Going into the Steelers/Saints matchup this past Sunday, I was speaking to myself in regards to the common denominators and the uncommon contrasts of both teams. I was wondering based solely on stats, which team had the best chance at success.
Well, the Saints ended up putting a “whoopin” on the Black and Gold by the score of 35-32 and in reality threw the stats out of the window. Oh and except for two late game “garbage” touchdowns by the Steelers, the game would have been a laugher.
Let’s begin with defense. Before the game, Pittsburgh had the number 13th ranked defense after the game, the Black and Gold had moved up to number 12. New Orleans had the 24th ranked squad before their Pittsburgh encounter, after the game. the Saints defense dropped to the 31st ranked defense in the NFL but they crushed the Steelers.
H’mm, I wonder why Pittsburgh lost?
Oh, I get it now. Could the reason for the defeat have been turnovers? Now read this. As Far as the game itself was concerned, the Steelers won the time of possession battle, 33:59-26:01), first downs, (36-20) and net yards passing, (435-250). Pittsburgh’s stats were almost better that every New Orleans numbers but rushing yardage (143-103) and the final score.
Why? Because Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger continues to make “ultra dumb” decisions disguised as “splash” plays. He continues to “give” games away instead of just simply throwing the ball away when under duress.
Pittsburgh lost the game by three points. Roethlisberger was intercepted i the end zone, effectively killing a possible field goal attempt as well as giving the ball back to the Saints and ya know what? New Orleans scored a TD off the turnover, that boys’ and girls’ is a 10 point swing.
The Steelers lost the game by the score of 35-32, just three points, just reminding you in case you may have forgotten. Now there is talk that one of the reasons that Ben Roethlisberger put on a horrible performance was because he smacked his right hand off the helmet of Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton late in the first quarter. That excuse sounds sort of crappy, don’t you think?
Well I think that explanation stinks and here’s why. If “Big” Ben would have just used common sense we would not be having this conversation. If your hand is injured, why would you try to force a ball into double coverage in the end zone? The brain of a flea would contain enough “thinking power” to alert you to the possibilities of that play succeeding would be slim and none.
Folks are saying that the blame lies at the feet of Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin. I wholeheartedly disagree with that analysis. Why? Well because Mike Tomlin can prepare his players during the week for a game but if the athletes take it upon themselves to make stupid decisions on Sundays, Mondays, or any other day that team plays, how and why should the coach be responsible?
Mike Tomlin or any other coach cannot be expected to guide the football from the quarterbacks hands into the receivers hands.
A New Orleans based writer that preferred to remain anonymous said to me; “sometimes it appears that Ben Roethlisberger is more concerned about his personal stats and keeping Antonio Brown’s streaks alive then really focusing on the short passing, move the chains offensive philosophy of [Steelers Offensive Coordinator] Todd Haley.”
Ben Roethlisberger gave us some profound insight as to one of the reasons that the Steelers defeated by the Saints last Sunday. “I need to play better,” he said. No sh-t, Sherlock and people in Hell need a Mason jar full of ice water, and last but not least, I, and many others like me need a million dollars.
Would you please tell us something that we don’t know? We all have needs. Will those needs and requests be granted? Who knows, maybe only the “Shadow” knows? But I know one thing that is certain. The Steelers must sweep their remaining games and get some help if they hope to be playing in late January because if they don’t, the only need the Steelers will have will be to find the phone number to order pizza and hot wings while channel surfing from the sofa, watching 12 other NFL franchises compete for the championship.
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.583.6741 Follow him on Twitter@ultrascibe