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Steelers vs Vikings Second Half Notes And Observations

After a couple of days’ delay, I’ve finally sorted things out with my Game Pass subscription and have gotten the opportunity to go through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hall of Game 14-3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. Below are my notes and observations from the second half of the game.

  • As we all know by now, Shaun Suisham tore his ACL on the opening kickoff of the half. Big loss.
  • The second-team defense is now fully in, with L.T. Walton at left defensive end and Howard Jones at right outside linebacker. Jordan Zumwalt and Terence Garvin took over inside. Gerod Holliman at safety.
  • Zumwalt does his Shazier interpretation on the second play of the half, knifing through the line to undercut the back for a short gain. Walton shows nice movement to the ball as well.
  • On the next play, Anthony Chickillo checked in on the right side. Got cut down for a screen. Walton again hustling to the ball.
  • Zumwalt sheds a block on 3rd and 2 to make the stop again.
  • Landry Jones’ pass to the corner for Dri Archer is wide. Not under pressure, just a poor pass, seemingly.
  • A few plays later, right guard B.J. Finney pulls and gets dipped under for a tackle for loss.
  • Five-man rush against a six-man protection on a 3rd-and-11 pass. Center Reese Dismukes is early to double team with the left guard and lets the defensive tackle rush in free, forcing Jones to heave the ball away.
  • Garvin reads the run well and makes a tackle for loss at it’s strung out to the perimeter. Garvin had himself a nice game as well as Zumwalt. Walton was tackled.
  • Cam Thomas swims over the left guard to get a lick on the quarterback, but he still gets the 2nd-and-11 pass off for a first down with B.W. Webb aggressive at the catch point. This will come into play later.
  • Jones plays off the line in base, Thomas gets late pressure on a bull rush that flushes the quarterback up in the pocket, with Hemer mopping up for a sack.
  • Garvin keeps the play in front of him on 3rd and 9 to force a punt.
  • Jawon Chisholm showed nice urgency on the nine-yard run that was negated by a Jesse James
  • With the linebacker blitzing and crashing into the right guard, the defensive end was able to scrape inside with only Archer in the backfield, with the third down play going as a sack.
  • Some said that Zumwalt was held on the long punt return, but it looked like a good non-call to me as the linebacker slid trying to stop and make the tackle.
  • Set up with first and goal at the one, Thomas gained penetration but could not get much more than a hand on the back. Hemer was buried by the left tackle, and Mike Thornton was eventually neutralized by a double team to open the hole.
  • I was not going to comment on Tyler Murphy’s snaps, but he really should have kept the ball on the Steelers’ first play after the Vikings’ score instead of handing it off, as he had Cameron Clear open with space in front of him.
  • On the second play of the Vikings’ next drive, Thomas showed a surprising first step, working around the outside of the left guard and getting contact, forcing an errant throw that should have been an interception.
  • That interception came on the following play as Webb plucked the ball out from the tight end’s grasping attempt to secure the pass. It popped out into the chest of Kevin Fogg.
  • James gave it right back on the next play, letting the ball hit off his chest and into the defender. I still hold the opinion that this should have been left as an interception, as he never appears to have meaningful possession here. He at least showed the instinct to make the tackle. I think James is still working on having the ball delivered into his chest as soon as he turns around.
  • Thomas showed another quick step for penetration, but he was tackled to the ground. Jones was sealed inside around the left edge and Holliman, playing in the box, was sucked a bit too far inside to make up for his lack of speed and agility to match the back’s cut outside, resulting in a 12-yard run.
  • 4-3 base look with Chickillo at the line. Manages to get in on the tackle on a run up the gut.
  • Zumwalt blitzes off the left edge on 3rd and 11, bull rushing the back but whiffing on the quarterback. It was enough to force him to rush a throw short of the sticks.
  • On one of the few occasions that the line looked to hold the point of attack in the running game at this stage of the game, Murphy kept the ball and ran off right tackle for no gain.
  • Jones came back with nice throws to Shakim Phillips in traffic and Archer over the middle for a third-down conversion.
  • But he followed it up by skipping a pass at Phillips’ feet down the field. And then Phillips was flagged for offensive pass interference. And then Jones missed an open Phillips high on a 3rd-and 15 pass.
  • With Jordan Dangerfield blitzing on a rush, Fogg was left on his own on the perimeter, but he came up and did a nice job of bringing the back down at the line. Garvin followed it up with excellent pursuit to the ball for a loss to force a long third down, a play that he also made by keeping the pass catcher in front of him.
  • I like Chisholm’s urgency on his first carry after a punt that pinned the Steelers back on the run. He knew he had to get some breathing room, and he did.
  • Right tackle Kelvin Palmer allowed pressure late on a throw to James, which forced Jones to alter his trajectory and the throw landed wide.
  • On the following play, it appears that Phillips turned the wrong way coming back to look for the ball.
  • You have to like Jones’ fight on 3rd and 10 to scramble and rattle off a couple of defenders to move the chains. He’s characterized as a low-key guy, so maybe these moments of obvious determination can help shed that negative stereotype that he is just going through the motions. He wanted that first down and he went and got it.
  • Two plays later, we see Jones throwing off his base, sailing a pass over Archer’s head on a hot read under pressure. This may be the biggest thing he needs to work on post-snap.
  • Left tackle Kevin Whimpey got dipped under and Jones took a shot as he threw, forcing an incompletion on the next play. Then he was called for a delay of game.
  • Both tackles allowed pressure off the edges on 3rd and 15, and Jones could do nothing but dump the ball off to Archer for a loss. After a punt, the Vikings were able to take a few knees and run out the clock.
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