is a player and Carter continues to impress..

    7. Gonna enjoy this one for a whole week.I have that luxury but I hope the Steelers get ready for what promises to be the game of the year so far next week. We are back in the game big time..right where we belong.

    • yoni

      Don’t be so quick to write of the Pats. I agree the offense isnt as explosive as it used to be (pretty much because of Moss) but it’s still damn good. Their D is garbage right now, but they have a history of getting better as the season goes along. Remember, we pwned’em good back in 2004, and they came back and whopped our asses in the playoffs. And don’t forget we got demolished by the ratbirds 2 months ago, and now we will be favorites against them this week. Things change.

      I’m happy that we exorcised the demons and finally beat Brady, but i’ll be even happier if we don’t see them again this year.

  • http://www.expensiccino.com Carl Natale

    What I really love about this game is the coaching and that the Steelers executed the game plan. This speaks volumes about what’s going to happen in the second half of the season.

    I have a question. What would have happened if the refs threw a flag after Troy knocked the ball into the endzone? Personally, I thought the play was brilliant. But what would the refs have done if they made that call or been able to reverse it on review?

    • David

      Good question. Patsies ball at the spot of the push, one last play?

    • Joe Stitt

      Was it really illegal? The rule is technically that an offensive player can’t advance a fumble forward.

      • GlennW

        Any player is prohibited from intentionally batting any loose ball forward.  Even the NFL has acknowledged that Polamalu’s play was illegal, but this would have been a very difficult call to make on the field in the convergence of three players on the ball (and that part of the play is not reviewable).

        http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d823a6659/article/steelers-polamalu-violated-nfl-rule-by-punching-ball-forward

        • Joe Stitt

          I was just confused because every explanation of the rule during the game spoke of the offense aspect of the rule. And the Steelers never gained possession. And you’re right, you can’t tell in the split second of seeing it whether or not Troy reached for or batted the ball.

    • http://www.expensiccino.com Carl Natale

      Thanks for the link Glenn. I guess the refs would have given the Pats the  ball 10 yards from the infraction. Lord knows what would have happened next. But I believe the Pats would have been unable to make another play.

  • Cols714

    Ted has gotten a lot of mileage out his whole “why did the Steelers draft Worilds over Vollmer…” rants. But today you can see why they didn’t draft Vollmer. He stinks.

    Hope we get Woodley back for this week!

    • ted

      Are you ever right about anything or will you ever shut up with your complaints about what I write? Seriously? Vollmer was projected as a fourth-round pick/long-term project who was drafted two rounds earlier with one of the Pats’ 8 billion 2nd-5th-round picks because they keep absurdly trading down, which is why they still lack a top pass rusher, deep threat at WR and have so few elite players to go with the league’s best player.

      The player I have bitched about continuously is Jared Veldheer, a projected 2nd-round pick two years who has better faster than I could have imagined, and is now an above-average, run-blocking left tackle for the Raiders’ dominant run game and a serviceable left tackle in pass pro. He would be starting for us right now at one of the two tackles and we would be a much better team, and face a far better off-season due to his cheap cap figure in 2012: http://www.steelerslounge.com/2010/12/jared-veldheer-ot-steelers-2010-2ndround-pick/

      BTW, I don’t like Vollmer, never have. Thought he was a boom-bust pick in the Tony Hills-mold who was worth a fourth-round pick. That said, he is not as bad as you think (had a tough matcup yesterday), essentially shares time and will finish the season as their N0. 3 tackle, and has been a far better pro than Worilds, whose only accomplishment thus far in Pittsburgh is helping to keep more athletic-training staff employed, because just like his under-achieving career at VT, he has trouble staying healthy. I still have high hopes for him, because of his speed, but you are the only one at this point who still believes Worilds was a good pick.

      • Cols714

        Sorry.
        Tackles that start with V and have two syllables. I was close. And chill the eph out, I complimented your last piece and thought you had a lot of stuff right.

