Penny for your thoughts Mike. Image courtesy steelers.com

Steelers MMQB: NFL Wild Card Weekend Wrap Up


This one is going to hurt for a while. Image courtesy foxsports.com

What We Learned In Wild Card Weekend:

  • The Bungles are still the Bungles and still can’t win a playoff game
  • Drew Brees is ridiculous
  • The Giants defense suffocates Atlanta
  • The Steelers allowed themselves to be Tebow’d

Well this is a tough one to write.  I’ve said many times before that I have a tendency to throw toddler-like temper tantrums when my Steelers lose.  Last night was no exception.  In fact it was probably worse.  I can’t even remember being this mad last year after the Super Bowl.  Nevertheless there was still playoff games played that need to be reviewed, so I must put on my big girl pants and get to work.

The Bungles traveled to Houston on Saturday afternoon for their Wild Card matchup where many picked them to win considering Houston entered the playoffs on a 3-game skid.  Houston showed why they were the #2 ranked defense by sacking Andy Dalton 4 times and intercepting him 3 times with one returned for a pick-6.  Everybody questioned the effectiveness of TJ Yates at quarterback for the Texans while it seemed underestimating the effectiveness of Arian Foster and the Texans defense.  Foster ran for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns while the Texans defense kept the Bungles playoff win drought alive.  If anyone is keeping score the last time the Bungles won a playoff game was in 1990 when they beat the Houston Oilers.  Weird right?

Woodley scoops up a McGahee fumble caused by Ryan Mundy. Image courtesy foxsports.com

The Bungles most likely won’t go away quietly, though.  With the king’s ransom in draft picks they got for Carson Palmer, they can potentially beef up with a lot more talent.  Either that or they’ll go back to their old ways and draft a bunch of guys that already have wrap sheets.  Something tells me though; the Bungles will still have to come up with some Buy 1 Get 1 promotions to get butts in the seats next season too.

The Texans will travel to Baltimore to take on the #3 ranked defense in the Divisional Round.  Surprisingly, the Ratbirds are 1-3 in the playoffs when meeting a higher ranked defensive opponent.  I’d bet the Ratbirds are already looking past the Texans, with their “Ball So Hard University” smack talk.  If the Texans can disrupt Flacco like they did with Dalton, the Ratbirds are in some trouble.  Don’t sleep on these Texans, no matter how they coasted into the playoffs, they matched their first playoff appearance with a first playoff victory and I don’t think they’ll go down easily.

What is there to say about Drew Brees and that Saints offense that hasn’t already been said?  It’s ridiculous.  Thanks to the enhanced rules regarding hits on the quarterback and covering WR’s, the Saints offense has broken all kinds of records this year.  After destroying Dan Marino’s single season passing record, the Saints posted record-setting offensive numbers against the Lions on Saturday night.  The combination of Drew Brees passing for like 1,000 yards a game and tiny Darren Sproles running all over the field without even being noticed has this team poised to turn their last season’s disappointing loss to Seattle in the first round into a definite run for the Super Bowl.  They will travel to San Francisco to take on the 49er’s where many have questioned Brees’ abilities in inclement weather.  Yeah right, the guy throws for ridiculous numbers all over the place but a little wind is going to take him down.  I don’t think so.

Matty Ice and the Falcons took on the Giants in New York searching for his first ever playoff victory.  He leaves New York still looking for it.  The Giants completely stopped everything Matty and the Falcons offense tried to do on Sunday. Mike Smith in his infinite wisdom on handling 4th and shorts called a quarterback sneak twice and failed twice.  Ever heard of using your running back, Mike?  The Falcons reached the redzone just once on Sunday and the only points scored was a safety that was a result of an intentional grounding by Eli in the endzone.  That’s it. Eli and Big Blue will take on the Packers at Lambeau field.  If the Giants can play the same suffocating defense against the Packers, it should be an easy day for Eli.  If not, we’re going to see a whole lot of Eli’s “aw shucks” face.

