Pittsburgh Steelers Defeat Green Bay Packers: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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The Bad

Clock Management (AGAIN!) – This is a theme that I don’t like very much.  Once again, Tomlin and Co. must be called out for their poor clock management during the game.  The first offense occurred late in the first half.  The Steelers were moving the ball very well after E. Sanders’ 46 yard kick return.  They looked poised to answer the Pack’s score with one of their own.  The Steelers took timeout #2 with :40 on the clock after Jerricho Cotchery went for nine yards and one yard short of the first down.  The next play out of the timeout was a ten yard run up the middle by Bell for a first down at the Packers 13 yard line.  Instead of spiking the ball with a fresh set of downs or even calling a timeout, the call was to keep the clock running and continue to throw dump passes.  Ben threw an incomplete pass to Cotchery and burned :17 seconds off the clock by the time the ball was placed, snapped and incomplete.  It was infuriating.  Now with only :16 seconds left on the clock, the play selection became limited, and the Steelers eventually settled for a field goal.

Dec 22, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin reacts during the game against the Green Bay Packers in the 4th quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The second offense came at the end of the game when the Steelers were knocking on the door of the endzone with 1:25 left in the game. The Steelers were awarded a fresh set of downs because of a neutral zone infraction by the Packers during a field goal attempt with 1:36 left to play.  From the five yard line, the Steelers ran Bell and started the clock.  The Packers used their last timeout with 1:28 left on the clock.  Instead of taking a knee to get the clock going again, Tomlin decided to put Ben in the shotgun (the friggin shotgun!!!!) and ran Bell on a draw up the middle.  He scored, but the Packers had 1:25 to try and score.  Tomlin defended his decision by saying he didn’t want to risk a botched snap by his veteran and dependable long snapper Greg Warren.  Uhhh excuse me?  So instead, you put Ben in shotgun (also known as a long snap situation) and then hand off to Bell who fumbled once already at the goal line going the other way.  How is that better than taking a knee then kicking the game winning field goal?  Our friend Dom gives props to Tomlin for sticking to his guns on making that decision, but I think it smells worse than my kids dirty diapers…. after he’s had Thai food.  How could you not take a knee and kick a field goal with one of the best kickers in the game?  It’s baffling, and I can only chalk that up as another one of Tomlin’s piss poor game management choices.

2nd Half Turnovers – The Steelers came out of the locker room with an impressive drive that lead to a touchdown and the lead.  The defense held off the Packers long enough to force a punt, but they were pinned in their own end.  LeVeon Bell fumbled at the 2 yard line, and the Packers recovered.  Actually the Packers put the ball in the end zone, but the refs only awarded the Packers possession after McCarthy’s challenge.  The Pack scored with a Lacy TD and took the lead and momentum again.

Just when the gettin’ was good after the Steelers went up by 10 points late after an offensive score immediately follwed a Cortez Allen Pick 6, Roethlisberger turns the ball over with an interception to AJ Hawk.  Am I the only one to say that just as that series started, I was thinking to myself, “Something doesn’t feel right.  I bet you something ‘bad’ happens here”?  Boom.  Interception.  Luckily for the Steelers, they were able to overcome both of these turnovers.  But, that kind of stuff can be huge game changers if you let it.

Honorable mention: Tackling at the second level.  P-U.