STEELERS GAME RECAP: The Men Who Stare at Coates


The Steelers got off to their first 3-1 start since 2010 by wiping away the bad feelings from the Eagles game with a thrashing of the Chiefs last week. The storyline coming into this game was the plethora of injuries that the Steelers had suffered over the last few weeks. Two roster moves were made this week just so the team could field 46 relatively healthy bodies in jerseys. The matchup that concerned everyone was third string offensive tackle Chris Hubbard getting the start against the Jets defensive line that is loaded with first round picks. Credit where it is due, not only did Hubbard have a good game and hold his own, but the coaching staff put players in positions to make plays and take the Jets line out of the game.

First Quarter

The Steelers won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Jets came right out throwing the ball, working the middle of the field against the Steelers. Last week, Fitzpatrick turned some heads by saying if he saw Brandon Marshall one-on-one with Richard Sherman he would throw the ball to Marshall every time. The Steelers countered that by having Ross Cockrell shadow Marshall one-on-one. The Jets exploited that matchup all the way down the field. Cockrell got called for a defensive pass interference which put them in the red zone but redeemed himself by breaking up a 3rd down pass intended for Marshall. The Jets led off the scoring with three, though.


Getting threes in the red zone isn’t going to last long against the Steelers. On third and 7, Ben went deep and hit a wide open Sammie Coates in stride streaking down the sideline with two Jets defenders in trail. They weren’t going to catch him and Coates cruised into the end zone for a huge 72-yard score, his first NFL TD.




The Jets complete their first pass of the season to a tight end and were able to pick up a few first downs and get into Steelers territory. Brandon Marshall had another catch but then dropped a third down pass that hit him right in the hands and would’ve got the Jets into field goal range. The Jets nearly pinned the Steelers back at the 1 but the refs correctly called that the gunner who downed the ball didn’t reestablish himself in the field of play after going into the end zone, so it was a touchback.

From there, it became the AB and Le’Veon show as they carried us out to midfield. From there, the drive got set back by a holding penalty and the Steelers couldn’t recover but pinned the Jets inside their 20 thanks to a good punt from Berry.

Second Quarter

The Jets got into a third and 1 and Matt Forte had his only impactful run of the day, getting around the corner and taking it 28 yards down the sideline and out to midfield. The Jets got to the finge of field goal range but Anthony Chickillo came through with the first sack of his career.


A bit of an embarassing moment as Larry Richert, the Heinz Field stadium announcer, mis-pronounced Chickillo’s name after his first career sack.


The Jets completed two short passes to get back into field goal range but the defense kept them short of the sticks and forced a 48-yard field goal.


With the offense getting into rhythm, the Steelers started to execute their game plan. Everyone clearly knew coming into the game that the strength of the Jets defense was in their defensive line. Rather than just running Le’Veon Bell into the teeth of the defense, Todd Haley did a good job scheming ways to take the Jets line out of the game. Bell was wide open all game on swing passes out of the backfield that got him in space on the outside, and Ben was also to find him on check-downs in front of the linebackers but behind the defensive line. The Steelers worked the ball down the field and into field goal range. On 3rd and 2, Ben tried to go 15 yards downfield for Coates but the pass was off. Tomlin sent out the field goal team for a 46-yard attempt but called the fake and Jordan Berry tried to run with it. Jets backup corner Rontez Miles (of Woodland Hills high school and California University of PA) tracked down Berry and knocked the ball out.


I had this same complaint against the Ravens last year. If you’re not going to kick the ball, at least put your offense out there. If you want to go for it, put the ball in Ben or Le’Veon’s hands rather than your punter’s hands. Also, two attempts to get two yards and neither go to Brown or Bell?

The Jets took advantage of the good field position and drove right into Steelers territory with Fitzpatrick hitting Enunwa and Marshall over the middle to get into the red zone. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick threw one up for Marshall in the end zone and the ball went right through Ross Cockrell’s hands and Marshall was able to tip it to himself and come down in bounds.



Instead of being up 10-6 and kicking off, we were down by 3 because of a terrible coaching decision.

Ben got the ball back with two minute left and worked it to Le’Veon to get us across the 40 then hit AB over the middle to get to midfield. Le’Veon and AB took us down into field goal range. Ben finds Xavier  Grimble wide open (because the Jets don’t know how to cover tight ends, more on this in a minute) to get us down to the 20. Ben takes a shot for Sammie on a post but Coates can’t hang on to the ball. Sammie redeems himself on the next play by hauling in a pass, stiff-arming a Jets defender and taking it all the way down inside the 5. At this point there was still about 50 seconds on the clock and the logical thing to do would be to run the ball to take some time off so the Jets wouldn’t have much to work with.


