Pittsburgh Steelers: The Good, Bad and Ugly of Week 2 with Video Highlights
After looking slow and lethargic on defense, and completely out of sync on offense last week, the Steelers came out with the type of fire and desire everyone is used to seeing a Pittsburgh Steelers team play with.
A shutout performance and 24 points on offense is difficult to nitpick, but there were some definite areas of interest in Week 2 that the Steelers will need to continue to look at. Some are good, some are bad and others are just plain ugly—but isn’t that the name of the article?
So without further ado, it’s time for the Week 2 installment of "The Good, Bad, and Ugly."
The Good: The Steelers' Run-Defense
The Steelers gave up just 31 yards rushing to the Seahawks after giving up 170 yards on the ground to the Ravens last week.
The Steelers' defense was accused of looking old, slow and lifeless in the season-opener, but today there was certainly no similarity to their geriatric form of a week ago.
Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons led the way with eight tackles each, as the Steelers had six tackles behind the line of scrimmage, collectively swarming to the ball-carrier true to the 2010 formula.
The Good: Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger bounced back after one of the worst performances of his career last week.
After personally turning the ball over five times against the Ravens, Roethlisberger held onto the football for the entire game against the Seahawks in Week 2.
While he did have some accuracy issues again this week, Roethlisberger still managed to complete 73 percent of his passes, going 22-of-30 for 298 yards and a touchdown.
As long as there are no lasting injury issues with his knee, there is no reason to believe that Roethlisberger will not continue to play like the player we saw in Week 2.
The Good: Overall Defensive Effort
The Steelers had nothing short of an abysmal performance defensively against Baltimore. Pittsburgh looked lethargic, at best, and other than a late-game sack, the Steelers didn’t get close to Joe Flacco for the majority of the game.
With a complete lack of penetration and zero pressure up front, the Ravens were able to do whatever they wanted offensively.
That was not the case against Seattle Sunday. The Seahawks didn’t run an offensive play on the Steelers' side of the 50-yard line until there was just 9:44 left in the fourth quarter.
While the Steelers didn’t manage a sack until they dropped Tarvaris Jackson five times on the final two drives of the game, they were able to play the majority of the game behind the line of scrimmage.
The ability to get consistent penetration on Seattle’s offensive line not only halted the Seahawks' running game, but also collapsed the pocket and forced Jackson to throw the ball on the move for the majority of the contest.
While the second corner position remains an area of serious concern, the Steelers were able to do everything they needed to in order to make up for their deficiency.
The Good: Mike Wallace
Eight receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Welcome back, Mike Wallace—it’s been a while.
This was the breakout game many have been waiting for, none more so than Wallace himself. After a slow preseason and fighting off double coverage for the latter part of the 2010 season, it had been a while since Steelers fans have seen No. 17 work over a defense like he did today.
After drawing a pass interference penalty in the end zone on the first drive of the game to set the Steelers up 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line, Wallace continued to take advantage of holes in the Seattle secondary all day.
With the start to the season Wallace had in 2010, he is no longer the best-kept secret in the NFL. Since the cat has been out of the bag, the young receiver has had to learn to fight through coverages specifically designed to take away his strengths as a receiver. It appears he is growing into his physical abilities mentally, and the Steelers can only hope this is a sign of things to continue.
The Bad: Goal-Line Blocking/Play-Calling
It is tough to tell what is worse when the Steelers get close to the goal line: the play-calling or the blocking up front.
The conundrum is something of a chicken or the egg scenario.
On one hand, you have the inability of the Steelers' offensive line to blow anyone off the ball. The Steelers are undersized at certain positions along the offensive line, and that certainly doesn’t mix well with slow.
Guys like Doug Legursky and Jonathan Scott are extremely slow off the line, and it doesn’t bode well anywhere on the field, let alone in a 1 or 2-yard box.
But with certain—and very visible—flaws upfront, the unbelievably predictable play-calling of Bruce Arians on the goal line certainly doesn’t help.
How many ways and how many times can a team try to run the football up the middle before someone decides, "Hey, this isn’t working"?
The Steelers are going to be outmatched upfront in almost any situation and certainly on short-yardage ones. However, there are ways to be effective despite the mismatches.
Two of the Steelers' three touchdowns came inside the 5-yard line, and both of them were plays that stretched the defense.
Rashard Mendenhall's 1-yard touchdown was a stretch play that took the ball over the right tackle, and of course, the perfectly-thrown corner fade route from Roethlisberger to Wallace from 1-yard out went to the outside as well.
At the risk of Arians deploying five more wide receiver screens in attempts to get the ball outside, it is undoubtedly more effective with the personnel on the Steelers' roster.
The Bad: William Gay
On a day when the Steelers did very little wrong on either side of the ball, it's tough to pick out many individual issues worth mentioning.
However, William Gay makes the list, and here's why:
Did Gay get burnt for a big play, cost the Steelers a touchdown or put them in a position to lose the football game this week?
No, but he certainly benefited from the defensive penetration and pressure up front.
If you were to watch Gay's play-by-play performance against the Seahawks, it would be, once again, marred by oversized cushions and missed tackles.
Even when Gay made a big hit in the first half that drew attention, watching the tape would show you that the reason he made the hit was because he got turned around by the receiver and stumbled in the right direction in his recovery.
Gay missed several tackles that resulted in first downs Sunday afternoon, and because of the possessed play of some of his teammates, the results were not as bad as they may have been in weeks' past.
While little damage was done in the process, Gay's performance in the Steelers' shutout was overshadowed by what the Steelers were able to do up front.
The Ugly: Raheem Brock’s Late Hit on Ben Roethlisberger
Whether Raheem Brock meant to hit Ben Roethlisberger as low as he did or not, the hit was as ugly as they come.
On a 2nd-and-8 play, with a little more than three minutes to play in the second quarter, Roethlisberger dropped back and delivered a pass to Heath Miller that got the Steelers down to the Seahawks' 4-yard line.
And Raheem Brock delivered a hit to the unsuspecting quarterback's right knee that could have ended his season.
Roethlisberger had to leave the game after being down on the field for several minutes.
While Charlie Batch made two hand-offs that yielded very little, Roethlisberger found a way to get back on the field for the last play of the drive.
Say what you will about Roethlisberger, but he may be one of the toughest quarterbacks to ever play the game of football in the modern era.
With the game well in hand in the second half, one has to question coach Mike Tomlin’s decision to leave Roethlisberger in the game.
Pittsburgh played a style of game against the Seahawks that most are used to seeing from the Steelers.
While Pittsburgh waited to dial up the blitz packages until later in the game, be not alarmed, Steelers fans. In a game like this one, it's actually very encouraging on several fronts.
First and foremost, the Steelers showed the ability to penetrate a defense without sending massive blitz packages, and they showed the ability to get to the quarterback later in the game when they needed to as well.
Secondly, the Steelers came up with five sacks on the final two Seattle drives of the game. For a team and a defensive coordinator who loves to fold into a prevent defense late in the game, they went after the quarterback when they should have—when they were attempting to mount a fourth-quarter comeback.
The Steelers also meshed well on offense this week, getting all of the important individuals involved at different times. A breakout game for Mike Wallace is never a bad thing for this team.
As they look ahead to a Sunday night game against a Peyton Manning-less Colts team, the Steelers should certainly have learned something about who they are and what it is that must be done in order for this team to win.
While the Colts are formidable, they are certainly a different team with Manning under center, and the Steelers should have an easier time getting to Kerry Collins (or possibly David Garrard out of the free-agent pool).