After re-watching this game a couple times (sober), I've come to realize a few things. One, we didn't play as bad as I thought we did while I was watching that game live. Two, football is a game in which the outcome is greatly influenced by swings in momentum; so if plays present themselves to be made you have to cash in on them. We lost this game largely because of a brutal third quarter where we were sunk by our own failures.
-- After this game ended, I looked at the stat line and was livid. 10-27, 138 yards, and a TD. And that stat line isn't great, but my emotional reaction had more to do with baggage carrying over from prior years than it actually had to do with his performance during that game. Sanchez didn't blow that game. Its more like... he failed to win it. Yes, I know. Semantics. But I do have confidence in him going forward. He just has to clean some things up. After lookng at the game again, he's clearly a much better QB this year. Much more poised, much more in control. Despite what some have said about him maybe being rattled after that hit by Timmons, I didn't get that feeling. He just left a handful of plays on the field that wound up being the difference.
The missed TD to Holmes in the 2nd Q was huge. There's no way around it. It was set up beautifully. It was wide open. It was a chance to take a 14-6 lead over the Steelers
, in their house, and effectively put your foot on their throats. Missing ooportunities like that against good teams, especially on the road, is going to be the difference more times than not. Instead we take a FG and go up 10-6, they get TD, and we go into half down 3 rather than up one and getting the ball back.
In the 2nd Q, he also missed a dump off to Powell on 1st & 10. Basically an innnocuous incompletion. But nevertheless, one that there's no excuse for missing. If he hits that one little pass, who knows what happens. Powell maybe shakes a guy and makes a big play; creating a big shift in momentum. It could've changed the whole possession. At the very least it would have led to a 2nd & 5 rather than a 2nd & 10, which is a much better situation to be in. Its a good playaction shot play down and distance. Or we can just run it on 2nd&5 and pick up 2-3 yards to set up a 3rd & short. Instead the drive fizzled out in a punt.
In the 3rd Q he threw incomplete to a well covered Holmes on 3rd and 16. It was a good ball that could have been completed if Holmes was a little bigger and stronger (or if he at least put up a fight for it) but it got broken up. I didn't like the throw because I think that both Kerley and Gates were better options on the play. The 3 receivers were in a bunch set and Holmes drew all of the coverage when they came out of their breaks. Kerley was wide open on an underneath route that I think had a good shot at a 1st with a catch and run if Sanchez hit him on time and on target. And I think Gates was solo on a safety who looked to have a bad angle when Gates came out of his break; I think Sanchez had a shot to convert, if not a bigger play, if he delivered to Gates rather than Holmes on the play. But in fairness to Sanchez, Holmes was at the stick and I think he delivered a good ball, but Holmes just didn't go get it for his QB.
Also in Q3, after 2nd and 5 drop of a would-be conversion to Holmes, Sanchez badly overthrows Kerley and misses on a 3rd and 5 conversion attempt. Not only was the throw very off, but it was about an hour late. This may seem nitpicky, but it was an easy read and an easy throw. He HAS to make this throw, especially in this spot.
The 3rd Qtr From Hell
The 3rd and 16 TD to Wallace over Cro was killer. That ball should have never been completed. With all the air that ball had underneath it, it should have been picked off. There is absolutely no excuse for Cro to let that one drop in for a TD. I am thoroughly convinced that if we hit that TD to Holmes and we stop the TD that never should have been, that we win this game. You have to make the plays that present themselves.
The Kerley botched punt was also killer. It didn't directly lead to points for the Steelers but it flipped field position. We went from getting the ball near midfield, a couple of completions away from FG range, to getting pinned inside our own 10 after the Steelers chewed up some clock.
Just before the end of the 3rd Q, Malone shanked a punt that was made worse by an illegal touching. So in stead of pinning he Steelers deep, we handed the ball back to them right at the 50. We kind of made up for it by getting an intentional grounding call on Benjamin, and we wound up pushing the Steelers way back into their own territory on the possession. But we eff'd it all up by letting them get 25 yards on 3rd & 33. Yeah, we didn't let them convert. But we gave up a quarter of the field, which they used to pin us inside our own 10 to start the 4th qtr.
If we complete that TD to Holmes in the 2nd Q, and play at least competently in the 3rd Q, we go into the 4th with a 17-13 lead rather than a 20-10 deficit.
Other things of Note
Our coaching staff dropped the ball in this game. Rex lied about all the press coverage our receivers were getting. Simply not true. They released freely for most of the game. The defensive line rotations were terrible. Coples looked good and should have played more. The pass rush was significantly better when he was on the field. Tebow and McKnight both need more touches, or at least to be incorporated into the offense more. Those guys make plays. And only throwing it to Hill twice is downright criminal.
stinks. His vision is crap and his balance is worse, and to top off this doo-doo sundae, he has absolutely no patience. When he not busy missing openings and slamming into his own blockers, Greene likes to lunge into contact off-balanced and immediately fall down. His OL must hate him. He leaves ACRES on the field. And he's absolutely no threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Powell looked decent. Probably because his competence is a breath of fresh air compared to Greene. He can't break a tackle to save his life, but he has some quickness and he can run to daylight. Powell isn't an anvil around the neck of the offense. He can hit the same holes and get the same yards as Greene, but he can also slip a tackle here or there and he can leak out into the flat and catch it cleanly.
McKnight, the guy who made a 12 yard run all by himslef, gets one touch and is sent back to the bench. He's one of the most explosive guys on the team, yet Clyde freakin Gates gets more snaps. Same goes for Tebow, dude gets on the field and rips off 20 and then he's done. EPIC FAIL by the coaching staff.
has apparently discovered the formula for invisiblity.
is a tackle missing machine.
Sione Po'uha is awesome and I'm glad he's back. Wilkerson was especially disruptive with Sione eating up doubles. But as much as I love Sione, his ass needs to be on the bench in passing situations.