Nope, we’re gunslinging. Ben misses Wheaton in the back of the end zone but the Jets take a penalty so it’s first and goal from about the 1 1/2 yard line. Run the ball? NOPE. Ben finds Coates open across the middle but he drops another pass that hits him right in the hands (in Sammie’s defense, he took 17 stitches in his hand at halftime, so that might partially explain the two drops this drive). On the next play, the Jets bracket AB at the top and the other half of the Jets defense tries to chase Le’Veon out of the backfield, leaving Jesse James about 20 yards wide open in the middle of the field.



That’s 3 TDs in the last 4 games for James. Steelers fans are creatures of habit and still do the “HEEEEEATH” chant when Jesse catches a pass, because why not. Jesse does the “stick his arms out” thing when he scores, but he really needs to adopt this as his TD celebration.


The Jets got the ball back with 45 seconds and a timeout because of some poor clock management by the Steelers, but decide to give up and just run the ball once then head to the locker room. Okay, then.

Third Quarter

The Jets did a very good job double-teaming AB all game, but he still got his looks. Ben hit AB to get us out across the 40 but the offense couldn’t do much else. Ben stared down AB on a 3rd down out route that almost got picked off and turned into 6 the other way if not for a good play by AB to get his hand in and break up the pick.

Another good punt by Jordan Berry pinned the Jets inside the 20 and Timmons and Moates combined for a 3rd down sack that forced a 3-and-out.


AB finally got a shot with some field in front of him to actually return a punt and dashed through the Jets coverage, nearly breaking it to the house but getting brought down when he tried to cut around a defender. The Steelers were set up in field goal range anyways and Ben went right after the Jets, throwing one up for Coates who couldn’t come down with the ball in the end zone. In the situation, it was a good play call to take a shot there and the Jets couldn’t cover Coates all game. The Steelers didn’t do much with it and Boswell connected to extend the lead.



The teams traded 3-and-outs again with the Steelers winning the special teams and field position battle thanks to a 20-yard return by AB and Jordan Berry continuing his unreal year of punting.

The Jets were able to pick up a few first downs and work their way out to midfield. They got into Steelers territory (for the only time in the second half!) and ran one play, which was a loss of 1 by Forte. That knocked them back to midfield. For a game that was 14-13 at halftime, the Steelers defense put forth a heck of an effort in the second half to only allow the Jets to run one play on their side of the 50.


Things got moving when Ben found Jesse “HEEEEATH” James across the middle since the Jets still refused to cover him. Le’Veon continued to get work in the short passing game that took the Jets D-line out of the game and moved the ball into Jets territory. Ben got a free play on the edge of field goal range thanks to the Jets jumping offsides and hit Sammie Coates (who was ran open through the secondary all day) who made a back-pedaling catch to move us down into the red zone. Ben found Wheaton over the middle to get down to the 5 as the quarter expired.

Fourth Quarter

Given the way the fourth quarter went, it’s hard in retrospect to remember how close the game was after 45 minutes of play. It was still a 4-point game at this point. Ben changed that quickly by zipping a ball on a frozen rope in between defenders to AB across the middle.


No fancy dance this time, because the NFL hates fun.


The defense held the Jets to a third and long that it seemed like they picked up on a short pass to a running back, but the ref marked it down short of the line to gain. In real time, it looked like he had it and Todd Bowles challenged. John Parry looked at the replay for about 2 seconds under the hood, saw that the knee was down before the line to gain, and upheld the call on the field. In reality, they probably should’ve moved the ball back about a half yard from where it was spotted, but that was a great call by the side judge on the field in real time to see the knee was down and get the spot right.


A bad punt set the Steelers up with good field position and passes to James, AB and Wheaton got us quickly back into the red zone. Unfortunately, Ben got the ball knocked out of his hand by Leonard Williams (who therefore got credit for his 5th sack of the season) and the ball popped into the air and fell right into the hands of Jets lineman Sheldon Richardson.

Fitzpatrick hit Marshall again to get out near the 40 but Vince Williams got credit for his second sack in two weeks when he tackled Fitzpatrick behind the line of scrimmage on an attempted scramble.


