Something To Remember Next Time – By Robert Rousseau
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|This past Sunday’s loss to the Bengals was an extremely hard one to stomach for Steelers fans, and not just because it was against the division rival Bengals (home of the mouth named Chad Johnson). No, this one was hard to take because the Steelers outplayed the Bungles in many ways.
With the exception of turnovers.
Besides that, nearly everything went right. For instance, take a look at the usually highly important factors game factors below. Then forget them, because they’re not what the team should remember when they meet up with Cincy next time.
Pittsburgh’s offensive line blew them up in the running game. Consider the following statements made by Phil Simms: “When you watch the game, the Bengals defensive linemen can’t get away from them (the Steelers offensive line) once they’re hit. That’s why they’re getting some good runs from the running backs.”
That says a lot.
The Steelers won the battle of pressure. The Steelers’ defense was all over Carson Palmer. We’re talking six sacks here. The Bengals only managed three, and for the most part, Ben Roethlisberger had oodles of time to look for open receivers.
Bengals RB Rudi Johnson couldn’t run the ball. Not all that unusual. Still, Rudi Johnson only nabbed 47 yards on the ground, and the Bengals as a whole didn’t even reach the 100 yard mark.
“Fast” Willie Parker ran for 133 yards thanks in part to the offensive line, as well as something beyond his talent, of course (see below). Usually when he has a day like this it spells V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.
Still, the Steelers lost the game because they made a ton of mental mistakes, including three interceptions, two lost fumbles, and a costly penalty in the 4th quarter. Turnovers kill, and everyone knows it. So it should’ve been a great day, but wasn’t. Knowledge of this isn’t going to help the team, though, as even the novice fan could tell you that. Here’s what might help, though.
The Bengals’ linebackers are young and athletic. The keyword — young. Their starting strongside linebacker, Rashad Jeanty, is a rookie and weakside backer Landon Johnson is only in his 3rd year. Yes, David Pollack, a very bright and opportunistic player was out with an injury, and Odell Thurman was serving Game 2 of a 4-game suspension. He celebrated after the game by picking up a DWI, and was suspended for the season by the league Sept. 27.
Still, the Bengals’ linebackers over-pursued on nearly every play. Even veteran LB Brian Simmons was guilty of this.
Perhaps it was Willie Parker’s speed that made it so obvious; maybe it had a lot to do with Pittsburgh’s tenacious blocking. Regardless, I counted at least these five examples of their over-pursuit:
1. The Steelers pull a reverse with Cedric Wilson on a 1st and 10 play at 9:52 of the 1st quarter. Wilson cuts back to the weak side left vacant by the over-pursuing Bengals.
2. At 4:26 of the 1st quarter, the Bengals’ linebackers flow to their right and Parker cuts back, gaining 5 yards thanks to their over eagerness.
3. The Steelers pull a draw on their first play of the 3rd quarter. Cincinnati’s blitzing backers run right by Parker and he sprints 11 yards for a 1st down.
4. At 6:26 of the 3rd quarter, the Steelers go for it on 4th and goal at the Cincinnati 1-yard line. Both of their linebackers overrun the play and get caught up behind blockers as Parker cuts it up and scores once again.
It all became so obvious that Phil Simms said the following. “There’s a trend, and that trend is cut-back running. Don’t let your eyes take you out of position. That’s what the Bengals are doing; they’re chasing the car. You can’t chase the car, you gotta wait for the car to come to you.”
The Steelers outplayed the Bengals and lost because of mental mistakes. However, there sure is hope that they can go to Cincinnati and whip them. All they have to do is stop giving the Bengals the ball and tell Willie to “cut it upfield.”