The inevitable time has come to review the Steelers heartbreaking, infuriating, disappointing, shocking, baffling, and all around bad loss to the Denver Tebows.  What can I say?  I could still spit nails about this game.  The first quarter ended with the Steelers dominating in almost every category, only failing to reach the endzone and settling for field goals.  Then came the second quarter.  The Steelers gave up a record 20 points in the second quarter, the most the Steelers defense has allowed in 1 quarter in the playoffs since 1970.  Tebow had throws of 20, 30, 50 yards to wide open receivers in the middle of the field. Before you knew it the score was 20-6 and I could feel the vomit coming up.

If the injury bug hadn’t bitten the Steelers enough throughout this year, he struck again as both Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton went down before the second half. Keisel with a groin injury and Hampton with a knee.  Ben appeared to have reinjured his ankle on a play were Max Starks was blocked right into Ben’s ankle, but hobbling around Ben stayed on the field.  No doubt Tomlin’s handling of the injuries this season will be the biggest criticism he will have to deal with for the offseason.

Hobbling or not, Ben battled back and brought the Steelers to a tie game at 23-23 with the ball and just over a minute left on the clock.  The Steelers were unable to get within range of a field goal to end the game, sending it into overtime and testing everyone’s knowledge of the modified overtime rules for the playoffs.  Unfortunately, that knowledge ended up being wasted.  The Broncos got the ball and on the very first play of overtime Tebow dropped back and fired to Demaryius Thomas, who stiff armed Ike Taylor and beat both Taylor and Mundy to the endzone ending the game and the Steelers season before anyone knew what had happened.  Tebow passed for 10-21, 316 yards and was not sacked or intercepted at all.  Tebow also ran the ball 10 times for 50 yards.

The defense never seemed to adjust themselves for the wide open passes Tebow was connecting on for gains of 20+ yards.  That still baffles me.  Why they never seemed to play man coverage is going to bother me for a while. Unfortunately, Ike Taylor will find himself in a similar position that Mendenhall was in last season.  Mendenhall, who hadn’t fumbled the entire regular season, put the ball on the ground in the Super Bowl on what could have been the game-winning drive for the Steelers.  Now Taylor, who has had his best statistical season of his career, even caught 2 interceptions, will be known for the one who got beat on the last play allowing Thomas to score and the Tebow-Mania to continue.  I won’t be one of them calling for Taylor’s head, I can recognize that he had a great season and his performance was one of the reasons the Steelers had the #1 defense in the league.  He just happened to have his worst game of the year at the worst possible time.  I think the themes of the season for the Steelers is going to be the injuries and the lack of road victories.  There were just too many to overcome.  We were fooling ourselves into thinking that a limping quarterback, a makeshift offensive line, a bruised and beat-up defense could have won 3 playoff road games to reach the Super Bowl.

I’m estimating about 207 days or so till the opening of Steelers Training Camp in Latrobe.  Plenty of time to debate about draft picks, free agents, which veterans will stay or leave, and what exactly went wrong with the 2011 season.  I still can’t believe it ended the way it did, but the best part is that Steelers season never truly ends as long as we can rant about it.  Bring on the offseason!

Follow me on Twitter @Kimmy_KimKimM

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  • JennMT

    Way to go Kimmy! The season is always better with you writing about it, wouldn’t you agree cowhercbs ?

  • JennMT

    Way to go Kimmy! The season is always better with you writing about it, wouldn’t you agree cowhercbs ?

  • ToddWilliams

    Good post, Kimmy. I was livid most of the game as well. The list of things that made me most angry. My whine list is as follows:

    1. Not getting any pressure on Tebow. He had all day to make decisions on third down.

    2. Once again, huge cushions on the receivers on third down. Denver played tight man-to-man most of the game, and really made us work for completions. They looked like us against the Patriots. Um, why didn’t we try something different when the zone plus a four-man rush wasn’t working? In hindsight, I wish we had blitzed a lot more.

    3. Harrison got held bigtime IMO on that wounded duck bomb that floated halfway down the field for a completion at the beginning of the second quarter. No way Tebow would have gotten that ball off if Harrison hadn’t been held. And how that ball isn’t defended by Taylor is beyond me.

