The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the game as a 14 point favorite. It’s rare for any NFL team to be favored by to that degree at any point in any season. Green Bay did not seem to pay any attention because they took Pittsburgh to the final gun last night at Heinz Field. The Steelers would be forced to kick a record 53 yard field goal to give them a 31-28 win as time ran out.
Last week, the fan base was sparked by Big Ben coming alive for the first time all season. This week was more of the same, although he did throw two picks. What they would also get is the defense giving up more big plays both in the air and on the ground. But this time the air assault did not come from the likes of a top tier or even middle of the road quarterback.It was from a back up that in weeks past was as abysmal as any quarterback in history.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense from time to time last night let the Brett Hundley look like Aaron Rodgers. Hundley for the game would go 17-27 for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns. The week prior, he would throw for 239 yards and 3 interceptions. He would also get sacked 6 times, and 4 times this week.
The Green Bay quarterback was able to find holes in the Pittsburgh secondary and exploit them like many others have been in recent years. The Steelers defense also had issues in the tackling department which compounded those blown assignments. All of this took place after the Steelers would start strong with an opening touchdown.
Big Ben drove the Steelers right down the field with short and middle range passes. Antonio Brown was the recipient of a long pass to start the drive. After driving down inside the 5 The Steelers would get stopped inside the 2 on third down leaving them with a 4th and 1. With the choice to go for it or kick a field goal. The Steelers gambled and threw a pass to Grimble for a touchdown to give them a 6-0 lead. Boswell would miss the extra point and the lead would sit at 6.
That is when Brett Hundley would go to work eventually throwing a 39 yard TD pass to tie the game. Crosby would hit the extra point to give the Pack a 7-6 lead.
Ben and the Steelers would continue their air raid and ignore Le’Veon Bell which would lead to an interception by Ben that would turn into points. The Packers would end up getting yet another big play extending the lead to 14-6.
Pittsburgh’s offense would finally get going again in the second quarter and tie the game with another big pass and catch to Brown follwed by even distribution with his other weapons. Ben would finish off the drive with 17 yard TD pass to Bryant to cut the lead to 14-12. He would then go for 2 and connect with Brown for the 2-point conversion. That would be the score when the two teams went into half.
The Steelers D would come out into the third quarter and once again look bad. They struggled playing consistent all night. They would show signs of being a shut down defense and then resemble the defense we saw in the previous couple of seasons.
The Packers would tack on another touchdown because of that poor tackling and coverage to once again give Green Bay a 21-14 lead.
Big Ben would get struck by the interception bug one more time as he would throw a pass that would be tipped, then picked off. Green Bay would put a small drive together that they culminateinto a field goal attempt from about 58 yards, but it was no good. It was a gamble because the miss would give Pittsburgh a short field. That is when the Steelers would go to work.
Ben would guide the Steelers to two touchdowns in a row to take the lead away from the Packers. While the offense was kicking into high gear, the defense started to get angry. They strung together sacks and hurries that would effect Hundley for most of the late third quarter and midway through the fourth. That was until late in that fourth when he would once again pull from his inner Bart Starr and lead the Packers down the field for a game tying touchdown. In those 4 drives, he looked efficient and poised. The other drives left a lot to be desired, but those 4 were very good.
The Steelers would get two chances, the second of which came with less than 30 seconds. They would convert a couple first downs to get them to around the 31 yard line of the Packers. That is when Ben would drop back with 9 seconds and would deliver a dump off to Bell. With time running out, Bell was forced to dive to the ground to stop the clock. Unfortunately that dive lost the Steelers 4 yards and left them with a 53 yard field goal attempt. Boswell missing an extra point earlier would make good and nail the record tying 53 yard field goal for their 9th win. That tied the longest kick in Heinz field history. Kris Brown would kick one that far in Kansas City and Gary Anderson has the Steelers record with a 55 yarder made in Three Rivers Stadium.
Big Ben would go 33-45 for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns. He would throw 2 picks and Le’Veon Bell would fumble once to give the Pack even more opportunities.
Antonio Brown was the star though last night as he would catch 10 passes for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns which was nearly half of Big Ben’s production. Le’Veon Bell would also make 12 receptions for 88 yards along with 95 rushing yards on 20 carries. The killer B’s were exactly that last night, although the Packers were really good themselves last night. Their success was a surprise to most and showed just how vulnerable this defense is with out Joe Hayden at corner.
Coach Tomlin was asked in an interview prior to the game about the Patriots by former coach and friend Tony Dungy (NBC Color Analyst). When asked about that Patriots team, Tomlin would mention how they are a focus for them. Admitting the coaching staff was peeking ahead.
Although it is natural to do so, there is no reason to admit it in an interview on National TV. Especially when your team struggles with playing down to their opponents.
Although Pittsburgh is 9-2 and an inside trace to get home field, if they duplicate that game in the coming weeks, they will likely lose in a big way.
5 Big Takeaways:
1.) Shazier left with an injury, no update to this point on his status moving forward.
2.) Artie Burns did not perform up to any standard last night. Burns was a liability on the outside and blew coverages and tackles throughout including on the 50+ yard screen.
3.) Bud Dupree to this point is not an upgrade over James Harrison. Harrison continues not to dress and Dupree has been a disappointment in recent weeks not getting pressure on the QB and struggles in coverage when dropping back.
4.) Midway through the 3rd quarter Cam Heyward broke out and looked like the team leader and mauler that he can be. Then for the remainder of the game he was quiet. The defensive line had spurts, but largely could not get pressure quickly. The reason I bring the “quickly” up is because a QB like Brady would have plenty of time to deliver in those instances.
5.) Dropped passes. I realize Ben went 33-45 for 345 but the Steelers receivers dropped too many passes early in the game in key situations. If they would have played a better team, that would have ended up being a bigger factor but because Brett Hundley and the Packers only looked like the Aaron Rodgers led packers for 5 drives, it saved Ben’s receiving corp.