The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got off the mat today with their first win of the 2013 regular season!
It’s just a shame that their 19-6 victory over the New York Jets happened after a horrendous 0-4 start. But hey, I will try to keep the complaining at a minimum for today’s wrapup.
Like their previous four games this year, Pittsburgh came out flat during the first quarter and it definitely showed. The offense had two consecutive three-and-outs and the defense had their issues keeping Geno Smith at bay. Thankfully, the defense stiffened inside their own five yard line and only allowed the Jets three points on a first quarter drive in which New York looked primed to put seven on the board.
Pittsburgh’s offense came alive though in the second quarter, which was a huge positive. Unfortunately, poor pass-protection by the offensive line, bone-headed penalties, and poor pocket awareness by Ben Roethlisberger led to three Shaun Suisham field goals instead of what could have easily been 21 points for the Steelers.
Up 9-3 it looked like the Steelers would cruise into half time, but the defense gave up a cake-easy drive (seven plays 51 yards) during which Geno Smith dinked and dunked his way down the field. The big play came when Stephen Hill held on to a pass after he was absolutely throttled by Troy Polamalu to get into field goal range. Credit must go to both players for their efforts on that particular play.
I figured that Smith and New York’s offensive staff would have realized that this was a strategy they could use to beat Pittsburgh’s defense in the second half.
The Steelers’ defense however “nutted up” with their first second half lead of the regular season, while their offense took full advantage of the first three-and-out of the second half.
Ben Roethlisberger connected on a bomb of 55 yards to Emmanuel Sanders who did a hot-dog front-flip into the end zone which put Pittsburgh ahead 16-6. The Jets’ offense however did not appear to be rattled, and they drove right down the field with ease until Smith made the first of his two big second half mistakes when he was picked off at the goal line by Ryan Clark for Pittsburgh’s first takeaway of the regular season.
The Steelers’ could have sealed the game two possessions later, but their red zone woes and a big holding penalty on Kelvin Beachum limited them to a field goal and their lead was extended to 19-6.
Kudos must go to Shaun Suisham for his efforts today, especially since he scored 13 of the team’s 16 points and looked calm and collected out on that field today. Through five games, Suisham is this team’s MVP in my opinion.
New York tried to mount one final comeback inside of four minutes, but Smith was picked off at the goal line by Lawrence Timmons. While the first throw was definitely Smith’s fault from a decision-making standpoint, he definitely was pressured into throwing a wounded duck on a terrific play by the blitzing Jarvis Jones.
Both Jones and Vince Williams looked much improved this afternoon, and there definitely appears to be light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to those two rookies.
As excited as I am about Pittsburgh’s victory, they were far from perfect today.
The offensive line looked absolutely awful at times when it came to pass-protection, and the penalties really took their toll when it came to taking points off of the scoreboard for the Steelers. The red-zone play-calling was also an unmitigated disaster, and this team will not eek out many wins if they have to rely on Suisham being a significant part of the offense.
While the defense stepped up, especially against the run, I am still concerned with veteran quarterbacks dinking and dunking their offenses down the field against them. Smith found plenty of success, and I am worried what will happen when opposing game-plans are centered around exploiting Pittsburgh’s secondary in that particular fashion.
Regardless of their issues, the Steelers finally posted a tally in the “Win” column and I must tip my hat to them for their most recent victory.
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