    4. What the hell was the reversal on the Mike Wallace (I believe) completion all about?…the ball touched a blade of grass as he went to the ground? It looked to me like he had full control of the ball all the way through…I didn’t even watch the replay because I was so sure it was a completion, so I might be wrong.

    5. The roughing the passer call on Harrison after he bumps Tebow after one step? Really? Yet Ben is getting plowed after one step the whole game.

    6. Mundy and Taylor blowing the coverage in OT. I just watched that with my jaw open in disbelief.

    7. The Legursky snap that cost us a possible field goal chance to win the game.

    8. The O-line lack of protection caused Ben to rush the pass to Heath Miller that was picked. It was a perfect pass, but Heath hadn’t gotten his head back in his route yet. Of course, that ultimately is on Ben…but geez, give the guy time to pass!

    9. Clay was atrocious…the guy couldn’t catch the ball, and he couldn’t run the ball. Blew his chance to shine.

    10. Kapinos, what’s with the 35-yard punts? I miss Sepulveda. (continued)

  • ToddWilliams

    Nothing seemed to be going right, but we were still able to rally at the end, so that eased my rage a tad. Here are the good things I take from the game:

    1. Redman was impressive. Looking forward to potentially having a better running game next year.

    2. Ben moved really well, and with only a couple exceptions he had great accuracy and played like an elite quarterback.

    3. Our offense played pretty well despite having half our team in gurneys on the sideline.

    4. Sanders played great. I’m so impressed with our receiving corps. If we could just get better protection, we could blow teams off the field with our passing game.

    Kudos to the Tebows for playing well, though. They better not lay an egg up in Foxborough after playing like they did against us. I genuinely like Tebow, and like any good Pittsburgh fan, I can’t stand the Patriots. Geez, if the Pats or the Ratbirds play Green Bay, I have no idea who I’ll root for. I’m just hoping the Saints get there at this point.

  • Kimmy

    @ToddWilliamsThanks for the comments Todd! I totally agree with you on yor “whine list” :). I don’ understand why we couldn’t pressure Tebow more or at least cover their receivers better after he connected on those first few deep passes. Seems like all the defense was set up to do was stop the run and I get that you want to force Tebow to throw it but come’on, when he’s connecting on passes it’s time to alter the scheme a bit. Taylor completely blew it on that covereage and tackle, just blew it. He took full responsibility after the game though, which is good. I’m not sure if I can bring myself to root for anybody, I’ll probably just watch the games and criticize every team from here on out LOL.

  • ToddWilliams

    Good post, Kimmy. I was livid most of the game as well. The list of things that made me most angry. My whine list is as follows:

    1. Not getting any pressure on Tebow. He had all day to make decisions on third down.

    2. Once again, huge cushions on the receivers on third down. Denver played tight man-to-man most of the game, and really made us work for completions. They looked like us against the Patriots. Um, why didn’t we try something different when the zone plus a four-man rush wasn’t working? In hindsight, I wish we had blitzed a lot more.

    3. Harrison got held bigtime IMO on that wounded duck bomb that floated halfway down the field for a completion at the beginning of the second quarter. No way Tebow would have gotten that ball off if Harrison hadn’t been held. And how that ball isn’t defended by Taylor is beyond me.

    4. What the hell was the reversal on the Mike Wallace (I believe) completion all about?…the ball touched a blade of grass as he went to the ground? It looked to me like he had full control of the ball all the way through…I didn’t even watch the replay because I was so sure it was a completion, so I might be wrong.

    5. The roughing the passer call on Harrison after he bumps Tebow after one step? Really? Yet Ben is getting plowed after one step the whole game.

    6. Mundy and Taylor blowing the coverage in OT. I just watched that with my jaw open in disbelief.

    7. The Legursky snap that cost us a possible field goal chance to win the game.

    8. The O-line lack of protection caused Ben to rush the pass to Heath Miller that was picked. It was a perfect pass, but Heath hadn’t gotten his head back in his route yet. Of course, that ultimately is on Ben…but geez, give the guy time to pass!