Vince has played two incredible games in reserve of Shazier, tallying 13 tackles last week and 9 this week. The Jets got into a 3rd and short but Marshall dropped another pass. With 7 and a half minutes left in the game and down by 11, Todd Bowles gave up and decided to punt rather than go for it on 4th and 2 at the 46.


We often talk about bad clock management or questionable calls that Mike Tomlin makes, but this was other-worldly stupid. Bowles is coaching like a guy who wants to get left in Arizona next week when the Jets visit the Cardinals.

The last two weeks were straight blowouts in both directions, but if you recall back to the first two weeks, the Steelers offense put together touchdown drives in the fourth quarter when the team needed to extend the lead. They did it again in this one. How good was this drive? They didn’t even face a third down until they had driven inside the Jets 10 yard line. Le’Veon continued his solid day of work in the short passing game that worked around the Jets D-line and Ben was able to find Coates open a few times with the Jets just watching him run past them. Coates had the big catch at the beginning of the game but showed some development in the rest of his route tree over the rest of the contest. AB drew a pass interference penalty on former Cleveland Brown Buster Skrine that got us to the red zone then made a catch over the middle to get us inside the 10. Todd Bowles continued to lose his bowels on himself and used his second timeout after Le’Veon ran out of bounds.


It didn’t matter. On the next play, Ben hit Coates across the middle for his second touchdown of the game.



Remember when the Jets punted in a 2-score game with 7 1/2 minutes left? The Steelers drove down the field, took nearly 6 minutes off the clock, and extended the lead from 11 to 18. That’s how you close out a damn game.


The Jets pick up one first down and use their last timeout with a minute left. They still can’t get across midfield as the defense shuts it down and Fitzpatrick sucks. On 4th and 10, Fitzpatrick throws a short pass to a running back that loses yardage. LOL.

Landry got to do the victory formation for the second week in a row.


Players of the Game

Offensive Game Ball: Ben Roethlisberger
Defensive Game Ball: Vince Williams

Honorable Mentions:
Sammie Coates
Le’Veon Bell
Antonio Brown
Jesse James
Chris Hubbard
Jordan Berry
Anthony Chickillo
Jarvis Jones

Final Thoughts

  • A week after throwing 5 TDs, Ben comes back with 380 yards and 4 TDs. Another great performance under center.
  • Great job of game-planning by Todd Haley to find ways to take the Jets defensive line out of the game. He worked the swing passes and short option routes to Le’Veon as basically an extension of the running game that got Le’Veon more space to operate and took some of the pressure off the offensive line.
  • Speaking of which, this was a very solid all-around performance by the offensive line, particularly Chris Hubbard who got his first career start at right tackle. They only gave up one sack all day which was when Ben got the ball knocked out of his hand after two pump fakes. For the most part, Ben was clean and didn’t take a lot of big hits either. Shout out to Mike Munchak.
  • Jarvis Jones quietly had a pretty good game. He had a pass deflected and came up with numerous stops in the run game crashing down the line, including on a 3rd and short that got the Steelers off the field. He isn’t making the splash plays or getting the sacks, but he has grown into a decent run defender.
  • After only having 1 sack through 3 games, the Steelers have 7 in the last two weeks after ringing up 3 more this week.
  • Huge game for Sammie Coates. Even outside the 72-yard touchdown he had, the rest of his day featured 5 catches for 67 yards and a score. Of course, 6 catches for 139 yards and 2 TDs is a monster game for Coates.
  • Antonio Brown had a “quiet” 9 catches, 78 yards, and a TD. Brown actually leads the league in receptions after 5 games though since teams have been double-teaming him he hasn’t put up the big explosive plays, he is still getting things done on the offensive end.
  • Another week, another touchdown for Jesse James. He is starting to fill into the passing game quite well as he had 6 catches for 43 yards and a score.
  • Even without Ryan Shazier and Robert Golden (and Cam Heyward getting injured in the middle of the game), the defense was still able to stifle the Jets in the second half.
  • Ross Cockrell was over-matched against Brandon Marshall (and was definitely aided by two big drops) but he didn’t let the completions get to his head. He kept battling with Marshall out there and came up with a few big pass breakups on third downs.
  • The Steelers are the perfect case study for why defensive rankings should not be based on yardage. They have allowed the 8th most yards per game and 7th most yards per play, but are 9th in the league in scoring defense. Only the Eagles have scored more than 16 points against them.
  • Ravens lost. Bengals lost. Steelers are alone in first in the AFC North after five weeks.
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