First off, let me give you all my sincere apologies for getting this up so late. I had to watch the game on NFL Rewind because I don't get NBC at the house. They had some serious problems getting the games up after the Sunday night game so I didn't get to watch until Tuesday....then I got sick as a dog and have been for 2 days now.
Of course I couldn't stay away from MHR and other sites that talked about the game for that long, so the interesting thing about this review is that I had a heads-up on some things to look for. I typically don't like that, but it led to me finding one big load of Bull that I may not have caught otherwise.
- Running game notes; There were quite a few cut back lanes open that were not taken advantage of by either Willis or Knowshon that I saw in the first half. Later in the game they weren't there, but that was okay because the main running lanes were getting blown wide open consistently. I thought our O-line did a fairly solid job in this area against a superb defense.
- Willis McGahee's fumble was some serious weak-sauce. He clearly didn't have a solid grip on the ball and was already in traffic when it happened. I'd hope he'd clean that up as I haven't seen such poor ball handling from him in the past. Other than that, he really seemed to get stronger as the game went on. His TD catch was very solid.
- Another note of abnormal play: Knowshon early on a 3rd down completely failed at his blitz pick-up.
- DT's early screen I thought was a bad play - the coverage was too tight and they didn't have another WR out by him assigned to block his man. Later we got exactly what we wanted though...off zone coverage with a play designed to get blockers out there. Easy 6 points all day...Thomas is too strong, too fast, and too good in space.
- Stokely seriously looks good. I've always liked his game and he isn't showing any signs of age slowing him down. His report with Manning is spot on and showed early in the game.
- Our tight ends both looked very good to me. They both showed solid skills catching passes in serious traffic with soft hands. Tamme obviously went into beast mode as the game went on. He was uncoverable for the most part. I'm glad to see it as in the preseason I didn't see much from him. His TD catch was a perfect example of a big guy making himself a wall so the QB has a clear spot he can safely throw to for an easy score.
- Beadles was up and down on his play. He looked superb on the DT screen getting down the field with perfect timing. Later he'd get destroyed on a run play. I still think "meh" when I see this guy.
- Manning: This guy looked superb. It was a real joy to watch him just pick apart the defense and be pretty much unstoppable for 3 quarters of play (imagine what he would have done if our defense could have gotten themselves off the field!). One knock on him - that long sideline pass to Tamme was about the most awful form I've ever seen a QB use...it was just atrocious from the feet up. His cat and mouse game with Polamalu was hilarious.
- Ball - if you give him a hole where the play is designed to go, he makes a good run. If you don't, he is oblivious as to his cut back lane and gets stuffed. Ugh I don't like this guy!
- I liked the play calls for the most part throughout the game. Obviously we got really hot once we went no-huddle. The big thing here to me is that the coaches let them stick with it. My concern with this type of play though is how bad we wear down our defense. If we continue to march down the field in short order and score then you don't give them much of a breather.
- I think people are going to really like the Wolfe draft pick as time goes on. This kid showed some really impressive stuff in his first NFL game. He had a run stop and a sack that showed very impressive burst speed and strength. If you sack Roethlisburger by the ankle, you have a tremendous grip.
- The run defense was superb all game long really. Pittsburgh is one of the premier running teams and our guys were swarming them to limit the yardage they got. Here's the one problem that showed up 3-4 times: End contain was just awful. We'd get the lanes stuffed, but had no one in position to stop the bounce outside. This will most likely be a focus during the week in preparation for the Falcons.
- I saw a lot of sloppy tackling this game...it was really reminiscent of the 2008 Broncos....arm tackles and whiffs all around.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Broncos were blitzing in the first half. They didn't do it much on 3rd down (Only 1 if I recall correctly), but they did try to blitz. It didn't work because every time they tried it, Pittsburgh was blocking it perfectly. As the game went on it started working because we got a little more creative and their O-line was obviously getting worn out.
- News flash: Slants inside the red zone still don't work against Bailey. That seriously cracked me up that they even tried. Enjoy your wasted down Pitt!
- Porter was a man on a friggin mission. He saved a TD, got a pick 6, and was THE most impressive CB not named Champ Bailey that I've seen donning the Blue and Orange in at least a decade. If he keeps playing like this we have GOT to get him signed to a long-term deal.
- Unrein was forced into action for a lot of snaps due to us losing Warren. I'm pretty proud of the guy. He was a solid contributor to our run defense and looked like a player to me (I noticed he consistently seemed to be winning his battle on the line).
- Worst move in the off season other than signing Caleb Hanie: Extending Mays. This kid is not showing anything better than being a run stuffing LB. He stinks in coverage...he actually did a spin deep down the field on one play which looked AWFUL and cost us a big catch. His sack was monstrous though. Here's what I do if I'm forced to keep Mays on the field during a passing down: Blitz him. He's a liability in coverage, so have him do something that can be helpful.
- Von Miller looks to me like one of the quickest guys on the field when he isn't injured. Man that kid has some jets!
- Our safeties looked a lot better than in recent years. Moore was really close to an INT. Adams showed some very good coverage skills on a couple of different plays. It is really refreshing to not mention the safeties as a liability.
- The best thing I can say is that they didn't cost either team the game with their stupidity.
- They still suck though...much worse than the regular officials. Tools like Peter King are being mouth-pieces for the NFL saying they didn't see anything worse than normal. I call BS on that completely. These guys are awful and don't know half of what they should.