View from 522: Steelers vs. Dolphins, what a crazy ass game

Since Gretz is a season ticket holder he is going to tell you about all of the debauchery and insanity that takes place in the Heinz Field stands. 

The past two Steelers home games have been two of the most entertaining and wild games that I’ve been to in 12 years of attending games at Heinz Field. This just further proves my theory that bad teams often times play more entertaining games than good teams.

And unfortunately, the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers are a bad team. Or at best, a very mediocre team.

When the defense has played well enough to win this season, the offense has not (Weeks 1-3, the game in Oakland). Then the offense has played well enough to win (Minnesota, New England, Miami), the defense has not. They’ve been out of the playoff race, crawled back into it to give that brief sense of hope, and then lost two more games to fall back into “maybe everybody else can lose and we can win every game” desperation mode.

This is what bad teams do.

But at least they’ve been entertaining, and their 34-28 loss to Miami on Sunday was most certainly entertaining.

I think my favorite play of the game was on Troy Polamalu’s missed field goal return when the ball ended up in the hands of nose tackle Steve McClendon. Watch it again. He actually faked a handoff to somebody in the middle of the field and then turn around and lateraled it to Ike Taylor. He was basically running the triple option in the middle of the field. If Ike gets one more block, he takes it all the way.

And that was only the second craziest play of the game.

When the last play of the game began the stands probably had about 2,000 people in them. If Antonio Brown had stayed in bounds (why was he so close to the sidelines! He had room!) 100,000 people would have told you they stayed until the end. When the ball ended up in Marcus Gilbert’s hands all hope seemed to be lost, but then something crazy happened. Antonio Brown had the football in the open field, with only one person between him and the end zone, and he had the angle. It wasn’t just a miracle scenario that you were hoping for, this shit was actually happening.

He was going to score.

And then … well. He didn’t.

But that’s not why the Steelers lost. They didn’t lose because Brown stepped out of bounds. They didn’t lose because of clock management. They didn’t lose because Cody Wallace kept taking penalties in the fourth quarter. They lost because they couldn’t stop Ryan Tannehill in the second half and gave up 34 points to a Dolphins team that hadn’t scored more than 28 points in a game all season. In two years with Tannehill as their starting quarterback they scored more than 28 points just two times, both last season.

That’s why the Steelers lost. No other reason. Twenty-eight points in the snow, at home, against a so-so opponent with a ho-hum quarterback should be enough to win.

A few other thoughts.

  • This game was a complete microcosm of Troy Polamalu’s season. One or two flashes of brilliance and the Troy we’re used to seeing, and then a bunch of terrible play and ugly missed tackles.
  • Jason Worilds and Cam Heyward are the two best players on the defense right now, and unfortunately it looks like they’re going to lose one of them this offseason. Now that he’s finally healthy and seems to have found a spot on the left side of the defense I’m of the belief the Steelers have to do everything they can to find a way to keep him. He’s the only outside linebacker that has been able to get to the quarterback, and they can’t afford to make the same mistake they made last offseason with Keenan Lewis and Ike Taylor, when the young guy that finally came into his own was let go for the aging, declining veteran. I know letting Woodley go will be hell for the salary cap, but you know what? With the way he’s played the last two years, and his age, that cap space is going to be empty whether LaMarr Woodley is physically on the team or not on the team.
  • The snow made this game fun in the first half. Snow football is the best football. The only negative is on the walk to the stadium I slipped on an icy patch on the Clemente Bridge and fell on my ass. Then, just seconds later, somebody behind me hit the same spot and fell on their ass.
  • The guy sitting behind me was furious — FURIOUS! — that the Steelers tried to draw Miami offside at the end of the first half and was making the argument to his buddy, in a thick Boston accent, that the punt that followed was blocked because the Steelers tried to draw them offsides. How the two things are connected, I have no idea. But he did not like it. He then kept calling the Dolphins lineman (offensive and defensive) “fat sloths.” By the end of the game, everything was Mike Tomlin’s fault because he “took the heart out of the Steelers when he took over.” The the is, Tomlin’s first seven years are almost mirror images of Bill Cowher’s first years, with the only difference being Tomlin went to more Super Bowls and actually won one. These are facts.
  • The NFL is set up for teams to have down years and for good teams to be knocked down and bad teams to be propped up, and the Steelers are having their down years right now. It’s not much fun.
  • Bright side? At least the Steelers didn’t lose the game like this.

