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mouth. But at least Steelers Nation 
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Post mouth. But at least Steelers Nation
While plenty of excuses can be cited for the performance we witnessed by the Steelers on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Mike Mitchell Color Rush Jersey , the harsh truth is that this undoubtedly was their worst overall effort of the season, despite escaping with a 20-16 victory. Todd Haley might be gone, but the Steelers’ offense wasn’t any more creative — and even less effective — against the Jaguars’ offense on Sunday than they had been during their two costly defeats by Jacksonville last season. In fact, if not for the absolutely abysmal Jaguars’ offense led by Blake Bortles (10/18, 104 yards, 28.3 QBR), Jacksonville would have won this game handily.As he sometimes appeared last season, Ben Roethlisberger looked totally rattled by the Jaguars’ defense. He misfired on a number of easy throws to his receivers and nearly matched his five-interception debacle during the 2017 regular season at Heinz Field — throwing three interceptions, while having two more nullified by Jacksonville penalties. Ben also missed some wide-open receivers, throwing instead into heavy coverage. After notching a perfect quarterback rating last week versus the Carolina Panthers, Ben finished the game in Jacksonville with a pathetic 37.7 QBR, along with taking two sacks and averaging only 6.7 yards per completion. While Ben’s play during the closing minutes of the fourth quarter — plus his game-winning lunge over the goal line with only three seconds remaining — was somewhat redeeming, it hardly washed away the smell of what we had witnessed through nearly three quarters of the game. How bad was the Steelers’ offense? They converted only three of 11 third-down situations and were 0-2 on fourth-down attempts. James Conner finished the day with only 9 carries for 25 yards (2.8-yard average). Conner also dropped a couple of passes that Ben tossed right into his hands, including one that looked like a sure touchdown and a second one that stalled a drive and forced a punt. While both Antonio Brown (117 yards) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (104 yards) broke the century mark in receiving yardage, they generally had lots of difficulty getting open during the game — with the exception of some deep passes which padded their totals. The Steelers’ defense looked a bit suspect during the first half, but they kept the game close and still had enough left in the tank to stuff the Jaguars on crucial possessions late in the final quarter. They sacked Bortles six times and pressured him continually throughout the game. Vince Williams had another solid game, leading the defense with 10 tackles including six solo stops, one sack and one tackle for loss. T.J. Watt and Javon Hargrave chipped in two sacks apiece. Lost MomentumAfter the Steelers’ huge win over Carolina at Heinz Field, it seemed that the team had finally hit its stride. And considering the two embarrassing defeats Pittsburgh had suffered at home to the Jaguars last season, the expectation was that the Black-and-gold would come out strong in Florida and take the game to Jacksonville. But through nearly three quarters of football, the Steelers were totally listless and never got untracked. Only the Jaguars’ utter incompetence in taking advantage of scoring opportunities spared the Steelers an embarrassing defeat.It’s tempting — and probably wrong — to simply claim that Pittsburgh doesn’t match up well against Jacksonville. We might also use the excuse that we were playing a desperate team on the verge of losing any chance it had to reach the playoffs. But in reality, the Steelers were pretty darned awful in some key phases of their game — shortcomings which very well might haunt them later this season. Perhaps most obvious is the offense’s lack of creativity in situations where the opposing defense takes away their preferred plays. For a large portion of the game in Jacksonville, Ben looked quite jumpy in the pocket because the Jaguars were covering the very same pass routes that had worked like a charm against Carolina’s depleted secondary in the previous week. Even in victory, this game demonstrates quite plainly that the Steelers continue to suffer from a couple of negative tendencies that could really hurt them in the playoffs. First is their tendency to start games sluggishly and not find their offensive rhythm until late in the first half, or even the second half. This tendency is what cost them the playoff game in Pittsburgh last January and it also could be fatal when playing teams with high-powered offenses. Secondly, the aforementioned inability of the Steelers to adjust their offensive game plan when their primary weapons are taken away could be equally dangerous in January football. It was especially troubling to see Big Ben looking feverishly downfield throughout a large portion of Sunday’s game before he chucked the ball into heavy coverage. When Ben is having his better games, you generally don’t see that. Of course, given the win, they say you’re never supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth. But at least Steelers Nation ought to realize it was largely the work of the football gods — not so much anything the Black-and-gold did on the gridiron — which enabled the Steelers to return from Florida riding a 6-game winning streak. And lest we forget, we were matched up against a 3-6 (now 3-7), last-place Jaguars team which these days is only a shadow of their 2017 selves. So while I’m as pleased as anyone with the fortuitous outcome on Sunday, this game represents a definite step backward for the Black-and-gold. The kind of collective lapse we witnessed throughout nearly three quarters in Jacksonville simply cannot be repeated when January rolls around , if this team is to have any hope for securing a Super Bowl berth. If there’s anything positive to be gleaned from this game (besides, of course, the win), maybe it will provide a much-needed dose of humility, plus a reminder that everyone in the organization needs to work harder to reach their ultimate goal. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won three straight games, and have finally started to “stack wins”. After their 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, the team has to move on from the win quickly as they now prepare for the Baltimore Ravens, on the road, in Week 9. Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-gold Links article. This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article. Today we talk about whether, after winning three games in a row, the Steelers have turned the corner and are now on their way to living up to the hype which surrounded them when the season began. This was before their dreadful month of September, followed by a resurgence, and undefeated, October.Let’s get to the news:Tim Benz: Resilient Steelers show they might be up to the hype after allBy: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewDuring the Steelers’ season opener at Cleveland, a two-score lead in the second half dissolved into an ugly tie.It all started with one huge mistake.In the rematch at Heinz Field, the same potential existed. Except this time the Steelers took a mistake and shoved it right back at Cleveland en route to a 33-18 victory.“That’s what we want to do as a football team,” linebacker T.J. Watt said. “Make the corrections we need to make. Don’t make the same mistake twice.”Leading 21-7 in the fourth quarter of Week 1, running back James Conner fumbled. That turnover was followed by a slew of strip sacks, blown coverages, missed tackles, botched blocks, bad routes and missed kicks.The Steelers came unglued.Only the Browns’ ineptitude prevented the Steelers from starting 0-1.On Sunday, the Steelers suffered another epic blunder after the Browns yielded a safety at the 8-minute, 7-second mark of the third quarter. Leading 16-6, the Steelers allowed the ensuing free kick to lie on the field until Cleveland recovered it. Returner Ryan Switzer became confused when Roosevelt Nix called for a fair catch but left him to field the ball.The Browns recovered. A few plays later, they scored a touchdown. That closed the gap to 16-12 after a missed extra point.That bad Steelers team in early September crumbled after hitting a pothole. The first-place Steelers in late October rolled right over it.“In a boxing match, even the best boxer gets hit a few times,” defensive end Stephon Tuitt said. “You never want to put your head down after they made a couple plays. You just have to keep going.”On the next drive, the Steelers returned to a run game that hadn’t been efficient in the first half. Conner had just 33 yards on 10 carries at halftime. When the Steelers got the ball back, he accounted for 60 yards on four carries Antonio Brown Jersey , including a touchdown to make it 23-12.In the first matchup, Conner struggled after his mistake. The coaching staff eventually gave up on the run game, exposing Ben Roethlisberger to lousy weather and an effective Browns pass rush.On Sunday, the weather was almost as bad, but the results on the ground were remarkably better. Conner finished with 146 yards rushing. He added 66 yards on receptions.As opposed to the opener, the Steelers defense squashed any life the Browns had after they drew closer. The defense forced three straight punts. Two were the result of three-and-out series.After last week’s kerfuffle over who should be running the Browns offense, does anyone else besides Hue Jackson or Todd Haley want to try?Anyone?The Browns’ perceived return to respectability after a 2-2-1 start now appears to be short-lived. However, the Steelers potential return to AFC playoff contention may be picking up steam.“Nothing has really changed,” Conner said of the Steelers’ improvement in recent weeks. “We are just doing our jobs, trying to be a team on the rise.”James Conner takes over Heinz Field, dominates Browns againBy: Jeremy Fowler, ESPNThe spin move to get loose. The stiff-arm in the end zone. The “Con-ner! Con-ner!” chants from the Heinz Field crowd.James Conner is no longer a fill-in, but is a major catalyst for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 season.He can play. He has left little doubt.Conner’s monstrous second half helped seal the Steelers’ 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns and strengthen their position in the AFC North. Over the span of two drives in the third and fourth quarters, Conner gashed the Browns for 95 total yards and a score. The Steelers were reeling after several mental mistakes before Conner spun his way to a 30-yard gain to start a third-quarter scoring drive.“I’m just running hard,” Conner said when asked if he’s getting stronger by the week after compiling 525 yards over a three-game stretch.Conner started the game with 36 yards on 12 carries but finished with an explosive 146 yards on 24 carries along with five receptions for 66 yards. That gives Conner a startling 404 total yards in two games against the Browns.That will do.Steelers players kept pumping up Conner publicly over the last two months, and it was not an empty proposition. They feel strongly about their running back, with or without Le’Veon Bell. He’s ready for AFC North football, and so is an offensive line that has been stellar the last three weeks.“He wants to be that guy,” guard Ramon Foster said of Conner. “He plays with a passion that’s out of this world.”Mike Tomlin made passionate address to Steelers after Pittsburgh shootingBy: Jeremy Fowler, ESPNSteelers coach Mike Tomlin addressed the Pittsburgh shooting with his team Saturday night in what players called a passionate moment.Tomlin told his team he lived close to the Tree of Life Synagogue, where a mass shooting left 11 people dead and several others injured earlier Saturday.”I’m a member of the Squirrel Hill community personally,” Tomlin said after the Steelers’ 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. “Words cannot express how we feel as members of the community. We are prayerful.”Tomlin added he wouldn’t make the moment “about me or us” and is glad to serve the community in a small way with the game. Tomlin estimated he lives about 800 yards from the synagogue.Among the dead were David and Cecil Rosenthal. Their sister, Michele Rosenthal, used to work for the Steelers as a community relations manager.”It was tough. It was crazy tough, especially with Michele and the closeness we have with her,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We’re thankful for the victory, but we also understand there are bigger things -- there’s life. I’m glad we could gift people three hours with a break.”The Steelers held a moment of silence inside Heinz Field before kickoff.”Way bigger than football,” guard Ramon Foster said.Several players issued supportive tweets over the weekend and were proud to take the field for their city.”Tragedy what happened to our city,” running back James Conner, a Pennsylvania native who played college football at Pitt, said after the game. “Today was much bigger than the game of football. Good we got the win to try and uplift spirits and vibes of our city. Our city took a hit today. Our hearts with all the victims and all the victims’ families. We still have them in mind.”Defensive end Cameron Heyward entered the stadium with a T-shirt featuring a heart around the word “Pittsburgh.” Many fans inside Heinz displayed a “Stronger than Hate” sign pairing the Steelers’ logo with the Star of David.

Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:22 am
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