Steelers Week 11: Cheers, Jeers, & Fears
Shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday, the entire Steelers fan base let out a giant sigh of relief as Chris Boswell knocked home a walk-off 33-yard field goal to save the team from another bad loss.
The turnaround started when Ryan Shazier picked off a pass deep in Colts’ territory that set up a touchdown, and a tying two-point conversion early in the fourth quarter.
Big Ben then led a drive down the field with less than a minute left to set up the Boswell game-winner.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Steelers found a way to eke out a win on the road and move to 7-2 on the season.
Now, the Steelers face a quick turnaround and play a second AFC South opponent in four days. Thursday night games are always tricky, and the Steelers are lucky this game is at home.
Here are my cheers, jeers, and fears for the Thursday night matchup against the Titans.
After getting gashed on first down through the first two quarters, Pittsburgh’s run defense showed up in the second half against the Colts.
Javon Hargraves, Stephon Tuitt, and Cam Heyward combine to make one of the best run-stopping units in the league.
Teams are going to try to neutralize the Steelers offense by running and holding on to the ball with long drives, and the defensive line needs to continue to shut down the run.
Stopping the run becomes even more critical now that the Steelers are without their number one cornerback for the next 5-6 weeks as Joe Haden recovers from a broken fibula.
Tennessee has a potentially dangerous running game, and Pittsburgh will need to be stout once again to pull out a win on Thursday.
I hate that I’m saying this, but I miss the short 5-7 yard passes that were a staple in Todd Hayley’s offense for the last few years.
Now, it seems like every throw is 20 yards down-field into double coverage.
Where are the back-shoulder passes to Brown that was almost indefensible in past years? Why hasn’t Bell been more involved in the passing game?
Let’s also stop with the end-around to Bryant. It hasn’t worked once this season. Instead, I would love to see a few more bubble screens where he is already in space to make a play.
The short passes will open up the middle of the field for longer crossing patterns for AB and the rest of the team.
The loss of Joe Haden is enormous.
He was a shut-down player and a veteran presence on the field. Pittsburgh now has a dilemma on their hands.
Cody Sensabaugh stepped in on Sunday and made a few nice plays, but I don’t know if they can count on him once Pittsburgh faces a better quarterback.
Mike Hilton has cemented himself as a great nickel defensive-back, and shouldn’t be thrown into constant coverage situations.
Mike Mitchell also went out in the game, and although he’s not a coverage player, he is a presence in the middle of the field.
Artie Burns should move over to Haden’s spot, and I think they will try out Sensabaugh in coverage so Hilton can continue his role as the nickel back.
Tennesse wants to run the ball. They have a duo of running backs in Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry who can run with power but can also beat you in the passing game.
Marcus Mariota is a talented young player and can beat you with his arm or legs. Pittsburgh needs to play sound defense to avoid giving up long game-changing runs.
On a short week, I look for Pittsburgh to run the ball a lot and open up play-action to ease the coverage across the middle of the field.
Antonio Brown should be heavily involved in the game-plan, and I expect him to have 8-10 receptions for over 100 yards in the game.