Pittsburgh Steelers Defeat Green Bay Packers: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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The Bad

Clock Management (AGAIN!) – This is a theme that I don’t like very much.  Once again, Tomlin and Co. must be called out for their poor clock management during the game.  The first offense occurred late in the first half.  The Steelers were moving the ball very well after E. Sanders’ 46 yard kick return.  They looked poised to answer the Pack’s score with one of their own.  The Steelers took timeout #2 with :40 on the clock after Jerricho Cotchery went for nine yards and one yard short of the first down.  The next play out of the timeout was a ten yard run up the middle by Bell for a first down at the Packers 13 yard line.  Instead of spiking the ball with a fresh set of downs or even calling a timeout, the call was to keep the clock running and continue to throw dump passes.  Ben threw an incomplete pass to Cotchery and burned :17 seconds off the clock by the time the ball was placed, snapped and incomplete.  It was infuriating.  Now with only :16 seconds left on the clock, the play selection became limited, and the Steelers eventually settled for a field goal.

Dec 22, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin reacts during the game against the Green Bay Packers in the 4th quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The second offense came at the end of the game when the Steelers were knocking on the door of the endzone with 1:25 left in the game. The Steelers were awarded a fresh set of downs because of a neutral zone infraction by the Packers during a field goal attempt with 1:36 left to play.  From the five yard line, the Steelers ran Bell and started the clock.  The Packers used their last timeout with 1:28 left on the clock.  Instead of taking a knee to get the clock going again, Tomlin decided to put Ben in the shotgun (the friggin shotgun!!!!) and ran Bell on a draw up the middle.  He scored, but the Packers had 1:25 to try and score.  Tomlin defended his decision by saying he didn’t want to risk a botched snap by his veteran and dependable long snapper Greg Warren.  Uhhh excuse me?  So instead, you put Ben in shotgun (also known as a long snap situation) and then hand off to Bell who fumbled once already at the goal line going the other way.  How is that better than taking a knee then kicking the game winning field goal?  Our friend Dom gives props to Tomlin for sticking to his guns on making that decision, but I think it smells worse than my kids dirty diapers…. after he’s had Thai food.  How could you not take a knee and kick a field goal with one of the best kickers in the game?  It’s baffling, and I can only chalk that up as another one of Tomlin’s piss poor game management choices.

2nd Half Turnovers – The Steelers came out of the locker room with an impressive drive that lead to a touchdown and the lead.  The defense held off the Packers long enough to force a punt, but they were pinned in their own end.  LeVeon Bell fumbled at the 2 yard line, and the Packers recovered.  Actually the Packers put the ball in the end zone, but the refs only awarded the Packers possession after McCarthy’s challenge.  The Pack scored with a Lacy TD and took the lead and momentum again.

Just when the gettin’ was good after the Steelers went up by 10 points late after an offensive score immediately follwed a Cortez Allen Pick 6, Roethlisberger turns the ball over with an interception to AJ Hawk.  Am I the only one to say that just as that series started, I was thinking to myself, “Something doesn’t feel right.  I bet you something ‘bad’ happens here”?  Boom.  Interception.  Luckily for the Steelers, they were able to overcome both of these turnovers.  But, that kind of stuff can be huge game changers if you let it.

Honorable mention: Tackling at the second level.  P-U.

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  • Carl Eagan

    Just rewatched a couple of plays from yesterdays game. Green Bay didn’t put the ball into the end zone as the linebackers knee was down before he reached out. However there was no indisputable evidence to prove Bell fumbled before his knee was down. Also Not only did Clark have possession of the ball he was also down before he lateraled to Gay. His knee was down and he was clearly touched by a packer.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Too bad that Clark play wasn’t reviewable. He was a moron for even attempting to pitch it.

      • John

        The key to this call was not the illegal batting, but the rule of possession. The official ruled that the Steelers never had possession of the ball. The NFL Rule Book states that possession is gained by the defense when a field-goal is missed. Therefore, the Steelers gained possession of the ball when the field-goal was blocked. At that point during the play the Steelers are now the offensive team and the Packers are now the defensive team. It is up to the Packers to regain possession, NOT the Steelers. The illegal batting was a penalty, and should of resulted in a 10 yard penalty, or half the distance to the goal line, and a first down for the Offensive Team, which is now the Steelers.

        • Craig

          Am I wrong in interpreting the rules that possession does not change until the ball crosses the line of scrimmage and is touched by the other team? That’s why the officials don’t throw the blue marker until it is touched on a punt or kick return. Same thing happened on the blocked field goal. The kick alone wasn’t enough to change possession – but when Clark touched it and possessed the ball, the official on the sideline threw a blue marker. At any rate, John you are right about the illegal batting part. The ball WAS the Steelers and they should have maintained possession no matter what the penalty was post Clark touch.

          • Dom DiTolla

            The play, meaning Clark’s possession, not reviewable though and that was the way the cookie crumbled. Did the refs botch the call? Absolutely. But Clark was a moron for not eating it. Why would he pitch it near the sideline if he is on his knees in the first place? Where did he think Gay or anyone else was going to go if they were corralled to the sidelines? Gotta play it safe & smart there and let the O back on the field.