Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans Game Review

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans Game Review
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YES! YES! YES! After a grueling battle which saw the Steelers force seven turnovers, the Steelers win 19-11 in Tennessee for the first time in nine years.

With the victory, the Steelers head into week 3 undefeated at 2-0. This game was a sloppy, defensive battle from start to finish, but in the end, the Steelers come away with the win.

 

Offense

For the second straight week, the offense was a miserable mess. On the day, they accumulated 127 total yards, were 2/15 on third downs, and were 0/4 in the redzone.

You can put the blame for this lack of production squarely on the shoulders of Bruce Arians and the offensive line.

I frequently saw Arians using the empty set on 3rd and short and the combined results were four sacks, a fumble, or incomplete pass. I have no idea why the idea of going from an empty set would even cross his mind considering the shape of the O line.

We might as well have kept Redman on the practice squad if he wasn't going to be doing his job which is be the short yardage back.

If bad playcalling wasn't bad enough, the offensive line looked completely loss today as they were unable to open holes for Mendenhall or provide adequate protection for both Dixon and Batch.

They were the main reason why the Steelers weren't able to capitalize on seven defensive turnovers instead settling for field goals or three and outs. They also were the source of all of our penalties on the day. 

The Titans defensive line was in the backfield practically all day long and were able to hold Mendenhall to 69 yards on 23 carries.

Jonathan Scott, who did a pretty good job subbing for Starks last week, did a horrible job today as he was the source of a least two penalties, one which negated a Mike Wallace touchdown.

Flozell Adams was his old self as he once again and was guilty of a false start. I thought Colon was bad at false starts, but I'm starting to have second thoughts.

Pouncey for the most part had a pretty good game. His number wasn't called all day so he must have done something right.

Kemoeatu had a personal foul called on him after a blown up screen to Hines Ward resulted in a big scuffle between both teams.

Essex had a costly holding call late in the game as well.

Overall, it was a bad day for the O line and they have a lot of work to do heading into week 3.

Things weren't all bad on offense as Dennis Dixon was looking good early on going 4/6 for 18 yards and had 28 yards on three rushes.

It seemed Tomlin and Arians were willing to take the chains off of Dixon by letting him run today. The team paid a huge price as Dixon sustained a knee injury after a quarterback sweep.

After that it was all downhill for the offense as Charlie Batch came in and finished stinking things up.

He was 5/11 for 25 yards and failed to convert a first down. To be fair to Charlie, the offensive line did not protect him at all and he took a major beating.

Overall, the offense gets an F. This was a completely unacceptable performance and if it weren't for the defense, we would have lost this game.

Bruce Arians needs to get a grip on himself and needs to call better plays, but I might as well be talking to a brick wall for all the good it'll do.

Starks needs to come back and quickly or else whoever is behind center will have to be carried out in a body bag.

 

Defense

All last week everyone, myself included, said that the Steelers can not expect the defense to keep bailing the team out every game and that the offense has to score points.

Boy were we all wrong. The defense made a bigger statement today picking the ball off three times and and forcing three fumbles.

Troy Polamalu had his second straight game with an interception and late in the game, timed an amazing leap over the center to stop Young on a quarterback sneak. He finished the day with five tackles.

James Harrison had a monster day with the two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and 11 tackles. Silverback is back and Josh Freeman, you better lookout because you're next buddy.

LaMarr Woodley continued his sack streak this week as he forced a fumble on Vince Young. He finished the day with four tackles.

Chris Hoke played excellent in relief of Casey hampton. There was a scary moment when he came out of the game, but he came back on the next drive.

Lawrence Timmons had the difficult responsibility of keeping Chris Johnson in check. He made it made it look too easy as he was able to successfully keep Johnson under wraps. He finished the day with 15 tackles.

Speaking of Chris Johnson, the biggest challenge the defense faced was keeping Johnson under 100 yards. They more than succeeded as they held Johnson to a measley 34 yards on 16 carries.

Before the half, Johnson took one for 82 yards and I was ready to call it quits, but luckily it was called back on a holding penalty. With that, the Steelers snapped Johnson's 12 game 100 yard streak.

Overall the defense gets an A++. There's just no way to describe how well the defense played today. It was easily their best performance since 08. I can't wait to see how they handle the Buc's next week. 

Also I think the experts cheated the Steelers out of two sacks. They credited Harrison with two and Woodley and Keisel with one. Polamalu had two sacks in this game and I saw both of them. Why they didn't count, someone will have to explain to me.

Oh and as a special treat, here's my favorite sack of the day.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/pittsburgh-steelers/09000d5d81aaad6d/Steelers-defense-sack-11-yd-loss

 

Special Teams

The Steelers definitely put the special in special teams today. They kicked things off with a bang as Antonio Brown took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown off a reverse from Mewelde Moore.

He also had a big return punt return for 21 yards later in the game. It looks like Brown has locked up the return man job and I can't wait to see more from him.

Jeff Reed has made significant improvement in his kickoffs as most of them went into the endzone. He was a perfect 4-4 on the day.

The coverage units got in on the turnovers today as they forced a fumble on their first kickoff return. They allowed a big return after that, but was completely stout for the rest of the day.

Daniel Sepulveda had a decent day as well as he had 8 punts with a 43.5 average. It looks like we're going to see a lot of Sepulveda for the next two weeks since the offense can't seem to score.

Overall, Special Teams gets an A. If it weren't for that long return, they would have gotten an A+. Al Everest has done a nice job with this unit and now I find myself not holding my breath so much on kickoffs and punts.

 

Coaching

Bruce Arians had another terrible game calling the most horrid game I've seen since Cleveland. He relied on the pass when he should have relied on the run more.

Dick LeBeau called a masterful game. He had an answer for everything the Titans were doing and the result was six turnovers.

Al Everest has finally gotten this unit back on track. Reed is kicking off deeper, the coverage units are better, and we finally have a return man in Antonio Brown.

Mike Tomlin is doing a magnificent job of getting the Steelers through Ben's suspension. He's had to make some tough decisions but it was all worth it as the Steelers are 2-0.

Overall coaching gets a B+. Arians brought this grade down.

 

Final thoughts

This was another close and messy win. It certainly wasn't pretty, but it's a win nevertheless.

The defense and special teams are playing at the top of their game and the offense needs to join them. I don't know how much longer we can keep having stalled drives before something gives.

Still, the Steelers are 2-0 something most people didn't think could happen. At worst, the Steelers will go 2-2 before Ben comes back. Some people say mission accomplished, we got the two wins. The mission is not accomplished. We still have two more games left and I plan for each one to be a win.

More good news is that the Steelers are in first place in the division with a one game lead over the Ravens and Bengals who beat the Ravens today for the third time in a row.

Now we look ahead to week 3 when the Steelers travel to Tampa Bay to take on the surprisingly undefeated Buccaneers. Only one team will leave Raymond Jones Stadium 3-0 and I guarantee you it will be the Steelers.

 

Overall grade B+

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