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From the nosebleed seats – Take on the game from a fan who was there

The following was submitted by one of SA’s members, Three Four, and his experience at the Steelers vs Broncos Wildcard Game.

The Steelers put up a valiant performance despite injuries to key players. From the bleachers, we weren’t getting the injury reports. No Alex Flanagan. We didn’t realize how bad the situation was. It was amazing that McGhee didn’t have a better game.

Ben looked good in warm ups and showed little or no signs of his ankle injury.
Much has been made about the Steelers drops. During the first half, the receivers weren’t getting open down field. Denver was playing man and double teaming Brown and occasionally Wallace. the short stuff was open, but the Steelers didn’t figure that out until the second half. Heath was virtually left alone in the flat. I thought the steelers could have exploited that more.

Ike Taylor looked like he was substituting for McFadden. The fact is that the Broncos had receivers wide open all day long. Most quartbacks threw away from Taylor. Tebow was not afraid to challenge Taylor and it showed. He exposed Taylor as a 3rd rate CB. At least for this game.

Tebow played out of his mind. One Bronco fan told me that he could not believe how many passes Tebow was hitting. In the first quarter, no one feared when Denver got the ball. But by the second quarter and for the rest of the game, Denver was one pass play from a score. It came to fruition in overtime.

Denver D got tired. I was surprised because the altitude appeared to get to the Broncos more than the Steelers. The Steelers picked up their game in the second half and the Denver D slumped. Redman was running all over the Broncos in the second half. Bad clock management at the end of the game prevented the Steelers from running a draw play that might have put the Steelers in position to kick the winning FG. Only the Denver rush that kept collapsing the pocket that saved the game. Had the Steelers had their starting O line, the outcome might have been different.

The Steeler Defense was confused. No one expected Tebow to throw, to throw down the field and actually throw well. What you could not see on TV was that the safties cheated up most of the time to help on the run. You had 8 to 11 Steelers in the box. This allowed for the big pass plays because there we no over the top help. You had the safties chasing down the receivers from behind. The Steelers might have done better if they had left Troy or Mundy 20 yards back. In the second half, Le Beau backed his secondary off a bit. Tebow just did not go long. Taylor did press the receivers, while Gay played his usually 10 to 15 yards off.

What really hurt the Steelers was the lack of a pass rush. Tebow was given too much time. The linebackers were playing contain most of the game. There was hardly any rush up the middle. There were no corner or safety blitzes. That is how you stop a mobile qb. The Steelers have played mobile qb’s before. Why Tebow created problems for the Steelers D needs to be answered in the off season.

The confusion culminated in the slant to Thomas for a touchdown in overtime which ended the game. Mundy was in position before the snap of the ball. If he had stayed back, then Thomas would have only gotten 20 – 30 yards. He came up. (I don’t think Clark would have done that.) You had effectively 11 guys in the box. On that play, 8 Steelers dropped back into coverage. Thomas had gotten behind the coverage and Polamalu. The game was over. The funny thing was that most Bronco fans were still in line for the loo. Nobody thought the game would be over so quickly.

Why didn’t Clark play? I know of his high altitude illness, but he was on the sidelines. If he was really affected by the altitude, why didn’t he stay in Pittsburgh. Would running around have made his condition worse? I doubt it. I live here and the altitude affects you whether you are walking around or running around. Could he have gone to Denver earlier in the week to acclimatize himself? The airplane he flew on is acclimatized to 10,000 feet which is twice as high as Denver. Tomlin probably thought he could get away with a win with so many starters not playing. In the end, it turned out not to be the case.

Tomlin is too smart for his own good. He plays players who shouldn’t be playing due to injuries and sits players who should be playing like Clark.

Arians should go. The Steelers offense was confound and befuddled in the first half when Arians was calling the plays. When Ben went to hurry up, the Steelers started to move the ball. The Steelers offense finally woke up in the second half but again I think it was more Ben’s doing than Arians. There is a real lack of creativity in the Steelers’ offense for such a talented team.

The Steelers are not too slow or done. They are just old. It’s sad to see in a sport that when a player reaches 30 his career is nearly over. It’s not that they can’t play. They can’t stay healthy. If there was anything truly amiss this season it was that. Even if the Steelers had won yesterday, they would have limped into the next game with second and third stringers. For next season, the Steelers are going to have to step it up.

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