        • ted

          True, and I appreciated those comments, particularly since some complain about any criticism, and I don’t how anyone can say (you did not) that McFadden should have been paid $2.5 million this year. But there is a big difference between those two “V” tackles and even though they were both projects entering the draft, Veldheer was a projected mid-2nd-rounder by most who ended up early in the third. Vollmer had played a lot less football and was viewed as a fourth-rounder, but the Patriots (as they often do) over-drafted him in the second round. That was far more of a reach than our reach for Worilds. The difference, of course, is they had a need at LT within 2 years and you have to reach for potential LTs, although not to that extreme.

  • ray

    A lot of my hatred toward NE died down over the last couple years…until I read this article on Friday: http://bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?&articleid=1376514&format=&page=1&listingType=pats#articleFull, which is just mean and contains no actual football information. Don’t know about you, but I’m writing Mr. Borges and asking him for a pic of the delicious humble pie he must be eatin’. 

    • countertorque

      Pats fans don’t like Borges either.

  • ted

    Obvisouly Ben and the receiving corps are deservedly getting a lot of love. But granted they did not face a good pass rusher, but you also have to give huge props to the o-line, particularly the makeshift and banged-up interior o-line which did face some pretty good opposition and allowed little pass rush up the middle and opened holes against big men like Wilfork and Haynesworth. Kemo played well and this was Foster’s best game considering the opponent.

    That said, the gameball goes to LeBeau, who exorcised a lot of demons. Never could anyone imagine we would dominate that offense with Harrison (best pass rusher) and Farrior (Smartest defensive player and still good in pass coverage) both out, which thus forced Timmons outisde (because Worlids is again hurt) in a game where we seemingly most needed him at ILB to help shut down their over-the-middle passing attacks. And then we still played well without Woodley (for the last 20 minutes), which resulted in essentially no pass rush from the outside. Keisel was a man on the d-line and Hood got good surge from the interior much of the day. Still, we need Harrison back this week if Woodley can’t go, and it would really help if Worilds could actuall play. I am scared to death of facing the Ravens with Timmons and Carter on the outside, which also prevents TImmons from covering Ray Rice on most plays.

    Oh, and don’t forget Ryan Clark in your justified praise for the DBs. His big hits had their WRs looking scared. If Ike Taylor is not selected for the Pro Bowl this year, all Steeler fans should boycot watching the game, although the hope is obviously that he is invited but can’t play because his team is in the Super Bowl.

    • Cols714

      Yep. The thing is, I think this was basically the same type of game plan they had vs the Packers in the Super Bowl. The difference being

      1. Keenan Lewis and Gay are playing much much better than McFadden and Madison
      2. The Packers have much better WRs than NE
      3. Rodgers is the best QB in the league

      The maturation or whatever you want to call it of Lewis is huge this year. He looks like the 2nd coming of Ike Taylor out there. Taylor is playing out of his mind right now and Cortez Allen is big and strong enough that he is able to take on those pass catching type of TEs that NE has.

      Great great game. 

      • ted

        Good points. Granted NE’s WRs are not good outside of Welker, Lewis and Gay were still matching up in press coverage all game against NFL WRs, and occasionally doing so without any safety help. That is something McFadden just cannot do against any opponent at this point. If the Steelers were not in such a bad cap situation for 2012, they might try to extend Lewis early and get him cheap before he proves himself as a starter in 2012 and then enters UFA.

    • Anonymous

      Did Kemo have a good game? I don’t have a breakdown, but my impression was that he was okay on rushes but kept getting pushed back into the pocket on passes and committed the same dumb foul as last week as well.

  • DoonYaY

    The missed filed goal was bad, but don’t forget about Suisham yanking the first kick out of bounds…  Giving the patriots the ball at the 40 instead of kicking easy touchbacks is a major fail.

  • Patrick C.

    I’m a Patriots fan and I want to say thank you for acknowledging that what Troy did was probably not legal. I in no way shape or form think the Patriots deserved in the slightest to win that game, redefined defensive let down. Every recap of the game and review by ESPN does not even show the play let alone talk about it. I’m not mad the Patriots lost but analysts should be accountable for telling the truth and not glossing over the gray areas. 
    You did omit the terrible call by the referee on Gronkowski’s [i think] reception on the goal line. Whether he was in or wasn’t you have to make that touchdown call so it is automatically reviewable to decide one way or another. That gives the pats another 1:30ish maybe to change the game, maybe. 
    I agree completely with Gostowski’s kicking problems, he is terrible. Always thought he was, not jumping off the wagon after this performance.
    Good article

    • Rob D

      Patrick,

      NE is always a game Steelers fans look forward to. The fact that we haven’t won many of them in the past makes it even more of an event.

