Steelers’ Jekyll-and-Hyde

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Steelers’ Jekyll-and-Hyde

liny195
Act continues as they hang on for a 30-27 win in Tampa I know — a win is a win is a win. No such thing as style points — yada [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/alejandro-villanueva-jersey]Authentic Alejandro Villanueva Jersey[/url] , yada. But when Ryan Switzer caught a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to cap an impressive drive which began with only one minute remaining in the first half — making the score 30-10 in Pittsburgh’s favor — you’d have been laughed right out of the stadium if you suggested either of the following scenarios:No. 1 — The Steelers’ offense would be shut out for the entire second half, and No. 2 — Switzer’s TD would provide the final margin of victory.But when Tampa Bay took possession of the ball with 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter and the score narrowed to 30-27 — in the wake of 17 unanswered points scored by the Bucs — things were looking pretty dicey for the Black-and-gold. Luckily, on a 3rd-and-10 play, Ryan Fitzpatrick misfired on what might have been yet another 3rd-and-long conversion, thus forcing the Bucs to punt the ball back to the Steelers for what would be the game’s final possession.As redeeming and enjoyable as the first half at Raymond James Stadium had been, the second half was so ugly that it almost made you forget the first half ever happened. After Tampa Bay received the second-half kickoff, their offense was promptly flagged for two consecutive false starts before Fitzpatrick launched a pass to Chris Godwin on a play which initially looked like a catch-and-run for a TD. But the score was nullified when the play was reviewed and Godwin was ruled to be down by contact. The Bucs ended up having to settle for a field goal which made the score 30-13 in Pittsburgh’s favor. At that point, the 17-point lead still looked pretty safe. But on the Steelers’ first possession of the second half, on a 3rd-and-3 play from the Bucs’ 28-yard line, Ben held onto the ball too long and was strip-sacked. Fortunately, B.J. Finney jumped onto the loose ball, salvaging a field goal attempt which, unfortunately, Chris Boswell doinked off of the right upright.Then, in the fourth quarter, on their next possession [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/le_veon-bell-jersey]Womens Le'Veon Bell Jersey[/url] , the Bucs marched right down the field, converting a key first down on 4th-and-7 play from the Steelers’ 42-yard line — which led to another Tampa Bay TD, cutting the margin to 30-20. After yet another Steelers’ drive stalled, the Bucs once again drove right down the field, scoring on a Fitzpatrick pass to Mike Evans that caught Artie Burns badly out of position.It was the Steelers’ next-to-last possession of the game, though, which was particularly troubling. After a nifty 27-yard run by James Conner — followed by another 9-yard Conner run — the Steelers ran one of their trademark slow-developing sweep plays on first down (the likes of which formerly had been blamed on Todd Haley) and lost four yards. Then, on a 3rd-and-9 play, Ben tried to force the ball deep to Antonio Brown, who was covered like a blanket, thus giving the Bucs their final shot to pull out a win. Besides a couple of Conner runs, just about the only good thing the Steelers’ offense did during the entire second half was on their final possession, when Roethlisberger scampered out of the pocket on a third-down play, throwing across his body to hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on a crucial first-down pass that sealed Tampa Bay’s doom.Old habits persistWhile this win certainly is welcome and much-needed, the way that the second half played out was anything but reassuring for those in search of some clues about the character of this 2018 Steelers team. Considering that the Tampa Bay defense was fielding a group of backups in its secondary for the entire second half, and the Bucs’ defensive line was getting little or no pressure on No. 7 [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/jordan-berry-jersey]Womens Jordan Berry Jersey[/url] , the much-hyped Steelers’ offense somehow failed to manage even a single score of any description during the final 30 minutes of football.In crucial situations where one or two successful plays might have thwarted any possibility of a Tampa Bay rally, the Steelers appeared equally inept in their offensive schemes as they’d often been under Haley’s tutelage. Furthermore, the Black-and-gold were taking far too many costly penalties which handed the Bucs huge chunks of free yardage. In fact, the Steelers’ offensive line might have been the only consistently-good aspect of the team’s play in Tampa. For the most part, Ben had adequate time to throw the ball, and the sacks he took were mainly coverage-related. Additionally, in the second half, the Steelers squandered two of their three remaining timeouts, and they were quite fortunate they didn’t need them late in the game.So while it might be true that a win is a win — and style points don’t count — if the Steelers fail to address some of their nagging inconsistencies on both sides of the ball in the coming weeks, they’re likely to find themselves on the losing end at least as frequently this season as when they bask in the glory of the winner’s circle. With Pittsburgh leading at halftime 30-10, the second half of Monday night’s game should have been a relative walk in the park. But the fact that this eventually became a true nail-biter, despite Fitzpatrick’s self-destructive play during the first half, harkens back to the “same old Steelers” profile of a team that eases up on the gas pedal much too early, thus allowing lesser opponents — particularly in road games — to remain within striking distance on the scoreboard.The sheer ugliness of the Steelers’ second-half performance in Tampa thus leaves the faithful of Steelers Nation with essentially the same conundrum we faced after last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Still not being quite sure when Dr. Jekyll might morph into Mr. Hyde, or vice versa, it’s practically impossible to make any judgments at this stage about where the Black-and-gold might be headed as a team. While the Steelers’ defense appears consistently hopeless — at least for the time being — should we judge the