Where it went wrong – End of 3rd Qtr / Top of the 4th , Losing 31-13

It could have been 31-20 with almost a full 14 minutes of play left.  Something for the defense to rally around (not that they didn’t get us into the hole in the first place), something to build on, something to keep the team within two touchdowns.

I am not going claim to know the names of every play in the book. Or even a quarter of the book. Or even know where they keep the book in the library.

What I do know is that the shortest distance between two points IS A STRAIGHT FUCKING LINE ESPECIALLY WHEN NAJEH DAVENPORT JUST MADE A BIG 3 AND 1 JUST THREE PLAYS BEFORE, CONVERTED ON 4 FOURTH AND ONE EARLIER IN THE GAME, AND WHEN YOUR QUARTERBACK ALSO WAS GOOD FOR A ONE YARD SNEAK IN THE FIRST QUARTER.

So what happened?  (All X’s and O’s are approximate.  However, I did count to eleven for each side on each play.) 

Steelers are on the one yard line after a 2nd and goal shove pass to Hines Ward fell just short of a touchdown. Davenport in the back field, Santonio Holmes – just back from missing the last few weeks with a high-ankle sprain – lines up wide left against dirty-dirt-dirty Rodney Harrison.

Ben fakes to Davenport and throws to Holmes in a play that did not stand a chance against Rodney Harrison. A play that was so painfully slow, so excruciating, so horrifically called, I could feel Gregg Easterbrook close his notebook all the way in Virginia/DC/Maryland/wherever the majority of sports douchebags like Easterbrook/Kornheiser/Gay Mafia DC Blog Mafia those guys who never have us on the Blog Show all live.

What might have worked instead -

How about instead of faking to Davenport, just giving the ball to Davenport? I might have mentioned this earlier, BUT DAVENPORT IS A SHORT YARDAGE SPECIALIST.

Fuck.

Or -

Or Ben just runs it in.

My heart hurt, but I knew we could just jam it up the middle on fourth down. The Steelers could be counted on a smart running play on fourth down.

Fourth and one. Ward left. Fake that you want to throw up to him that way again, I don’t care, JUST RUN THE BALL UP THE MIDDLE AND DON’T BE STUPID.

What happened -

Ward runs down, takes the hand-off from Ben, runs right, and then proceeds to run into every other Steeler on the field and thus falling short of the goal line.

What might have worked -

Ok, I am not sure what I was trying to design here, but mostly IT WAS JUST RUNNING THE BALL STRAIGHT UP THE MIDDLE. OR MAYBE JUST STRAIGHT-ISH. JUST NOTHING TO CRAZY.
Heartbreak.

I didn’t expect the Steelers to win that game. I had hoped, but I did not expect. And through the first half, the team was right there, holding on 14-13. It felt good. My nerves about this game had settled down.

(Quick aside – Being able to watch this game was an iffy probability all weekend, as Starterboyfriend and I spent a long weekend at the beach house with all of his immediate and extended family. We watched dolphins riding the storm waves. We saw a seal hunting fish. I collected eight sand dollars. I had pushed the burden of having grandkids onto one of the other young couples in the house. I ate lasagna made with elk meat and sausage – informed about after the fact, of course, but suspected while consuming – and did not care. All TSB and I wanted was to be able to slip away and watch the game in peace, and without any nagging.)

And then? Well, even how the game became 31-13 really is a blur in my mind. Blown coverage. A weird Brady-to-Moss-BUT HE FUCKING DROPPED THE BALL AND I DON’T QUITE UNDERSTAND THAT FUMBLE NOT BEING A DEAD BALL, BUT MAYBE EVERYONE ELSE IS SMARTER THAN I AM OR WHATEVER I FIND IT SUSPICIOUS THAT THEY DIDN’T REPLAY THAT PLAY THE REST OF THE GAME – back-to-Brady for the throw down to end zone.

For some reason though, I think we could have come back. I know the Steelers could have come back if they had scored there.

Ok. Rest of the season to worry about. Get back a healthy Polamalu . Playoffs to worry about. Go in with momentum.

Lose now, beat them in the playoffs.

Lose now, beat them in the playoffs.

Lose now, beat them in the playoffs.

I feel better now.

24 thoughts on “Where it went wrong – End of 3rd Qtr / Top of the 4th , Losing 31-13

  1. The lateral to Moss was clearly backwards. Hence, the call on the field was correct.

    Here’s some bourbon sent telepathically.

    (Drinks 15 year old Pappy Van Winkle, transmits fractured brain waves)

    Ahhhh.

  2. It is not about it being backwards. I know how a lateral works. WHAT I DON’T UNDERSTAND IS HOW THE BALL HITS THE GROUND AND HOW MOSS WAS ABLE TO PICK IT BACK UP AND THEN THROW IT BACK AGAIN.

    Ok. Yes. You can do that. But I think it is dumb.

    I want a new rule. Tom Brady gets all sorts of new rules for him, so this should be a new anti-Brady rule.

  3. Why don’t you just prevent the Patriots from doing that?

    It’s like Illinois preventing my grade school from winning the science fair because we kicked every other school’s ass. It’s not our fault that we have to cite 10 sources for our papers, which is 7 more than required by the state. Let’s have every school win! Let’s have the Steelers win a game against the Patriots! Let’s not keep score anymore!

  4. A Masshole wood spel liek ths ‘n mayk shoutouts to SULLY and FITZY!!!!!!!

    Catharsis? The Blackhawks just lost to the Calgary Flames. THE CALGARY FUCKING FLAMES. Patrick Kane is pulling a Bernard Berrian and losing the goddamn puck every time he touches it. I belong in a fucking Edvard Munch painting.

