Anytime you try to break down a game between two good teams there are always two variables that one can never predict, injuries and turnovers. The Green Bay Packers knew of our big injury in the loss of Center Maurkice Pouncey before the game and then they themselves had to deal with them during the game with the loss of Charles Woodson and Donald Driver. The Steelers unfortunately, handled the turnover portion of the two-part equation by committing 3 huge turnovers which the Packers converted into 21 points en route to their 4th super bowl title 31-25 over the Steelers. The breakdown will not be pretty folks and the blame is not isolated to anyone in particular so here goes…
Ben Roethlisberger was not himself last night. His throws were high or wide of the mark and his decision-making looked rushed at times too when I thought that his line was giving him solid protection. This one will sit with Ben for awhile and it should. While he made some great throws to bring the Steelers back twice, he just wasn’t himself and there was no better evidence than the 2-minute drill to end the game which looked more like a Chinese fire drill.
Roethlisberger leaves the field following the bitter 31-25 loss.
Running Backs: B–
Rashard Mendenhall ran hard last night and I would definitely argue that he should have had more than just 14 carries, but when the team got behind, it became understandable to a point. Still thought he should have had more touches. Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman both had significant runs in limited action, but when all is said and done, people will remember Mendy’s fumble more than anything from XLV.
I’m probably being a little harsh on this grade, but with the complete absence of Heath Miller and the inconsistency of Mike Wallace I felt the grade was appropriate. The wily veteran Hines Ward was tremendous and led with his play on the field last night while Mike Wallace at times flashed some brilliance but looked ‘out of it’ too. The Packers did a great job of keeping Wallace hemmed in on the many receiver screens that OC Bruce Arians is so in love with. Wallace was able to get his Super Bowl TD on what may have been Roethlisberger’s best throw of the night. The loss of Emmanuel Sanders allowed Antwaan Randle-El to step in and make some catches, but Sanders speed was sorely missed. I really don’t understand Miller’s absence last night other than he was used at times for extra protection against Clay Matthews (who I thought was quite average last night).
Despite the loss, Ward had nothing to hang his head about last night.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B+
If anyone deserves some praise this morning it’s Offensive Line Coach Sean Kugler who has done more juggling than a circus performer with this mish-mash of banged up warriors. Inserted was Center Doug Legursky making his first start in the Super Bowl of all games and Legursky was solid. The rest of line created some good running room and for the most part and kept the pressure to a minimum on Roethlisberger. No doubt the line could look drastically different next year with questions about Flozell returning and certainly the status of Max Starks health is an issue as well.
Defensive Line B-
With more and more teams becoming pass first teams, playing time for guys like Casey Hampton gets less and less. Green Bay ran the ball about 10 times last night essentially ‘Patrioting’ us the way New England does. That meant fewer minutes for the Big Snack. He Ziggy and Diesel were of course great against the run, but we need more dominance from them as pass rushers. It has become more and more apparent that teams will try to eliminate our outside rushers because they don’t feel threatened by the down 3. These guys were not much of a factor at all last night save for a few moments here and there.
LaMarr Woodley at times was a force, but just not quite able to get to Rodgers while James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior were for the most part non-factors. Timmons gets sideline-to-sideline as well as anyone and Potsie has had a great season, but they were neutralized with the passing game. Harrison recorded a sack on a play where he was on the ground but kept coming which he always does. Their combined play was a real disappointment overall.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: D
Ike Taylor had a pretty good night in retrospect. He really got ‘burned’ only a few times and did a decent job tackling, but was still a huge non-factor. I certainly hope Troy Polamalu was hurting much more than he was letting on because his play in the post-season was not good. He was always a step behind the play and tackled as poorly as I’ve ever seen him. Ryan Clark has been a great Steeler, but we need more speed in the FS position. He just wasn’t able to get to some balls that I felt he should have. Bryant McFadden and William Gay? Gentlemen, seriously, thank you for your contributions to the Steelers but it is time to go. Please.
KICKING GAME: B-
Punter Jeremy Kapinos was solid, but unspectacular and di what he was needed to do. Place Kicker Shaun Suisham was also a good signing this season but I can see us going in a different direction with that job. No one can blame Sushi for the 53-yarder, although it was horrible. It never should have been attempted. Just because a guy is doing it in warm-ups doesn’t mean he will in the game. Kickoffs were surprisingly good for Sushi.
Let us hope the pathetic gameplan installed by OC Bruce Arians is the ticket to his departure. The constant wide receiver screens were atrocious and spoke volumes of a guy who had nothing else in his bag of tricks. No slants, no screens or dump offs to Mendy and if Sanders was out, why not let Antonio Brown go deep a few times? DC Dick LeBeau was working with a sinking ship and should be commended for bringing us as far as he did. Our secondary was exposed against the Pats and Saints this year and Green Bay did the same. I do have to wonder why he did not go with more zone blitzes, especially up the middle. Mike Tomlin may be just the guy we need to get us back to the playoffs next season because he will not tolerate excuses and IMO will already have been working on next season as early as today. His game management still needs work as evidenced by the long FG attempt and the horrible clock management at the end of the game. And when you are trailing, you CANNOT burn timeouts.
Steelers HC Mike Tomlin reflects following the Super Bowl XLV loss.
THE FINAL SPEW SUPER BOWL EDITION:
- Black Eyed Peas were ‘OK’ and I’m being nice. Sound was horrible and the singing once again reminded all of us just how good computers can make any of us sound.
- Christina Aguilera, beautiful voice honey, but learn the damn National Anthem.
- Lea Michele, great job on “America the Beautiful.” Wish you would have stayed out for the Anthem.
- Officiating was a little suspect in the first half, but I thought overall they were a non-factor which is exactly what you want in a Super Bowl.
- From what I hear, Dallas needs to do a helluva lot better the next time they host a Super Bowl. Can’t do a thing about weather, but I hear lines were terrible and hotels were not up to snuff.
- Nice shot of Cameron Diaz feeding A-Rod…. Too bad they BOTH didn’t fall out of their skybox.
Here’s si.com’s take on the Super Bowl commercials. Personally the Darth Vader one was the best…. Super Bowl seen by more Americans than any other TV show period. Not surprised…. With the season over, I won’t be going anywhere. The NFL is a 12-month deal now so look for more coming soon on specific players, the draft, free agency, and the CBA. Thanks to everyone for a great season!