December 30, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (43) runs onto the field during player introductions against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers managed to salvage their season so they can claim another “winning” season for Mike Tomlin, but it was hardly an offensive performance to be proud of. I guess I shouldn’t complain and I’m glad the defense managed to hold the Cleveland Browns third-string quarterback from managing many scoring drives. When you compare the overall offensive stats, it is mind-boggling that the Steelers won:
Rushing Yards 91 128
Passing Yards 121 182
I honestly hoped for a dominant performance from the Steelers to put an exclamation point on an inconsistent season and salvage some dignity. However, I don’t feel that happened. After the game I was still shaking my head – that wasn’t Steeler football.
I watched all but the last 5 minutes of the game from a local sports bar in southern Georgia because I don’t get the game on the local channels. I noticed the stands were bare looking and decided the terrible weather probably accounted for a good portion of that. Then I noticed I was the only person cheering for the Steelers in that bar. Normally, there are several tables of Steelers fans around me. I guess it is a sign of the disappointing season.
While I feel you can never point the finger at a single person on a team, I do want to make some points about a lackluster offense. At least twice I thought I saw Roethlisberger look at the sidelines with a “You must be joking” look on his face. Maybe I am channeling my own disappointment here, but he definitely wasn’t giving a sharp “Got it” nod.
My overall impression during the game can be summed up in one word: Repetition. If it worked once, while not try it again right away? I was getting frustrated to see Dwyer and Mendenhall repeatedly get the ball and fewer yards during each run. I was thinking of calling my post for today “Run, run, pass.” However, once I looked at the possessions, I really couldn’t back up my perception. Yet, something wasn’t clicking. It just looked off many times.
The Steelers only 3rd Quarter possession was their longest possession. It started at their own 20 yard line and ended with a TD. There was some repetition during this drive with Dwyer’s runs where twice he ran in back-to-back plays but gained fewer yards on the second run. However, Roethlisberger threw for 6 of the 13 plays on that drive, completing 3 times so the pass wasn’t working either on that drive. I guess something must have been working because they scored.
For the day, Roethlisberger’s stats weren’t bad but they weren’t spectacular. He was 15 for 23 with 3 TDs and no interceptions. However, the difference in the game was (again) the defense. The Steelers’ defense/Cleveland offense gave the Steelers a belated Christmas present. The Steelers scored two of their three TDs from Cleveland fumble recoveries. One TD resulted after taking over at the Cleveland 24 yard line and the other was from a fumble recovery at the Cleveland 27. The Steelers offense helped themselves with good ball security and not giving Cleveland any opportunities from fumbles or interceptions. At least there is something good besides a “W.”
I’m glad this season is over for the Steelers because maybe they can focus on what they need to fix for 2013. I’m not saying that Todd Haley needs to go, but somehow, he and Roethlisberger need to find common ground. It seems to be (purely speculative of course) that there might be a bit of a standoff between them. Life is about change and growing to meet different situations. Believe me, Roethlisberger will see that as he watches his son grow and realizes how little control he really has in life. Maybe that will help him figure out his personal way ahead to succeed as a quarterback. Haley also needs to realize that Roethlisberger can bring something to the table. I suspect the answer is somewhere in the middle, but I don’t really care. They need to figure it out. The Steelers need to figure it out.
So, as the Steelers ride off into the glow of the end of their season with a win, they really shouldn’t savor this one for long. There is a lot of work to do during the off season. If Cleveland and Cincinnati continue their uphill climb, this will be a tough division. Come Steelers, pull your collective heads out of the sand. There is talent on this team and a lot to be proud of. Figure out what the missing ingredients are and move forward!