Steelers Week 15: Cheers, Jeers & Fears

by: Jimi The Intern
December 13, 2017

Is there any precedent for a kicker winning the MVP?

There’s not, I’ll save you the Google search, but Chris Boswell is making the case that he should at least be the Steelers’ team MVP. He’s as clutch as it gets.

With four game-winning field goals in the final minute, three in the final seconds, he has kicked the Steelers to four out of their last five wins and is the reason they have won so many close games.

Sunday night against the Ravens was a rollercoaster of a football game. I came to terms with a tough loss about four to five times throughout the game, and I still can’t believe they were able to pull off a win.

The Steelers are AFC North champs once again.

Now, they face their toughest test to date when Darth Vader, Emporer Palpatine, and the rest of the stormtroopers from Foxboro make their way to Heinz Field on Sunday.

The Patriots –The Evil Empire– and Steelers will play one of the most meaningful football games of the season. If Pittsburgh wins, they have a great shot at keeping home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, if New England comes out with a win, the AFC goes through Foxboro once again.

Here are my week 15 cheers, jeers & fears. 

Cheers

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Resiliency.

This team has this in spades. They never give up. They never think they are out of a game.

Even after blowing a 14-point lead and going down by 11 heading into the 4th quarter, this team never blinked.

Just look at the pass from Ben to AB with only a minute left. It looked like they expected to make that play. Ben dropped a dime on his 64th pass of the game, and the Ravens were dumb enough to play AB in single-coverage.

Heads up Baltimore, that’s not what we would call a “good” idea.

Even before the final drive, Pittsburgh showed their mental toughness. The defense, who had been sliced up all game, came up with several crucial stops to give the offense the opportunity to keep scoring.

This is a resilient bunch that has earned the right to be called Super Bowl hopefuls.

Jeers

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While the defense stepped up big at the end of the game, they looked terrible for the first 57 minutes. The Ravens aren’t an offensive juggernaut, and the Steelers, in their first full game without Ryan Shazier, struggled to stop the run.

Flacco smartly picked on Coty Sensabaugh all night, who couldn’t cover anyone, and the front seven couldn’t get much of a pass rush, save for the last play of the game, to force Flacco into bad throws.

Pittsburgh wasn’t getting much help from the referees either. Artie Burns was flagged two times on horrifically lousy pass interference calls that led to Ravens’ touchdowns.

They were awful calls that can deflate a defense.

With the said, the Steelers need to step up their defensive efforts if they want to have any shot at taking down the Patriots this weekend and beyond.

Fears

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Ryan Shazier’s injury might be hard to overcome.

Last week when I wrote this, Shazier’s injury didn’t seem as severe as it turned out to be. There was legitimate hope that he would return in time for the playoffs.

We now know this isn’t the case, and Pittsburgh needs to adjust their game plan accordingly.

Sean Spence and Arthur Moats looked slow and had trouble tackling in the open field. James Harrison still saw a limited role, but that could change in the coming weeks.

I still think the key to “replacing” Shazier is getting Bud Dupree more involved. His speed can help make up for what the defense lost when Shazier went down. It’s a tough ask, but someone needs to step up.

Prediction

This is a hard one to predict. It’s the one game you look at on the schedule and usually chalk up to a loss.

It’s no secret that The Evil Empire has had the Steelers’ number as of late. Pittsburgh deploys the same defensive scheme against them time after time, and it never works.

While my faith in the defense is waning, my faith in the offense continues to soar.

The Steelers have the top passer, rusher, and receiver in the league in Ben, Bell, and Brown, and their offensive line continues to improve.

Pittsburgh continuously plays to the level of their opponent, and they continue that trend this weekend and give the Patriots all they can handle.

Pittsburgh wins 30-24, and the defense makes a few key plays to stifle a last-minute Patriots drive. Just win, baby.

Categories: Sports, Steelers

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