offense based on the juggernaut witnessed during the first half on Monday night — or perhaps that feckless band-of-bros who took the field after halftime? Given the weird way that things are unfolding so far [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/cameron-heyward-jersey]Authentic Cameron Heyward Jersey[/url] , we might not have a clear answer until we reach the season’s midpoint. More than any other game so far during the 2018 regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 23-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium was a coming-of-age performance by some young players who likely will be leading this team for years to come. First and foremost, James Conner continued to absolutely obliterate any lingering thoughts of Le’Veon Bell among the faithful of Steelers Nation by racking up 163 yards of total offense (107 yards rushing and 56 yards passing). When Conner wasn’t gashing the Ravens’ defense for crucial first downs, JuJu Smith-Schuster (7 receptions for 78 yards) was doing a convincing impression of Steelers’ legend, Hines Ward, whether by snatching passes in crucial situations to move the sticks or delivering crunching blocks on the edge for Conner and others.Playing the game with a broken index finger on his left hand, Ben Roethlisberger scared the daylights out of Steelers fans everywhere early in the final quarter when he remained on the turf and appeared to be seriously hurt after being taken down hard near the sideline after a sprint out of the pocket. Overall, Ben certainly didn’t have one of his better games as a pro — completing 28 of 47 passes for 270 yards. While his play was generally competent, Ben continues to be nagged by tipped passes that lead to near-interceptions. While Ben has never been particularly adept at dumping off the ball on screens and other short passes, he came perilously close on Sunday to having some shorter throws picked off.But the play of Conner and Smith-Schuster — combined with an outstanding cameo appearance by backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs — more than compensated for Big Ben’s less-than-stellar outing. The result was a fairly dominant performance through four quarters of football by the Black-and-gold, despite the modest, 7-point advantage at the final gun. The combination of Conner’s slashing runs and JuJu’s possession catches simply was too much for the Ravens’ defense. While Antonio Brown caught a TD pass and made a few more stick-moving catches, he ranked as only the fourth Steelers receiver on Sunday with 42 yards.Defensively, we’re also seeing the continued improvement of two more youngsters, Terrell Edmunds and Mike Hilton, in the secondary. Excellent coverage by the Steelers’ DBs [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/james-conner-jersey]Authentic James Conner Jersey[/url] , plus defensive pressure on Joe Flacco, were key reasons why Baltimore managed only 16 points. Furthermore, Flacco hasn’t exactly been playing like a guy who signed a monster, 3-year contract extension in 2016 worth $66.4 million — including a $40 million signing bonus plus $44 million in guaranteed money. In fact, what once were only whispers that Flacco’s days as a starting quarterback might be numbered now have nearly become an audible roar among the Ravens’ faithful. As for the Black-and-gold, their destiny this season increasingly is being entrusted to a handful of young, breakout stars who have seized their opportunities to prove they already deserve to be included among the NFL’s best. In fact, with Conner at running back and Smith-Schuster now challenging No. 84 as the team’s go-to receiver, the Steelers’ offense might be even better now than it was with Bell in the lineup. This new identity was particularly evident during the fourth quarter in Baltimore when, despite the Ravens desperately needing to get the ball back, the Steelers’ offense was able to possess the ball and burn precious minutes off of the game clock. At that point, it was refreshing to realize that the Steelers actually could afford to be more conservative and still move the sticks — a theme which extended throughout the game. Apparently, the Conner/Smith-Schuster tandem is providing the same catalyst effect in Pittsburgh’s offense that Bell previously had brought to the table. Regardless of Bell’s undeniable talent, forcing opposing defenses to account for two additional impact players rather than only one appears to be helping the Steelers’ offense become even more versatile and less predictable. As much as he might dislike the stats, Brown’s production has dropped this season in direct relation to the rising production of Smith-Schuster. Whereas, in previous seasons [url=http://www.pittsburghsteelersteamstore.com/david-decastro-jersey]Womens David DeCastro Jersey[/url] , teams found they could make the Steelers’ offense one-dimensional by doubling Brown, that strategy isn’t working so well in 2018. As platooning of young players continues to be a distinctive feature of the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, Head Coach Mike Tomlin admits he’s opening the door for other youngsters to step up and seize the moment. Joshua Dobbs certainly appears to have gotten the memo, and it’s difficult to imagine that his clutch, 22-yard bullet to JuJu in the fourth quarter (with his back to his own goal post) wasn’t inspired at least in part by the prime examples set by No. 19 and No. 30. Despite their tender ages, these kids are proving the NFL stage isn’t too big for them.While tougher tests remain on their schedule during the second half of the 2018 season, this win was significant because the Steelers demonstrated the ability to move beyond the distractions affecting their cohesion last season and, with the Bell saga beginning in Week 1, the same thing appeared to possibly be developing this past September. But what we’re seeing now is a mostly-veteran team which looks entirely comfortable following the lead of its young, dynamic stars. Quite clearly, these youngsters are having the time of their lives in the process of making big names for themselves in the NFL. This is exactly the kind of infectious enthusiasm which can help the Steelers surmount the obstacles remaining in their path and hopefully enable them to take that next big step come playoff time. [url=http://www.nflshopoutlet.com/oakland-raiders]Custom Oakland Raiders Jerseys[/url]