3. September 19, 2010
The Steelers’ Defense is Unstoppable and Vince Young Takes a Seat
Steelers 19 – Titans 11
If I can be frank with you readers: I was never a believer in Vince Young. Hell I wasn’t even made a believer out of him after he QB’d Texas to a National Championship during the 2005 season. I pissed quite a few people off when I tried to explain to them that USC’s Defense was mediocre, couldn’t play against the spread offense, and wasn’t hungry enough to play in the Rose Bowl. Even more were angry at me when I tried to tell them that The Big XII Conference doesn’t have a commitment to Defense (and hasn’t had it for the last decade). Moreover, not a lot of VY’s supporters appreciated it when I said that he didn’t have experience in a pro style offense and pointed to scouting reports that questioned his work ethic. Anyways, the denizens of Vince’s fan club were always quick to remind me about his early success in the N.F.L. although most of said success was built on the strong Titans running game and yeoman tough Defense. After being benched in 2008, Vince’s supporters came out in droves again after the 2009 season saw him rack up some stats against some pretty inferior opponents and in late season games where Tennessee was out of playoff contention. So heading into Week 2 of the 2010 season, the Steelers faced the apparently super-star in Vince Young and the Titans who were thought to roll all over a Steeler team that was without their QB who was suspended due to his restroom escapades during the 2009 offseason. Well the Steelers took that notion and shoved it where the sun don’t shine and literally ended Vince Young’s career as a starting QB with one incredible performance.
The Steelers started this game off with a bang thanks to Rookie speedster Antonio Brown. Brown took a reverse on the opening kickoff from Mewelde Moore and streaked 89 yards down the sideline to put the Steelers ahead 7-0 14 seconds into the game! Kudos went to new Special Teams Coach Al Everest to have the stones to call such a play, and the return unit for executing it to perfection. I’m still amazed by that play to this day. The momentum didn’t stop going in the Steelers favor though. On the ensuing kickoff Stevenson Sylvester forced a fumble that was recovered by Keyaron Fox. Unfortunately, Steeler QB Dennis Dixon, filling in for Big Ben during his suspension, fumbled the ball on a sack by Will Witherspoon and the Titans took over with some cake field position.
Yet in a theme that lasted all day, the Steelers’ Defense held firm. They limited the Titans to a 21 yard Rob Bironas Field Goal and the score stood at 7-3. After the Steelers punted on their following possession, the Titans drove the ball all the way down to the Steelers 16 yard line. But in typical Vince Young fashion, he read the defensive scheme wrong, threw into double coverage, and Troy Polamalu made a fantastic play to get the ball back for the Steelers!
The Steelers then proceeded to drive the ball down to the Tennessee 25 on a drive that lasted over 6 and a half minutes and took the game into the early 2nd Quarter. Dixon made some nifty runs on the drive but was forced out of the game due to a knee injury. Jeff Reed booted a 36 yard Field Goal and the Steelers added to their lead and made the score 10-3. Both teams went 3 and Out on their next drives until Vince Young made another horrible mistake. With the Titans around midfield, Young threw another INT, this time to LaMarr Woodley, by making an idiotic decision against the zone blitz. How he didn’t see Woodley I have no idea, but he fired it right to the guy! Unfortunately, Pittsburgh couldn’t do anything with the INT and they were forced to punt it back to Tennessee.
Disaster almost struck when Chris Johnson appeared to have scored on an 85 yard TD run on the ensuing possession, but Eugene Amano was flagged for Holding, the play was negated, and the Titans were forced to punt again. When they got the ball back again, Johnson made a critical error by fumbling after Lawrence Timmons hit him, and James Harrison recovered the loose ball at the Tennessee 23 yard line! The Steelers appeared to have scored a TD when Charlie Batch, who replaced Dixon, threw a pass to Mike Wallace, but the play was nullified by a Jonathan Scott hold. Gee where have I seen that before? Anyways, the Steelers couldn’t punch the ball in, and Jeff Reed nailed his 2nd Field Goal of the day on a boot from 34 yards and the Steelers took a 13-3 lead into Half Time.
The 3rd Quarter was a total Defensive struggle, and both teams showcased their awesome units. Granted the Steelers had their 4th string QB in the game, but the Titans Defense held firm and didn’t allow the Steelers to pad their lead. The Steelers on the other hand were manhandling Vince Young and making him look like a 5 year old out there. It was truly hilarious watching him try to decipher what was really going on out there that day. He was running for his life and was just so damn confused. Young left the game after getting dropped on his head (as shown in the picture) and fumbling the ball which was recovered by Steve McLendon at the Tennessee 35 yard line.
To his credit, Batch rallied his troops at the end of the 3rd Quarter and managed to drive the Steelers inside the Tennessee 10 yard line after the fumble recovery. Yet again the Steelers’ Offense stalled, and Reed had to kick his third Field Goal of the day, and the 25 yarder put the Steelers up by a 16-3 margin early in the 4th Quarter. Now with graybeard Kerry Collins entering the game, the Pittsburgh Defense really pinned their ears back and went for the kill.
The Steelers Deffense responded with another takeaway (they had 7 that day), and Bryant McFadden’s INT at the Pittsburgh 46 had the Steelers in business again. But with great field position, Arians had Batch sit on the ball and the Steelers gave it right back to the Titans after a 3 and out. After both Offenses kept stalling, the Steelers caught another break when LaMarr Woodley sacked Collins and made him fumble. Chris Hoke recovered the ball at the Tennessee 15 and the game appeared to be sealed. But the Steelers went 3 and out again and Jeff Reed booted a 27 yard Field Goal, and the Steelers were ahead 19-3 with 4:59 remaining in the game. All signs pointed to a Steelers’ victory, but Kerry Collins didn’t see it that way.
Playing in their Prevent Defense, the Steelers were victimized by the savvy veteran play of Collins who drove the Titans 85 yards to a TD. Collins carved the Steelers on a 17 play 4 minute drive with short passes and took advantage of the off coverage. The best play of the drive for the Steelers however came when Polamalu leaped over the L.O.S. and tackled Collins short of the goal line right after the snap. The picture is just below here and it is right before he threw himself over the line. The typical controlled chaos that only Troy could create. Collins rebounded though and when he hit former Steeler Nate Washington on a 2 yard TD pass, and he hit Kenny Britt with the 2-point conversion, the Steeler lead stood at 19-11 with just under a minute to play.
Tennessee proved they weren’t dead when Collin Allred recovered a Bironas onside kick that Will Allen could not handle. The Titans had 58 seconds left and stood 68 yards away from tying the game. Things got testy when Collins hit Justin Gage on a 30 yard pass, but the Steelers Defense held firm and Chris Johnson was tackled by Lawrence Timmons in bounds and time ran out on the Titans that day. The Steelers escaped with a 19-11 win and moved to 2-0 on the season without Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing that made me angry about this game was the absolutely terrible Red Zone play-calling by Bruce Arians and the lackluster execution by the Steeler Offense inside the 20 as well. Had the Defense not been so on that day and intent on destroying Vince Young, or a halfway competent QB been in there, 19 points probably wouldn’t have been enough to win. Vince Young would never be “the man” again for the rest of his career with the Titans. This game truly exposed his limitations as a player and really sent Tennessee’s season into a tailspin. It makes a hell of a lot of sense that they would go out and get a veteran like Matt Hasselbeck and draft Jake Locker, because as this game illustrated, Vince Young would not lead them to the promised land.