Monday, October 01, 2007

That’s Spesh-i-al

Ironic, isn’t it, given all the attention on Special Teams during the pre-season, that the Steelers’ special teams play on Sunday, well, wasn’t so special? Special Teams gaffes on consecutive plays early in the fourth quarter were pivotal.

After the Steelers’ Carey Davis was flagged for leaving too early on a Daniel Sepulveda punt early in the fourth quarter, the Arizona Cardinals’ Steve Breaston, formerly of the University of Michigan and Pittsburgh’s Woodland Hills High School, blazed through coverage for a 73-yard punt-return touchdown.

Davis’s penalty was one of way too many penalties – a total 11 for 73 yards, with a whopping six penalties on special teams alone.

Worse, with Hines Ward out, the Cardinals’ defense showed little respect for the Steelers’ passing game and stacked up against the run, limiting Willie Parker to just 37 yards on 19 carries.

With no running game to support him, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger struggled in the second half, throwing two interceptions while completing just 9-of-21 passes for 124 yards and one late touchdown.

And, if Breaston’s touchdown wasn’t the pivotal play in the game, then Roethlisberger’s third-quarter interception in the end zone was. Following James Harrison’s fumble recovery that gave the Steelers first and goal at the four yard line, Roethlisberger, on a third-and-goal play from the two yard line, inexplicably threw into triple coverage and was picked off by safety Adrian Wilson. The interception breathed new life into the Cardinals and shifted momentum for good.

“This loss is on me,” Roethlisberger said. “I can't throw a pick in the end zone. The defense gives you an opportunity, and you throw it away. It's disappointing. It's frustrating. You feel like you let guys down.”


Roethlsiberger seemed off his game, especially in the second half, but he didn’t get much help from his receivers, except for Santonio Holmes, who had six receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Cedric Wilson and Nate Washington seemingly ran the wrong routes all day, and Washington had at least a couple drops. It also didn’t help that the offensive line struggled to protect Roethlisberger, who took four sacks and was harassed repeatedly.

But if Roethlisberger’s end-zone interception shifted momentum in the Cardinals’ favor, Breaston’s subsequent punt return for a touchdown sealed the win. It was spe-cial.


Christmas Ape said...

That entire sequence from the four made no sense. Willie straight ahead on first? Okay. He picks up two. Then why not Najeh on second down? Why not even a play action on 3rd? Just a straight drop back and forced throw towards Heath Miller? Ben did the exact same thing in the first Bengals game at home last year and it was what turned the tide in a game we had been cruising through.

Santonio was the lone bright spot of that game. He and Ward will prove to be a good tandem when they're both healthy. Health, of course, isn't easy for us to come by, with Casey, Troy and Hines all hurt.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

I didn't like the play-calling on that sequence. After Willie was stuffed on the first two plays and they lined up in a spread formation, I thought for sure Ben was going to hand it off to Willie up the middle. It could've popped and even if he doesn't score, at least you get three points.

But no-o-o, Ben throws into triple coverage, gets picked, and the momentum shifts over to the Cardinals. For good.

Adrian Wilson, by the way, is a beast.