Well, a win is a win right? And in week 11 there were an awful lot of down to the last second games played. A lot of heart attacks felt by fans as their team either won or lost in the last few seconds of the game. But that is part of the fun right? Anywho, let’s take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers week 11 performance and see what we can pick out of it shall us?
An Achilles heel?
Every team has that team that they just don’t seem to have an answer for, or that team that on paper looks like they should walk all over them. Then during the game they look like a second string varsity high school team. This happens frequently when the Steelers play the Jacksonville Jaguars. Granted the Jaguars are not the worst team in the NFL, but they certainly aren’t the strongest either. They have many strong points but they don’t always use them to their advantage.
Last year Ben Roethlisberger had the worst game of his career against the Jaguars. Throwing five interceptions and not being able to make any solid connections with his star receivers. It was a game that made many question whether his best games were behind him. Although no one questioned it more than himself. Roethlisberger has always been one of his toughest critics. But instead of letting that game and the championship game effect week 11 of 2018. He made adjustments and kept pushing forwards.
A Strong Defense
One of the biggest keys to week 11’s win was the performance of the Pittsburgh defense. Even though ultimately the Jaguars were ahead at one point 16-0. The defense kept the first half score to only nine points, when they could have easily scored 21 if the defense didn’t stop them. This kept the Steelers close enough in score and mentality that they didn’t quit or give up.
The biggest threat from the Jaguars wasn’t Blake Bortles arm as he was kept to a small stat day of 10-18 with only 104 yards. Running back Leonard Fournette was a more dangerous threat as he tried to run through the defense and ended up with 95 total rushing yards and a touchdown. However, even he was able to be controlled by the strength of the Steelers’ defense.
Football is all Four Quarters
Week 11 had many close games proving what many coaches try to drill into their players heads. You have to play the full 60 minutes. You can’t get overconfident. Also, you can’t underestimate the strength of your opponent to fight their way back. Now, of course there are times when you can let your guard down. Last week when the Steelers were so far ahead they sat Roethlisberger and other starters, you could say that is relaxing. However, NFL games can change momentum in a heartbeat. In week 11 that change came in the fourth quarter for the Steelers.
Whatever switch needed to be turned on was obviously hit in the fourth quarter. The Steelers finally woke up and started putting points on the board. That switch was thrown by way of a 78 yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown to wake the team up. After that, the defense and Steelers’ fans who made it to Florida woke up even more and kept the momentum going.
Time is a Factor
Now that they had the energy to score, they had to make sure they had the time to do it. The problem with a fourth quarter comeback is you have to watch your clock management. Something not every team has mastered, though the Steelers have a pretty good hurry up offense. After scoring their second touchdown on a pass to Vance Mcdonald, they pulled within three points. With only 2:28 on the clock, time was of the essence.
Making the decision to kick the ball away instead of going for an onside kick showed the confidence coach Mike Tomlin has in the defense to get the Jaguars off the field quickly to give the offense a chance to tie the game. They delivered. The Jaguars went three and out using only 46 seconds, leaving the Steelers with a little less than two minutes to get into field goal distance.
Why Tie When You Can Win?
Keeping their one time out in their back pocket, Roethlisberger and company worked their way down the field. They got into field goal range on a 35 yard pass to JuJu Smith Schuster. They were not content to run out the clock and just tie the game to go into overtime. The Steelers kept pushing, almost losing the ball on an apparent interception by D.J. Hayden that was negated by a face mask penalty.
The next pass was incomplete but yet another penalty moved the Steelers to the one yard line. Time was certainly the issue now as there was only eight seconds left in regulation. Taking the snap, Roethlisberger looked to make a quick toss for the TD but with no one open. He amazingly decided to run it in himself. He put his body in danger as he dove headfirst into the end-zone. Using his height advantage to be able to break the plane before his knee hit the ground. Putting the Steelers ahead with five seconds left.
Nerve wracking as it was, there was still a small chance the Jaguars could pull off the miracle play and get a touchdown in one play which is certainly not impossible. However, when you have a man like T.J. Watt on your defense, it certainly helps. Watt sacked Bortles and recovered the fumbled ball to end the game. This clinched the comeback for the Steelers. It also marked their sixth win in a row.
The Steelers have shown us again that not only do they have many weapons at their disposal to win a game. They have the heart and soul to push forward even when it seems like they have no chance for a comeback. At halftime, many people had written this game in the loss column and were ready to look ahead to next week.
A combination of great coaching, a strong leader in Roethlisberger and a team that has the focus and drive to win brought them back from the brink. Also, having fans that travel so well and the show off so many terrible towels in the stands certainly helped. Off to week 12. Here we go.
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