Steelers vs Titans Second Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations from the second half of the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

  • The Steelers got the second half off to a positive start after the jarring momentum swing of the last minute of the second quarter, forcing a three and out.
  • They opened in their nickel, but when they went to base on second and four, it was Cam Thomas at the nose. Of course, on said play he was washed down the lined and knocked to the ground. But he and Brett Keisel were able to get pressure on third and two using a stunt to disrupt the blocking called for the Titans’ offensive line, forcing an incompletion.
  • The special teams gave and then quickly took away a 30-yard return to midfield by Antonio Brown when Arthur Moats was flagged for an illegal block in the back. The coaches’ tape unfortunately reveals that there was a minor push, but one that might have been missed had said victim not toppled over another defender as a result.
  • On offense, the team got the ball rolling the way they opened the game, by feeding Le’Veon Bell, who went for five and six yards on the first two plays of the drive. But the opening possession of the half quickly stalled on back to back sacks, culminating in an eight-yard loss on third and 14 after David DeCastro missed a twist.
  • What followed was a five-minute, 12-play drive, including an offense holding call, that extended the Titans’ lead to 11.
  • It started with Chase Coffman getting behind Will Allen after the safety bit on the run for 18 yards. The rarely used tight end freed himself from Lawrence Timmons for 10 yards on third and six.
  • After the hold, Zach Mettenberger hit Kendall Wright on first and 20, who pivoted out of the catch around William Gay for an extra 20 yards or so, 36 in all.
  • On first and goal, both Keisel and Cameron Heyward were blown off the ball on double teams, but the latter was able to recover and make the tackle after four yards. After an incompletion, Mettenberger found Coffman in the back of the end zone mismatched against the diminutive Antwon Blake in coverage, who tried to play the ball at its highest point to no avail.
  • After an incompletion on first down, Bell gained seven yards after making a couple defenders miss. Roethlisberger escaped pressure and scrambled for four yards on third down to move the chains. How would this game have unfolded if not for that play?
  • On the very next play, Bell got free for 27 yards, his longest run in several weeks. The blocking was a collective effort, but I’d like to single out some of the downfield blocking from Maurkice Pouncey and the receivers, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, for helping make that play happen.
  • Bell followed behind some good blocking up the middle for another 11 yards, and then Ben Roethlisberger connected with Heath Miller for 16 down to the five-yard line. On the first play of the fourth quarter, on first and goal, Bell was able to follow the wash-out blocks by the left side of the line through a tight window, and stretched out for the five-yard touchdown.
  • The Titans ran seven more plays on offense: a three and out, and then a first down followed by three unsuccessful plays that resulted in another punt.
  • It was Heyward who slammed the door shut for a three and out on third down, bullying the center back and taking Mettenberger down as he got off a pass behind his receiver that fell incomplete short of the sticks.
  • After a 10-yard carry by Bell on the first play, Roethlisberger started taking to the air to get the Steelers back on top, finding Lance Moore and then Bell twice before connecting with Brown for the 12-yard go ahead touchdown midway through the fourth as he froze Jason McCourty and got him turned the wrong way.
  • Somehow, by that point, the rest of the game simply felt academic, which is not a feeling I’ve had often over the past few seasons. But it seemed like the final score was already decided, and the rest of the plays just had to be run for it to be official.
  • The Steelers closed out the game with a 12-play drive, but the last three were merely procedural. It was first and 10 after the two-minute warning and the Titans had no timeouts left. Roethlisberger could have taken three knees, but he only took two. Bell got a carry on first down and lost a yard, turning a 32-carry, 205-yard day into one only slightly less spectacular.
  • Before that, however, he carried the ball seven times, including six in a row leading up to the two-minute warning that totaled 44 yards. Roethlisberger snuck in a six-yard pass to Wheaton on third and four, and the rest was all Bell, sealing the victory that sent the Steelers into the bye week as victors.
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