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  • Rob D

    Great and entertaining writeup..Adam..There’s nothing like a live game to really get a feel for a team and it’s fans.
    One small quibble..I think it’s a fact that Lewis didn’t want to play for the Steelers after his first contract. He wanted to go back home to Louisiana and play for the Saints. I’ve heard and read this numerous times. Cris Collinsworth repeated it during the Saints/Panthers game on Sunday night. It’s entirely possible we wouldn’t have been able to afford him if he wanted to play in Pittsburgh, but I believe this particular time a player decided he liked warm weather, gumbo, brass bands and alligators over the frozen environs of Heinz Field..
    Going forward, we are in cap hell no matter what is done with Woodley et al. I am optimistic by nature, but I don’t see the Harrison/Aaron Smith/ Hines Ward types coming up for us and many of the highly paid vets are tailing off dramatically (as you said, Troy is one) and that includes Ike (he’s just too old), Woodley (I’m trying not to hate him..I really am..lol) Heath (slow and now he’s an inconsitent catcher of the ball) Pouncey (Injury riddled and VElasco is a better plug in the middle), Sanders (yuk) . I’ve said it before, this is a 3-4 year fix if they start this offseason and make all the right moves.
    I’ll be watching and enjoying it as usual. We are in full rebuild mode now for sure. It’s going to get very messy and I fully expect another single digit win season next year as a result…But it’s the cost of being good in this league for a very long time… Time to pay the piper.Oh..and time to fire Haley since Ben does his job better..

    • Cols714

      I’m telling you, there are no 3-4 year fixes in the NFL. Teams that suck this year can be great next year teams that were great cans suck the next year.

      The only thing that stops you from not having a couple of 8-8 down type years are playing in a horrendous division like the Patriots do. Every other team goes through this.

      I guarantee the Steelers will be back in the playoffs next year, barring a Big Ben injury. History shows this to be true.

      • Canadian Steeler

        I agree with this, but then again I spent the last couple weeks talking myself into the fact that this Steelers team was no different than the team of 2005. Just waiting to hit their stride at exactly the right time!

        I’ll disagree that Velasco is better than Pouncey. He may pick up calls better than Pouncey, but I don’t think he has Pouncey’s anchor strength or mobility to get to blocks at the second level. I’ve reallly like what Bell’s done, but I think some of his 3-4 yard runs go for 8-10 with Maurkice.

        Any chance there’s a SL podcast as a memorial for the 2013 season?

  • tequila0341

    Not sure where the Woodley hate is coming from. He’s actually provided much more pass rush than Worilds, especially early in the season when Worilds was providing nothing. According to PFF, he’s 2nd in the league to Elvis Dumervil in pass rush productivity (hurries/hits/sacks over number of pass rush attempts – Dumervil at 15.9, Woodley and Jerry Hughes of BUF tied at 14.9 – Worilds is 7th, at 11.4).

    So why are Woodley’s totals down? Because of missed time due to injuries and the fact that he drops into coverage far more often than almost any 3-4 OLB in the league. Worilds rushes 78% of pass snaps, Woodley only 66% (compare vs Suggs/Dumervil in BLT, who rush 90% and 84% of the time). .

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    I wrote a FanPost at BTSC called, “In Defense of Continuing to Root for the Steelers to Make the Playoffs:” http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/13/5209438/in-defense-of-continuing-to-root-for-the-steelers-to-make-the-playoffs

    • Randy Steele

      That was an excellent piece, Easy. Congratulations.

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        Thanks, Randy. Neal said he’s going to put it on the BTSC cover this morning.

      • Rob D

        AGreed….Nice work, EAsy..