Stand Proud, Steeler Nation
So I’ve had three days to let it sink in that my beloved Steelers were “Tebowed.” As all the die-hard members of Steeler Nation know, we take losses pretty hard. But we shouldn’t take this one to heart.. And I have several reasons why. I’m not one for making excuses, the Steelers win as a team and lose as a team.
First let me say hats off to Tim Tebow. I will in no fashion undermine how well he played in that game. The Steelers dared him to throw; not only did he throw, he threw for 316 yards on a mere 10 completions. The irony in this is that Pittsburgh led the league in yards allowed per completions this season, as well as letting up the least amount of plays of 30+ yards.
So where did the Steelers go wrong? I have to wonder why defensive coördinator Dick LeBeau formulated a special game plan for a quarterback who doesn’t even complete half his passes. When Tim Tebow completed four long passes in a disastrous second quarter, I am dumbfounded about why they didn’t abandon the game plan of stacking the box. I believe the Steelers run defense is good enough to not need extra help at the line or bring both safeties up. We saw what happened in that second quarter when they kept bringing both safeties to the line: Ike Taylor was left on an island, there was no pressure on Tebow, and poor Ike was left to be the scapegoat because the defensive scheme was so idiotic.
Throw in the fact that LeBeau made no halftime adjustments even though Tebow proved he could exploit the gameplan, and I am left shaking my head. I will always wonder why they didn’t just play the protocol defense. After all, Tebow doesn’t complete many of his passes, why the HELL would you make it easier for him with outside man coverage and no safety help? Make him throw into confusing coverages, don’t stack the box and let him single out where he’s gonna throw the ball.
Sure I’m not a defensive coordinator, and I do understand the logic of gearing up to stop the run. But when that idea clearly exploits other facets of the defense and makes Tebow look like Tom Brady, let’s switch it up a bit. Yes?
The Steelers also missed safety Ryan Clark in this game. He could be the most underrated defensive player in the NFL. He’s the guy that recognizes formations, switches coverages, and cleans up the mess when Troy Polamalu roams or somebody gets beat in coverage. It really hurt not having their emotional leader and most fundamentally sound player on the field. I have to believe if he’s in that game, those big plays are cut in half.
On to the injuries. Big Ben was 60% at best. Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel were both injured in the first half. Rashard Mendenhall with a torn ACL and Mewelde Moore also sidelined. It’s safe to say the Broncos beat a depleted Steelers team without their quarterback 100%, and Ben Roethlisberger still put them in position to win the ball game. I don’t believe in moral victories, but the Broncos are not the better team.
Looking back, I don’t think Roethlisberger should have played at San Francisco, and definitely not the last week of the season at Cleveland. If Big Ben was 100%, the Steelers beat the Broncos, no question.
We can only hope now that Tim Tebow goes on to do well the rest of the post-season, so this doesn’t turn out to be a one time fluke and the Patriots blow him out of the water. What a waste of a Steeler loss that would be.
Although it is disappointing how the season ended after posting a 12-4 record, I will admit we as Steelers fans have been spoiled. We get so used to winning that it makes losses (especially to a team they should beat) even harder to stomach. I have faith the guys will not forget how this year ended, and will come back next season at full strength to make a deep playoff run.
Until then, let’s not blame Ike Taylor. Let’s not hang our heads. We root the Steelers on when they are winning, and we stand by them in defeat. Stand proud, Steeler Nation. We’ll be back next season.