  5. TSW,

    Okay, I didn’t see the play, but did Ward go into motion before the ball was snapped? If it was motion before the snap (Jet motion), they were probably going to fake to Ward and give to Davenport, but the CB didn’t follow Ward, so they gave to him. I’m guessing it was probably a run/pass option for Ward, but the Pats defense stopped him.

    Personally, in short yardage goal line situations, I’m a big fan of play-action passes to your TEs.

    I like the diagrams, though.

    On the first diagram, you need to put LBs in there somewhere (I know it is an approximation). If the Pats d-front was actually lined up like that, then Pittsburgh is dumb for not running a simple inside trap.

  6. I think this is just another lesson about how one should not give the Patriots anything extra to motivate them. They have shown that they can be vulnerable, but let us take a mental journey back to the game immediately following Camera-gate. They DESTROYED people. Ate their souls. Why? Because they had something to prove. Idiot unknown Steeler guarantees a win, so what happens? They lose, of course. Lessons to be learned here people!

  7. Guarantees are lame. Especially when made by a nobody (or a somebody promising to beat Notre Dame). Precious few sports guarantees resonate through history.

  8. Beergut – Agreed, especially since Ben tends to love to throw to Heath Miller. (And the Corner followed Ward if I remember correctly in the second play.)

    The first diagram’s Defense is wildly inaccurate. I really should look into one of those pads and pens for illustration, as it is really hard to draw on my laptop’s touchpad with my fingertip.

    Christina – Sure Smith was the one burned on most the big plays, but thinking the Pats were not going to be well-prepared after two-near losses is also folly. I wasn’t a fan of much of the play calling from the offensive coordinator, and withstill Troy out, the defense needed to step up that much more. That Pats did an excellent job of neutralizing Harrison really hurt the team.

  9. I didn’t watch most of the game, as I was out with my girlfriend and her family. I saw the flea flicker play, and that was all I needed to see. After drinking some wine at dinner, I didn’t care about the outcome.

    So I missed the goal-line stand by the Patriots but your recap reminds me of the 1994 AFC championship game. The Steelers had 4 chances to get 5 yards or something for a TD to take the lead late in the game, and we had 3 (count ‘em! – 3!) killer RBs in the backfield. What do we call? O’Donnell passes incomplete 3 or 4 times (I forget) and the Chargers hold on for the win.

    My point is that the Steelers have a habit of going AWAY from their running game strength at the goal line, and it doesn’t make a bit of sense to me.

  10. This probably doesn’t mean much, especially coming from me, but sorry about the game TSW. I really was rooting for the Steelers. And after the first half I thought they could have won that game.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again, if Brady has a good game but the Pats lose then I’m happy.

  11. TSW can attest to this, but when the Steelers start to blow it, I get a little “worked up”. (Meaning: I throw things, bang on the table and general act the emotional fool.) Yesterday I could hardly rise to the occassion. It was frustrating to watch play-calling that looked like we borrowed from the ’06 Browns.

    Also, I’m endeavoring to get TSW an “official” NFL chalkboard so she can design the CORRECT plays for goal line stands. She should do a better job than Bruce Arians.

    And one more thing that I’m just reading: At the end of the game, around the time the “GUARANTEE!” chant began, apparently the folk at Gillette Stadium showed Anthony Smith’s picture on the Jumbo-Tron. Um. Really? I suppose there’s nothing in league rules that bar a team from insighting their crowds to riot, but hell. Where’s a rule on good taste and being good sports?

  12. So this is something I want to get out of the way that I’ve started posting here and elsewhere as a Boston fan.

    I was born and raised in Massachusetts. I have all the sports-related brain problems that come with that background.

    And I’m a Pats fan–lifelong–and I want to state for the record how horrified I was by the cheating. I hope you can understand that I still take pride in my team and their tremendous season.

    There are those of us who do not condone cheating and who genuinely just want to enjoy victory and to do so are giving the players the benefit of the doubt. I mean… this feels good. It really does.

    I know that the rest of the teams DO NOT suck, and the Pats are NOT bestowed with superhuman abilities. Perfect records do not indicate perfection all-around. My rooting for the Pats is not an indication of how I feel about your team, the history of football, God, or ethics.

    (I think this was prompted by somewhat rabid backlash at my office from people refusing to talk about football with me solely because I’m a Pats fan, which HURT my FEELINGS.)

    So I want to offer all you Steelers/rest of the NHL fans an e-handshake right here and now.

    Can we be friends again?

  13. And it didn’t help that the Steelers went naked in their backfield on fourth down. That limited their options to sell the Pats’ defense on.
    Could be worse, TSFamily. You could be a Panthers fan and wonder if it’s going to be the 44-year-old or the outcasted sorry-ass former No. 1 pick lining up under center.

  14. @margaret: Thank you for the outreach. I appreciate it. Listen, I can abdicate to fans of other teams who beat ours fair-and-square. (Just ask TSW about our experience at Phoenix Stadium in AZ when the Cardinals slapped us around. While some fans were rude and indignant, others were nice and we all had a good laugh and wished each other well at the end.) Aside of that, the thing that bothers me with SOME (some) Patriots fans has been the arrogance. Be it bred from the BoSox Nation insanity, or just from a sense of, “Us Against Thems That Don’t Believes Us!” attitude. It’s rare to find someone being genuinely non-band-wagon-ish who can speak with a general passion and love for all-things football, rather than regurgitating Phil Simms’ or Peter King’s platitudes from the week. Thank you. I extend my e-hand to your e-handshake and grip firmly, but friendly.

    @coffee table: I am sorry. Truly. I will sand and varnish you. (This is nothing sexual.)

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