Right off the bat, let me say that he all-out blitz on 3rd and 20 was an awful call. I won’t defend that blitz. But I do want to remind everyone of other bad, costly plays in that game. The sad part is that these mistakes are oh so avoidable.
But before the 3rd-and-30 touchdown occurred, Nick O’Leary blew the game.
We were up 11 points with the ball and only 1:13 left to play. Around midfield. On our live gameday chat, I was saying we should play play it safe and do nothing stupid. Let’s go into halftime leading by 11.
And Chad O’Shea was right on the money. He called for a very basic, safe pass to formerly reliable tight end Nick O’Leary. R-Fitz put the pass right on the money. But Nick O’Leary looked like the DeVante Parker of old out there. He not only dropped a perfect pass, but he bobbled it backward, right into the arms of (adding insult to injury) Minkah.
We cannot blame an aggressive play call and we certainly can’t blame the QB. No, that tide-turning, game-losing interception was all on Nick O’Leary.
You have to follow the flow of the game to see how important Nick’s gaffe was. Yes, the ensuing Steeler TD was horrific, but the Steeler offense would not have been on the field if Nick made a simple catch. That drop was a shot to the gut, and both our D and our O never recovered.
How about the 4th down conversion that wasn’t? I warned everyone in advance that the Steelers would get all the calls. Surprisingly, the refs called a fair game up to that point. But to “assume” you know where the ball was without clear-cut irrefutable visual proof? That’s just another call in the long history of Steeler lore. You saw how upset Flores was? He needs to be that upset before and during the review. He needs to make his points to the refs during the process…and not wait until it’s too late. Wouldn’t change anything, but arguing after the fact seemed childish to me.
Mark Walton fumbling when we were only down 4 points and driving? Ouch, that one hurt. Especially since I praised Walton the last few weeks.
R-Fitz fumbling the very next play when we got the ball back? That one hurt because we had to listen to the JJ Watt praise for the next half hour. JJ isn’t on either team, yet they fawned on him forever. Hopefully the Texans blow a few games without him now.
And one final item that we cannot overlook is a big series in the game that bothered me, yet all the pundits overlooked. We led by 4 at the half and kicked off. Pitt drove down the field and ended up missing a filed goal. We took over with outstanding field position at our own 45. We had the momentum, having stopped the Steelers and ending their drive with zero points and the ball in great shape.
But from there, the sequence was Incomplete, Incomplete, Interception. THAT series ended the game. First of all, I HATE throwing deep on first down. When you miss those, it sets up 2nd and long, and we’re not good enough to pick those up. We had moved the ball all during the first half with some runs and short passes, so there was no need at all to doom our first series of the 3rd quarter with a bomb. Not from our own 45 with all the momentum. Another incompletion followed, and then the long interception that Minkah caught inside his own 5.
Our defense was exhausted, and they needed ANYTHING other than a fast 3-and-out. It was a really bad time to take 10 seconds off the clock when we needed 10 minutes.