Steelers Versus Lions – First Half Notes And Observations

By Matthew Marczi

  • I found it interesting that the Steelers opened up in the nickel, which they rarely use these days, favoring six defensive backs over five when not in base. That only lasted one play before Vince Williams was substituted for Will Allen.
  • The Steelers moved their outside linebacker around a lot in this game. Dick LeBeau has gotten creative moving Jason Worilds around all year, but against the Lions, he started switching up formations with Jarvis Jones as well. He was lined up at inside linebacker on the third snap of the game. That helped translate into two batted passes, one late in the first half.
  • Worilds overall had one of his better games of his career, in both the pass and the run, finishing with seven tackles. I don’t know if that’s a career high, but it might be.
  • If you were fooled by the early miscues from Matthew Stafford, as on the overthrown pass to Reggie Bush on third and three on their first drive, shame on you. The Steelers should just be grateful that they were able to capitalize on their slow start on offense by racking up two early scores.
  • Great start by Ike Taylor on the defense of the fourth-down pass to Calvin Johnson, but it was almost all downhill from there.
  • Le’Veon Bell showed great hesitation on his first carry of the game. David DeCastro controlled Ndamukong Suh on that play, wrenching him out of the hole.
  • It seems as though I write this every week, but despite the fact that Antonio Brown’s ability to convert third and longs on short passes should not have to be tested as often as it is, it is still a marvel to watch. Credit Jerricho Cotchery with a key block on the play as well.
  • Following it up with a long touchdown and a broken tackle was a nice touch, I thought.
  • It’s hard to deny that William Gay caught a break with Stafford overthrew Kevin Ogletree on third down on their second drive. It would’ve been a sure touchdown. He may have gotten away with another long completion late in the game that Ogletree couldn’t reel in.
  • Both of Brown’s touchdowns came a play after converting a third-and-long.
  • It seems as though Jason Worilds has finally gotten a handle on that spin move he’s been working on his entire career. He used it to great success in this game, registering most of his five hits on Stafford with a spin move.
  • In order to get them some snaps despite using so much sub-package football, the Steelers paired up Steve McLendon and Al Woods as the down linemen occasionally.
  • The Steelers tried to run an end-around with Brown after the Lions got on the board, but if failed disastrously because the blocking wasn’t picked up. Kelvin Beachum was slow to get out to his man, and instead of taking the closer defender, Heath Miller tried to pick up the one Beachum let by. It ended in a big loss that helped kill the Steelers’ offensive momentum for the first half.
  • It’s no secret that Mat McBriar had a bad first half.
  • It seemed as though Will Allen was all over the field. His strip of Bush looked like it was going to get the Steelers back on track before the red zone woes creeped in.
  • Bell and Roethlisberger couldn’t hook up on a second and six pass that would have been an easy touchdown. That kind of set up out the rest of the quarter would go.
  • Taylor not only beaten by Johnson, but missed a tackle to allow a 79-yard touchdown. He was expecting safety help, yes, but you at least have to bring him down.
  • Red zone failure number two: Miller catches the ball but can’t secure it ‘through the catch’. Another field goal. That’s an 8-point difference. The Steelers could have easily been leading at halftime if they just executed on those two plays.
  • Great job by Lawrence Timmons staying home on a screen play. He didn’t have a very good game though, missing multiple tackles.
  • Nobody picked up Brandon Pettigrew on third and 11 for an easy completion. They rushed five while Ryan Clark ran up to chase Bush. Troy Polamalu was the only other candidate.
  • The Lions drove down the field with ease on that drive. Johnson beat Taylor for another touchdown.
  • More bad execution quickly leads to a three-and-out and soon another Lions touchdown.
  • How frustrating is it that Taylor can’t catch? He should have had two interceptions.
  • On the long running back screen at the two-minute warning, Timmons and Gay ran into each other. That’s what happens when the defender shadowing the running back gets run into.
  • Two penalties on Guy Whimper after Detroit’s third touchdown. The Steelers really killed a lot of their own drives that failed on the day.
  • The Steelers gave up a first down on third and 15 from the Lions’ 44 with 52 seconds to play, with two timeouts in hand. Not good.
  • Still, the defense came up with three big deflections at the goal line to limit the damage and go into halftime with just a one-score deficit.
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