      BB ..can’t believe he didn’t challenge that Gronkow. catch. I think it would have been a TD and could have really changed the result of the game since the STeelers were erratic in the red zone. Head scratching non-move..

    • Matt

      that was not a bad non-call.  BB had the choice to challenge and seriously, they were on the 1.  Steelers D came to play.

      Bad ref call was on that pass interference call though on 4th down in the endzone.  That was not a catchable ball by the receiver, which refs seem to totally forget is a requirement for interference.

      Troy’s play was not illegal, because he was not on the fumbling team.  This was explained somewhere on the web today.  Only the possessing team cannot advance the ball via swatting actions.  loophole, but heads up play by #43

      • Matt

        Er, my bad on the Troy play thing.  I see the league claims it is illegal, but I liked how Troy’s comment was, “whatever will get me in trouble, I’m saying the opposite.”  lol.  Pretty sure the NFL was trying to make the pats feel better.  :)

      • Anonymous

        It wasn’t pass interference. It was defensive holding. It was still incorrect though. On that same series (I think it was the play just before the TD) there was a play where the runner got smacked back at the goal line but didn’t go down. He recovered and started running forward again and was tackled at the four yard line. For some reason the officials spotted the ball at the one instead of the four, which makes a huge difference in chance of success.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Troy’s play was illegal, but it would have been a 10-yard penalty and there were like 10 seconds left, so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.  It looked like Ziggy recovered the ball had a knee down before his foot went out of bounds, but again, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

      I thought that the defensive holding call giving the Pats a first and goal was the right call.  It happened early enough that it is hard to tell how the TE might have been able to position himself.  I though the refs blew a PI on another earlier play, though, where a Steelers receiver was mugged in the end zone and then we had to settle for a FG.  Those 4 points were pretty consequential at that point, too.

      Scoring plays are only automatically reviewable if you score, not if a review would have said you should have scored.  BB said he didn’t challenge because he and his booth saw nothing that said they should challenge.  I’ve watched the play about 10 times and I still don’t see evidence of a score.  Gronkowski had one foot down when the ball reached him.  By the time the second foot was down, the ball was well outside the end zone. 

      • GlennW

        Agreed on the defensive holding– not defensive pass interference– call, which automatically negates the “uncatchable ball” situation.  Mundy had Gronkowski wrapped up pretty good and fairly early so I’m not complaining.

        If the Patriots were just going to show no sense of urgency anyway in running their final plays before their last TD, Belichick might as well have challenged even if he might have lost a timeout (and I think he would have won the challenge, based on the same evidence as the Steelers won the replay review of Holmes’ TD catch against the Ravens a few years back– instantaneous possession above the goalline).  Belichick has been using this “we needed to see evidence” excuse in his postgame interviews, but the Patriots took 41 seconds off the clock on that play, and another 46 seconds on the next play (which was stuffed).  Saving ~35 seconds on the game clock, now versus later– doesn’t matter when the time is saved.  The Genius really didn’t think this one all way through.

        • GlennW

          > Gronkowski had one foot down when the ball reached him.  By the time the second foot was down, the ball was well outside the end zone.

          Just to be clear here, the position of the receiver’s feet only matter with regard to ultimately establishing possession, NOT towards determining his forward progress.  Here’s the rule:

          Article 3: Forward Part of BallThe forward part of the ball in its position when it is declared dead in the field of play shall be the determining point in measuring any distance gained or lost. The ball shall berotated so that its long axis is parallel to the sidelines before measuring, while maintaining the forwardmostpoint.The forward part of the ball in its position when it is declared dead in the field of play shall be the determining point in measuring any distance gained or lost. The ball shall berotated so that its long axis is parallel to the sidelines before measuring, while maintaining the forwardmostpoint.Note: When an airborne player of either team completes a catch or interception inbounds after an opponenthas driven him backward, the ball is declared dead, and forward progress is awarded at the spot wherethe player established firm grip and control of the ball while in the air.