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Steelers vs Buccaneers First Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations from the first half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • The Steelers opened in a three-tight end set, if you include Will Johnson, who was lined up far right to receive a screen pass on first down. David DeCastro failed to cut his man down the field and helped contribute to keeping that just a one-yard gain.
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a more cleanly executed finesse pass rush than what Gerald McCoy did to Cody Wallace on second down. The Steelers will be happy to get Ramon Foster back next week.
  • As confirmed after the game, Le’Veon Bell failed to chip the defensive end on the third-down sack that resulted in a turnover—though that may not have prevented a sack.
  • Credit goes to Mike Glennon on the first score of the game, putting the ball where only his receiver could catch it before Cortez Allen could turn around. He did stick his hand out and almost accidentally deflected it.
  • Rookie Dri Archer had more success blocking for LeGarrette Blount on the following kickoff than he has had returning them so far.
  • The Steelers lined Heath Miller behind center, allowing McCoy to go wide of DeCastro. Miller was there to turn the defensive tackle, giving Bell an alley to the outside, but he was swallowed by the hard-charging safety.
  • McCoy drove DeCastro back on third down enough to get into the throwing lane, and he was able to bat the ball down to force a three-and-out.
  • 15 of the 23 yards the Buccaneers advanced on their second drive that ended in a field goal were provided by a personal foul on Mike Mitchell.
  • The Steelers were in another three tight end set on first down when Antonio Brown dropped the screen pass, and he would have had some room to run with Miller blocking the corner.
  • Miller was wide open on second down with the Buccaneers linebackers biting on play action, but he, too dropped a pass that probably would have resulted in an explosive play.
  • On third down, Markus Wheaton simply ran up the seam and Ben Roethlisberger got him the ball, getting outstretched to bring it in past midfield.
  • Roethlisberger on a designed rollout on the next play for another first down to Wheaton. The Steelers used a lot more play action and roll outs in this game than has been customary.
  • Brown chased back the corner before pulling up on the next play for a 19-yard completion.
  • Despite getting into him, Lavonte David worked through Marcus Gilbert’s block on the Archer run on first and goal to make the tackle. It was simply a good play from the linebacker.
  • There’s no excuse for Justin Brown not coming up with the catch on third down in the end zone. It went through his hands.
  • James Harrison started on the Buccaneers’ next possession. It didn’t matter, because Cameron Heyward buried the back for a loss.
  • Mike Evans could not hang on to the second-down pass with Allen closing, while Mitchell sniffed out the draw on third and long to force a three-and-out.
  • A William Gay hold on the ensuing punt only cost the Steelers a yard after the re-kick.
  • Bell got his first breakthrough on second down of the Steelers’ fourth possession behind a good combination block from Maurkice Pouncey to spring him off right guard for 16 yards. Of course, he was flagged for taunting afterward, and quite honestly I still don’t entirely see why.
  • Play action and a rollout on the next play on short completion to Miller.
  • Great blocking by the interior offensive line, as well as the effort of the perimeter receivers, opened up another easy lane for Bell for another 14 yards a few plays later.
  • Antonio Brown ran off the corner and backpedaled into the soft zone in front of the safety for 27 yards, once again giving the Steelers first and goal.
  • Brown’s first touchdown pass came to him lined up in the slot. He simply ran past the nickel back and sat down in front of the safety.
  • The Steelers blitzed their inside backers on first and 10, with Sean Spence nearly getting home, but Glennon managed to get the ball to his tight end with Mitchell in coverage before he took a hit.
  • Spence cut through the line on the next play, but missed the tackle on Bobby Rainey in the backfield, which resulted in a 10-yard gain instead of a loss.
  • On Heyward’s sack, Arthur Moats got an excellent jump off the snap to beat the left tackle around the edge and get the initial pressure on Glennon.
  • On second and 25, Lawrence Timmons watched for Doug Martin to turn on a screen, but he bailed out a split second too soon, because as soon as he turned around and dropped back, assuming the back was in pass protection, he got the ball and gained seven yards before the linebacker chased him down.
  • Though the Buccaneers backed the Steelers up inside their own 10, Blount found room for 11 yards on first down to gain some breathing room. Miller, DeCastro, Gilbert, Wallace, and Pouncey all had the key blocks to get the back nearly untouched.
  • The Steelers were driving well until Kelvin Beachum was beaten for one of his three sacks allowed, but a Lance Moore reception and quarterback sneak on fourth down kept the drive alive.
  • Beachum allowed another sack on first down later in the drive, but Roethlisberger found Brown in the end zone on the next play—even though there should have been offsetting penalties on he and the cornerback for pushing off.
  • Harrison’s biggest contribution on the day was drawing a holding penalty on the left tackle. Tampa Bay went three and out after that after a drop and a pair of delay of game penalties.
  • The Steelers’ two-minute offense was clicking immediately with five straight completions to Bell and Miller down to the 26-yard line, but the Steelers lost a down by spiking the ball instead of losing their last timeout, and then Roethlisberger was sacked on third down. It put the ball on the 32 and Shaun Suisham missed from 50.
  • In case you were wondering, Beachum missed a T/E stunt, with Da’Quan Bowers crushing down to the edge in front of Wallace and across the left tackle’s face.
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