The Pittsburgh Steelers tasted their first defeat of the 2009 season with a heartbreaking 17-14 loss to the Chicago Bears.
As is usually the case with the Steelers, this was a loss which didn’t have to be. The Black and Gold had every opportunity to win this game and but for one individual failing twice in crucial situations, their fortunes could have easily been reversed. I won’t belabor who the goat was because he knows who he is and we know who he is. What I will say is every Sheetz in Western Pennsylvania better be on high alert over the next few days.
Still, it would be unfair to pin this loss on just one man, no matter how stupid his hair may be. Skippy Reed may be the obvious scapegoat but this defeat has many contributors. I know I must resist the yinzer urge to push the panic button. However, I’m honestly very disappointed with what I saw yesterday.
The first quarter couldn’t have gone any better. The Steeler D was dominant, limiting the Bears offense to 11 total yards. Ben Roethlisberger showed pinpoint accuracy, driving the team 92 yards in 13 plays over 8 minutes, capped off with a 1 yard TD pass to Matt Spaeth on a 4th down play. Nine of those plays were passes which we should have seen as a big neon warning sign.
Then the second quarter began. The Steelers once again drove deep into enemy territory. However, that came to an abrupt end when Big Ben (23/35 221 yards) underthrew his receiver for an INT. The poor throw was aided by a Bear pass rusher jostling Ben’s elbow while Max Starks flailed at him helplessly. That’s what you like to see from your Franchise player. At this point, the entire tone of the game changed as this one play gave the Bears a spark they desperately needed.
After trading punts, da refs decided Da Bears needed some help. They flagged James Harrison for a personal foul when he was clearly pushed into the quarterback, then flagged Lawrence Timmons for a hold which was so Ticky-Tacky they should name a breath mint after it. Given those two gifts, Chicago QB Jay Cutler expertly led his team down the field by exploiting our secondary, particularly Will.i.am Gay.
Maybe it makes me a homophobe but I hate Gay. He made an idiot of himself at the Super Bowl Victory Parade and he’s always pounding his chest or doing bodybuilder poses whenever he makes a halfway decent play. Yet despite his big shot attitude, he continues to play like three pounds of monkey poop in a two pound bag. He’s always getting turned around, out of position, or playing 10 yards off his receiver. He’s going to be a major liability if the quality of his play doesn’t start to match his opinion of himself.
Again, to be fair, when the Bears finally scored on a 6 yard pass to Kellen Davis, it wasn’t young Will.i.am who was beaten. Nope, the crispy piece of toast on that particular play was Tyrone Carter. Troy’s replacement had a brutal game in every sense. He absolutely blasted a couple guys on hits but he was also picked on more often than a Mathlete in high school. He doesn’t have the skills to cover anybody one-on-one and he misses a lot of tackles.
At halftime, the score was tied 7-7 and the two teams were practically even in every statistical category. The Steelers came out throwing on 7 of their first 9 third quarter plays. Unfortunately, Ben was colder than a virgin’s tit going 0 for 6. He was aided by several sweet drops by Santonio Holmes, who needs to learn if you’re gonna smoke the doobie before a game always try to catch the one in the MIDDLE. At this point, the Steelers had about 30 yards rushing and were chucking the ball almost every play, even though the game was being played on a sloppy field in driving rain.
Then it finally happened. We had a Rashard Mendenhall sighting. Perhaps the fact Rashard is a Chi-Town native had something to do with him playing with fire in his belly and Ben Gay on his balls but he finally looked like a 1st round draft pick. First, he took a busted screen pass, reversed direction all the way across the field, and made a 2 yard loss into a 13 yard gain. Then he blew through a narrow gap for a beautiful 39 yard scamper. Of course, wily mastermind Bruce Arians immediately decided to stick him on the bench for the rest of the game. COACHING GENIUS!
Big Ben dove for the endzone like it was filled with MILFs wearing cowboy hats and the Steelers were up 14-7. On their next possession, the Holmes-Roethlisberger magic suddenly reappeared as they moved deep into Bears territory, aided by some nice hard running from Regular Ass Speed Fast Willie Parker. The offense sputtered inside the Chicago 10, culminating with Ben refusing to part with his precious spicy ranch chulupa football and taking a horrendous ten yard sack. This set the stage for Skippy missing his first FG, a 38 yarder which should’ve been a lot shorter.
Skippy’s impotence not only disappointed a legion of female Steeler fans but re-energized the Fighting Cutlers. Prettyboy Jay machine gunned the ball down the field by massacring Tyrone Carter at every opportunity. My boy, look what they did to my boy! This, this is an insult (and a TD to tie the score) I won’t soon forget.
Still, we had Ben and Ben is money when the game is on the line. With 6 minutes left, the Steelers decided to go no-huddle and throw the ball a billion times. Mind you, at this point Mendenhall had gashed them, FWP was running well, and even Mewelde Moore had a couple nice carries. The Steeler running game amassed 105 yards on 22 carries, an excellent 4.8 average. However, ball control or any sort of successful football strategy is meaningless because it was CHUCK AND DUCK TIME, BABY!
To their credit, the Steelers managed to move the ball, albeit without milking time off the clock or showing an effective red zone offense. This gave Skippy the opportunity to shank a 43 yarder. Hey, we still had our defense, right? They’ll hold and we’ll take our chances in OT.
Great plan, except this time our defensive awesomness backfired. James Harrison allegedly tomahawk chopped the ball out of Matt Forte‘s hands on a 12 yard screen pass, although I think Forte just heard Harrison growl and threw the ball to the turf so he could cover the fact he peed his pants. The ball rolled another 7 yards downfield because the ball was also afraid of what Harrison would do if he got his hands on it. This allowed Gregg Olsen to pounce, turning what should have been a Steeler fumble recovery in a just and fair universe into a 20 something yard gain for the lucky Bears. A couple short gains later and Robbie Gould proved his kicking skills were more powerful than Skippy’s Axe body spray, booting a 44 yarder to give Chicago the 17-14 victory.
Last week, all we talked about was why our running game stunk. This week, all I can wonder is why did we abandon the running game when it was working? Why is our secondary suddenly full of holes? Why does Ben take such terrible sacks? Why did Jay Cutler not get so much as a broken fingernail from our supposedly fearsome pass rushers? We only had 1 sack. ONE SACK!?! What are we, the Cleveland Browns? Yes, the game was close and yes, we had a chance to win but if anybody feels good coming off this performance, you’re far more optimistic than I.
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