    9. Clay was atrocious…the guy couldn’t catch the ball, and he couldn’t run the ball. Blew his chance to shine.

    10. Kapinos, what’s with the 35-yard punts? I miss Sepulveda. (continued)

  • ToddWilliams

    Nothing seemed to be going right, but we were still able to rally at the end, so that eased my rage a tad. Here are the good things I take from the game:

    1. Redman was impressive. Looking forward to potentially having a better running game next year.

    2. Ben moved really well, and with only a couple exceptions he had great accuracy and played like an elite quarterback.

    3. Our offense played pretty well despite having half our team in gurneys on the sideline.

    4. Sanders played great. I’m so impressed with our receiving corps. If we could just get better protection, we could blow teams off the field with our passing game.

    Kudos to the Tebows for playing well, though. They better not lay an egg up in Foxborough after playing like they did against us. I genuinely like Tebow, and like any good Pittsburgh fan, I can’t stand the Patriots. Geez, if the Pats or the Ratbirds play Green Bay, I have no idea who I’ll root for. I’m just hoping the Saints get there at this point.

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  • Kimmy

    @ToddWilliamsThanks for the comments Todd! I totally agree with you on yor “whine list” :). I don’ understand why we couldn’t pressure Tebow more or at least cover their receivers better after he connected on those first few deep passes. Seems like all the defense was set up to do was stop the run and I get that you want to force Tebow to throw it but come’on, when he’s connecting on passes it’s time to alter the scheme a bit. Taylor completely blew it on that covereage and tackle, just blew it. He took full responsibility after the game though, which is good. I’m not sure if I can bring myself to root for anybody, I’ll probably just watch the games and criticize every team from here on out LOL.

  • Sweat

    this is e first time I have read your blog. Your writing is very good, entertaining and knowledgable. What I don’t understand is why no one is talking about failing to play for the win in the 4th quarter by going for the PAT rather than the two point conversion! Not a word in the blogosphere! Also, why not try the long field goal with time running out? Sure it would have been crazy-long but it is mile high and balls sail there all the time. What do you have to lose?

  • Sweat

    this is e first time I have read your blog. Your writing is very good, entertaining and knowledgable. What I don’t understand is why no one is talking about failing to play for the win in the 4th quarter by going for the PAT rather than the two point conversion! Not a word in the blogosphere! Also, why not try the long field goal with time running out? Sure it would have been crazy-long but it is mile high and balls sail there all the time. What do you have to lose?

  • Kimmy

    @Sweat Thank you for reading! I don’t think going for 2 at that point was an option, obviously because we had more than enough time on the clock to get the ball back and score again. That last Steelers drive was all missed opportunities. I’d say we were about 10 yards or so out of Suisham’s range, and even then Tomlin has shown all season that he didn’t have a whole lot of faith in his kicker this year. If they could have gotten just a little bit closer with enough time left I’m sure they would have kicked it but that just didn’t happen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new kickers on the roster for training camp this year.

  • Kimmy

    @Sweat Thank you for reading! I don’t think going for 2 at that point was an option, obviously because we had more than enough time on the clock to get the ball back and score again. That last Steelers drive was all missed opportunities. I’d say we were about 10 yards or so out of Suisham’s range, and even then Tomlin has shown all season that he didn’t have a whole lot of faith in his kicker this year. If they could have gotten just a little bit closer with enough time left I’m sure they would have kicked it but that just didn’t happen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new kickers on the roster for training camp this year.

  • Sweat

    Right on. I see your points. As a Pats fan I can tell you that we didn’t want to see you, banged up or not. Ben has a way of getting mobile in Foxboro. With the “defense” we have this year (and use the term in spirit only) he would have shredded us. I am going to continue to read your stuff – thanks for the great work.

  • Sweat

    Right on. I see your points. As a Pats fan I can tell you that we didn’t want to see you, banged up or not. Ben has a way of getting mobile in Foxboro. With the “defense” we have this year (and use the term in spirit only) he would have shredded us. I am going to continue to read your stuff – thanks for the great work.