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After further review …

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Taking a look back at the Steelers-Seahawks game on my DVR

* Who would ever think that the Steelers’ defense would pitch a shutout by basically playing coverage the entire game?

But that’s what happened against the Seahawks on Sunday.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau felt that the only way that Tarvaris Jackson could be successful was with his legs. If he had to read coverages and make throws, he knew Jackson wouldn’t be able to beat his defense, so LeBeau sat in coverage.

And as usual, LeBeau was right.

LeBeau called 12 blitzes the entire game with nine of those coming in the second half and seven of those nine coming in the final 11 minutes of the game. Four of the Steelers’ five sacks came when a blitz was called.

LeBeau sent four or less rushers on 25 of the 37 times Jackson dropped back to pass (29 attempts, 5 sacks, 3 runs).

Blitzburgh? Not on this day.

* It’s difficult to criticize a quarterback who completed 20-of-29 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown, but Ben Roethlisberger was far from sharp against the Seahawks.

Not with his reads, but with his accuracy.

One thing about Roethlisberger over his career (more notably later in his career) is that he has been deadly accurate with his throws, especially when he is flushed out of the pocket.

It hasn’t been like that so far this year. He struggled with his accuracy against Baltimore that led to a couple of Ravens interceptions and that continued Sunday against the Seahawks.

His first pass of the game – a dump to Rashard Mendenhall – was a little high. After a precise deep ball to Mike Wallace was right on target, it was hit and miss.

His second pass, which came on a boot, was high to Heath Miller. The next pass was a check down to Isaac Redman that went high, but hauled in. The next series, Roethlisberger threw one right in the hands of linebacker Aaron Curry, who dropped it. Roethlisberger threw behind Hines Ward in the end zone near the end of the first half.

It’s probably nothing, but something to keep your eye on against the Colts.

* Live and learn for Casey Hampton, I guess.

Hampton was cut and/or chopped (I guess legally) a number of times against the Ravens last week that put him on the ground. Well, Seattle tried it on its second series when Max Unger was engaged with Hampton and right guard John Moffitt tried to backside cut Hampton.

Hampton saw it coming, got his legs out of the way, and was in on the tackle of Marshawn Lynch. It happened one other time, and again, Hampton avoided the chop … legal chop that is.

* For all the criticism Bruce Arians gets for his play calls, he made one heck of a call during the Steelers’ first series that resulted in a Roethlisberger-to-Emmanuel Sanders 30-yard gain.

The first two plays of the game, Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner played the receiver who lined up at the top of the field press/man coverage.

Both plays, Hines Ward came in motion that brought safety Earl Thomas flying up to the line of scrimmage leaving only safety Kam Chancellor responsible for deep coverage.

So, on a 3rd-and-2, Arians stacked Wallace, Ward and Miller to the right of the formation, put Sanders to the left, and had running back Mewelde Moore line up to the left of Roethlisberger in the shotgun.

All Sanders had to do was run right at linebacker Matt McCoy, who was responsible for Moore coming out of the backfield, to create a pick – that’s a Seahawk picking a Seahawk.

Browner had to take a step around McCoy and Roethlisberger delivered right on target.

It was a perfect throw, a perfect route and some nice moves by Sanders … but it was all recognition by Arians that started it all off.

* For what everybody is saying, the sack on Roethlisberger by Atari Bigby at the goalline early in the game was rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert’s fault

If that’s the truth, then I would put the blame on Arians for that sack more than Gilbert.

It is kind of unrealistic to have a big man like Gilbert bounce out and behind tight end Weslye Saunders to try to pick up a blitzing corner like Bigby.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for Saunders to take Bigby, who was lined up on his outside shoulder, rather than try to block the massive 300-pound defensive lineman Red Bryant?

Once again, it might’ve been Saunders assignment to block Bryant and let Gilbert pick up Bigby, but if it was, it was a flawed scheme because it didn’t work.

* David Johnson did not look very comfortable on the Steelers’ failed goalline series in the first quarter and especially uncomfortable on the fourth-down stop.

Johnson was in no man’s land during the Roethlisberger sack on second down then blew right past Earl Thomas on fourth down to block somebody else.

And yes, it was Thomas who made the hit on Mendenhall that turned the ball back over to the Seahawks.

* As long as they keep pressing Wallace at the line, the Steelers are going to continue to throw those quick passes to him. Now, Wallace might not have 2,000 yard receiving this year as he predicted, but he might get 150 catches.

* For my money, Antonio Brown’s 39-yard punt return late in the first quarter was the play of the game. It put the Steelers in position to open up a big lead against a bad team early in the game.

* Give Ramon Foster credit. This is a guy who started 10 games last year, including the Super Bowl, but wasn’t even given a courtesy look at the starting right guard position during training camp.

He was forced into the lineup against the Seahawks because of the injury to Chris Kemoeatu and played well.

On Redman’s touchdown run in the second, Foster pulled to the right and took out three Seattle defenders – Aaron Curry, Marcus Trufant and Earl Thomas.

* Only thing you can really be critical about the Steelers is their red-zone running game. You know, Redman was stopped as many times as Mendenhall so that’s not the answer to the problem.

Grading the Starters
Ben Roethlisberger – B (Accuracy needs to be better)
Rashard Mendenhall – B (Ran hard)
David Johnson – C- (Tough day blocking)
Mike Wallace – A (No more one-trick pony)
Hines Ward – B (Better blocker than receiver now)
Heath Miller – A (Best blocking TE in the NFL)
Ramon Foster – B+ (Doesn’t make mental mistakes)
Jonathan Scott – C (Knee still bothering him)
Doug Legursky – C (Got pushed around couple times)
Maurkice Pouncey – B (Rebounded nicely)
Marcus Gilbert – B (Really beaten only once)

Casey Hampton – B (Still hard to move)
Brett Keisel – B (Nice rebound game, too)
Aaron Smith – B (Showed more power)
LaMarr Woodley – B (Seeing more double teams)
James Farrior – B (Didn’t come off the field much)
Lawrence Timmons – B (Wasn’t out of position much)
James Harrison – C+ (Something is still missing)
Ike Taylor – A (QBs don’t even look his way)
William Gay – B (Was an upgrade over McFadden)
Troy Polamalu – A (Was everywhere)
Ryan Clark – B (Was a sure tackler again)

– Mark Kaboly

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Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug

 
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