This game had EVERYTHING legendary upsets need to be successful:
If this had been another year, the franchise QB would have been held out after injury, Steelers defense would have given up the goods on that last drive, and the Cowboys would have stormed the field while the dejected Steelers hung their heads in defeat. But it’s not some other year, and this is not that defense. Thankfully.
Oh, and there was one other thing this game had that undid the upset hopes: the guy wearing number 7 for the black and gold.
After falling behind by 13 and being 10 back at the start of the 4th quarter, two touchdown passes, three defensive stands to end the game, and a flying Eric Ebron sealed the team’s 8th straight victory to start the season.
Welcome to your 2020, UNDEFEATED Pittsburgh Steelers!
Earlier this week, two “expert analysts” from Pro Football Focus published a video where they discussed (in apparent seriousness) how the Steelers weren’t the best team in the NFL despite a great defense and a 7-0 record… becasue Big Ben was “holding them back”. They pointed out that Ben was “the 14th, no the 16th best QB in the NFL” and went on to talk about how the Steelers couldn’t be a real contender to win it all with Ben playing this way. They also noted that Kirk Cousins was a better QB than Ben this year. If you’ve read pretty much anything I’ve ever written, you know that I think:
A. Ben has played excellent football this year––so good in the handful of plays each game that are the difference between winning and losing
The Steelers slow starts this season have been as maddening as thier adjustments havd been decisive in turning those moribund starts into victories. Yes, some of it is square-peg-into-round-hole attempts to shoehorn impose-your-will football but a good part of it is lackluster execution. OL isn’t firing off the ball like they do in the 4th quarter. WRs not running sharp routes, QB not making precise throws, RB running tepidly. If I had to summarize it, the phrase would be: thinking too much. From the play calls to the players, they appear to be evaluating rather than attacking, which is a formula to give the other team some confidence early.
I notice we don’t blame Matt Canada for the failures of the run game, only credit him when it succeeds. Where was the misdirection motion on that short-yardage play? Start 3 wide with Claypool in the trips, bring him in motion to threaten the end around, either hand it off then to Conner or pull it back and toss to DJ back where Claypool came from, or hit Claypool with a running start the other way. Three dive plays in a row is still mind-boggling hours after the game.
Before you go ripping the effort of MT’s team in a game that “should have been a blowout”, take a look around. Green Bay lost to the previously 1-5 Minnesota Vikings. Kansas City survived a last second long FG attempt to beat 3-5 Carolina. Seattle just got blown out as a road favorite. Tennesse got waxed by lowly Cincinnati. Hell, Tampa Bay added Antonio Borwn, got Chris Godwin back, and laid an absoultely embarrassing egg in a 35-point loss to New Orleans. Welcome to the NFL!
Oh, and for all those numbskulls complaining that the Cowboys got somehow jobbed by the officials in this game, have a look at the Dallas run game and see the holding at the point of attack. On the early long Pollard run, Vince Williams was grabbed on the outside of his pads and couldn’t get away to make the play. Or perhaps you’d like to see Dallas’ illegal presnap motion on their TD? I’d go as far as: the only obvious bad call that went against Dallas was the personal foul against VanderEsch, which looked a lot worse than it was.
On the trickeration, throwback across the field punt return, there was the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Steelers on that play. The Bad was Benny Snell getting sucked in to the middle and losing his contain lane, the Ugly was that mistake costing 70 yards of field position, and the good was punter Jordan Berry being the first to understand what was happening and running so hard to get the contain that he actually overran the ball. Appreciate the effort, though, from the oft-maligned Berry. But the biggest hat tip goes to Jordan Dangerfield, who––as the last line of defense––got back, got blocked in the back/knocked down, and still reached up and somehow tackled the guy running full speed over top of him. I see you, 3-7!
Bounce backs: Cameron Sutton gave up a big slot fade on the first Dallas possession, but then punched out the ball from receiver CeeDee Lamb just before halftime, in a move that helped lead to the next bounce back from kicker Chris Boswell, who celebrated his return to his hometown with a missed extra point, then bounced back to make a franchise-record 59-yard FG just before halftime. Special shout out to Cam Heyward’s false start that gave Boz a second chance, the Dallas players who missed the 3 points because they idiotically went into the locker room too soon, and especially to the cheer that erupted when the kick went through the uprights. Steelers fans still taking over stadia during pandemics. We are legend.
Speaking of franchise records, I’m hard-pressed to think of a Steelers game where more franchise bests were set:
and then there are all the Ben franchise records…
• most 4th quarter comebacks
Diontae Johnson can be maddeningly inconsistent and oft injured, but you have to take the bad with the good, because the good can be terrific at times. In this game, Johnson ran an out route about 3 yards too long on the opening possession, he didn’t look back for the ball on a short crosser, he seemed to be in the wrong place and confused in the no-huddle… and then he made a spectacular cut to turn a simple short route into a big gainer on what proved to be the game-winning drive. You need that guy out there to make plays, but the cost of it is there are going to be some tough ones to go along with it.
Great thing about this team: I can’t think of s single free agent to be they have this year that I won’t be sorry to see go. If there were no cap, I’d be re-signing everybody. What a roster put together by Colbert and this team’s brain trust. No more Ryan Switzers.
Add it all up and you get 8-0 for the first time in team history. Think about how great they could be if only Ben wasn’t holding them back. A1