Even though it wasn’t a blow out, it was certainly one of the uglier games on Sunday Night Football this season. The Steelers squeaked one out against the Chiefs in an emotionally charged game for both sides. The pre-game warmups featured a scuffle between the two teams, and that filtered its way into the game. The Steelers are keeping pace with Baltimore for the lead of the AFC North, but they aren’t making it look easy. Now for the good, the bad and the ugly of last night’s game.
The Good – Defense
The Steelers defense took advantage of an unseasoned Tyler Palko who seemed more interested in throwing it to guys from Pittsburgh and yelling at his own teammates than allowing his team to win the game. Maybe he just missed his days at Pitt and wanted to throw the ball a few times to guys who are from the ‘Burgh. Whatever the case, the Steelers took advantage of the balls that came their way – even Ike Taylor caught the pass that came right at him. The Steelers D had three interceptions, 1 sack and allowed fewer than 175 yards in passing. Granted, the Chiefs receivers didn’t help Palko out – no thanks to Dwayne Bowe – with numerous drops.
The Bad – Sloppiness
Anyone with sense and experience can see that this ‘no practice’ during a large chunk of the bye week hurts teams when they get back on the field against an actual opponent. The offensive line was sloppy with holding defenders (and there were a few no-calls mixed in there), the receivers dropped so passes that hit their hands (and therefore should be caught – ahem Mike Wallace) and the team looked like a week one ‘old and slow’ kind of team. There are some key things in the new CBA that I don’t like, but after watching a few teams play after the bye (and now our own Steelers) I hate this rule. I get the players want to get fully rested and not have to worry about practice or any kind of contact, but it’s obvious – and the stats back it up – that teams are sloppy and stupid after coming back from a bye. We’re stuck with this rule, and I doubt in the next CBA that the owners will be able to have the players agree to pull it out. Oh well, only the fans and a team’s overall chances of getting to the Superbowl are what’s effected. Who cares about that, right?
The Ugly – The Running Game
Mendy once again showed us his ‘happy feet’ and failed to gain 100 yards or more for the ninth time (out of 10 games played) this season. He rushed for 57 yards and no TD’s on 17 carries. He only has a total of 574 yards rushing with a 3.8 average. Not a terrible number, but aside from his 68 yard romp against Jacksonville back in Week 6, he has no explosiveness through and beyond the line. Only twice did he actually lower his head to take a hit – and guess what, he fell forward for more yards. His yards after the first hit are ugly, his technique is ugly and his contributions to the team are ugly. He refuses to churn the legs until he’s on the ground – pathetic. The Steelers are 60% pass and 40% running. We all understand that’s where Tomlin and Arians want to go with this team. Fine, but for Christ’s sake it looks like Mendenhall is getting paid/bribed by Arians to suck. That’s not the kind of back Mendenhall is or was. Not sure what changed from last season to this, but it is simply awful to watch. Sorry, Adam (fellow staff writer), but Mendy’s got to go. Oh yeah and MeMo fumbled the ball that rolled it’s way into the Chiefs endzone for a touchback. Smooth. Can we please put Redman on the field for the majority of snaps for a few weeks? And please please please please Baron Batch get better. You are desperately needed for next season.