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Week One: Steelers Vs Patriots Second Half Notes And Observations

The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered an opening day loss by the score of 28-21 against the New England Patriots. Below are some notes and observations upon reviewing the first half of the game.

  • The second half of the game got off to a familiar start, with Julian Edelman netting a first down against Antwon Blake in coverage. Only this time the issue was the poor tackling effort, allowing Edelman to slip by him for an extra three or four yards and a new set of downs.
  • Also a familiar sight was Ryan Shazier using his excellent speed to hold a run for little to no gain, showing that range that the Steelers sought when they drafted him.
  • When the Steelers went to their quarters package, they moved Shazier to outside linebacker and used James Harrison. Shazier does not have outside pass rushing skills, and it showed.
  • It was Edelman beating Blake on that dime snap for a third-and-five conversion, by the way, with the cornerback showing ugly footwork to lose very early in the down.
  • Shazier missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage on the following play against Dion Lewis, which led to an 11-yard pickup on the ground. On the next play, he was cleared off the right edge by the left guard, who pulled across the formation to make the block, resulting in another sizable pickup.
  • On the next play, Cortez Allen was flagged for pass interference on a shot into the end zone as he just hooked Edelman’s arm underneath his before letting go. Many questioned the penalty, but I see why it was called, and it will get called every time it’s seen. You can’t hook a receiver’s arm, even if doing so was inconsequential to the end result of the play.
  • At the goal line, the defense stepped up against the run on first down, but that only set up a spread look on second down, which isolated Lawrence Timmons on Scott Chandler and Terence Garvin, out wide, on Rob Gronkowski. They ran a slant-flat combination pattern to put Timmons on a trailing position as Chandler scored with ease.
  • As he did to open up the game, DeAngelo Williams started off the second half by ripping off a long gain, this time for 27 yards, aided by a Matt Spaeth
  • Ben Roethlisberger followed it up with another chunk yardage play, hitting Antonio Brown with room to run after the catch, down to the 19-yard line.
  • After Williams got the Steelers down to the one on three straight carries, he was taken off the field, replaced by Will Johnson at tailback and first-year Roosevelt Nix serving as his fullback. It took two tries, but he got in.
  • Roethlisberger then found Markus Wheaton for a two-point conversion. The first of the season.
  • On the Patriots’ first play of the next drive, Blake missed a tackle in run support against Dion Lewis on first down, resulting in a 13-yard gain. Will Allen missed a second tackle on the play.
  • Veteran William Gay perfectly ran a screen to Edelman on the following play, however, blowing it up for a loss of six yards. But Edelman got back 12 against Gay on second down.
  • On third and four, the Steelers executed a double cat blitz with Gay and Allen both rushing. Gay astutely led the running back wide around the arc to open up the hole for Allen to come in free and catch Tom Brady, who turtled up under the pressure.
  • With David DeCastro pulling, Williams secured an 11-yard gain on first down up the left edge.
  • On second down and five, Williams was able to be chased down to the edge by Malcolm Brown for a loss of one. It was the only instance on the night in which Williams was unable to use his quickness to get to the edge, and it was hard to fault him on this occasion for not doing so.
  • Off play action on the following play, nothing was immediately open, but Roethlisberger had time in the pocket, marshalling Wheaton to the spot he wanted, and then arcing a pass to the sideline across the formation, with the receiver making an excellent all-around effort to not only pull in the ball, but to keep his feet inbounds.
  • A pair of short gains set up first and goal, and a defensive pass interference ultimately bought the Steelers first and goal at the one, but three attempts to convert failed. Kelvin Beachum was drawn off for a false start on third and inches. A field goal made it a one-possession game, however.
  • The Steelers appeared to be in a Cover 3 look on the long Rob Gronkowski gain for 52 yards, with the only logical assumption being that it was Bud Dupree’s responsibility to carry the vertical.
  • Later in the drive, Timmons missed a tackle on Lewis at the 18-yard line. Mike Mitchell ended up stripping the ball out near the goal line, but the Patriots recovered and scored soon after.
  • After a failed run on first down, the Steelers once again stretched the defense out wide in their goal line package, pitting Garvin against Gronkowski on third and goal. The tight end ran a fade and Garvin could not catch up after a false step to the inside.
  • Much of the rest of the game was academic after the Steelers went three and out. Brown turtled up on second and three to avoid contact over the middle, with Roethlisberger off target on third down.
  • The defense forced a three and out, but after a chunk gain to Wheaton, Roethlisberger unwisely forced a deep pass down the left sideline, which was easily picked off by the deep safety. Roethlisberger saw the safety moving from the right side to a center field position after the snap as well.
  • The defense was hoping for a quick stop, but the Patriots were able to burn four minute off the clock on offense with a pair of first downs. They were spared by a dropped swing pass by the running back Lewis on third and four
  • Beachum had a poor series, getting bull rushed on first down and forcing Roethlisberger to flee the pocket to his right, throwing incomplete on the run. Later in the drive, he was flagged for illegal hands to the face, and then gave up a sack, to Jabaal Sheard on consecutive plays.
  • Roethlisberger ultimately found Brown in the back of the end zone with two seconds left on the clock, but it was too little, too late.
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