Pittsburgh Steelers And Green Bay Packers: Sunday M.A.S.H.


Two high-powered offenses met at Heinz Field Sunday when the Green Bay Packers came knocking on the Pittsburgh Steelers front door. The Steelers finished the game as winners, 24-19, but in a game that has no impact on regular season standings, both teams were losers because of injuries.

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The Packers suffered the most devastating loss when wide receiver Jordy Nelson tore an ACL on a first quarter play simply by catching a Aaron Rodgers pass and making a turn untouched by a defender. Nelson has been declared out for the season as he will need surgery to repair the knee.

For the Steelers, a player who has earned a reputation of getting hurt is Maurkice Pouncey and for Pittsburgh’s starting center, it was déjà vu when he was the victim of a rolled on play that broke his left ankle. In 2013 during the opening game, Pouncey tore knee ligaments and missed the rest of the season. Now Pouncey will require surgery again but he’s may be able to return in 2015.

“It is as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling” Mike Tomlin

Defensively, Stephon Tuitt also twisted an ankle although his injury has been deemed less serious and his return will be much sooner than that of the Steelers center. Also suffering an injury during the Packers game was Bruce Gradkowski who banged up some fingers but it is not considered serious. Landry Jones finished the game and Mike Tomlin got a scare when it appeared Jones also suffered a hand injury.

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin reacted to the injuries following the game:

“It’s part of the game and we don’t overanalyze it. It is as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. We will make the necessary adjustments and I expect the ball to keep rolling, because that’s the business we are in.”

Like any other preseason game, it’s difficult to provide an overall analysis when the starting lineups are not playing the entire game. The first quarter on the other hand was a showcase of some of the NFL’s biggest stars.

For the Green Bay Packers, losing Jordy Nelson hurts their high-powered offense immensely. Still, they made Pittsburgh’s first-team defense look silly on the opening series by marching downfield on 10 plays, 80 yards, and a Eddie Lacy seven yard touchdown run. What fans may see plenty of this season came next. Instead of kicking the extra point from the NFL’s new location on the field, the Packers opted to go for the two-point conversion which they converted on thanks to James Starks.

Ben Roethlisberger and his offense tried to answer right back in their first series and put together a six-minute drive that began on their own 28 but stalled at Green Bay’s 43.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

There were some big plays in that first drive including a 17-yard pass play to super stud Antonio Brown who also caught what appeared to be a 58-yard touchdown bomb. But Brown had so very slightly pushed off on the defender and was flagged for offensive pass interference and the score was nullified.

The Steelers first points came defensively on a safety by James Harrison who pinned Aaron Rodgers in the end zone following an amazing special teams play by Anton Blake that pinned Green Bay on their own one-yard line.

Ben Roethlisberger finally got his offense on the board when he mounted a drive that began near midfield and ended with a Markus Wheaton three-yard touchdown grab in a series that also saw him grab a 20-yard pitch and catch.

Green Bay would mount a 19-9 lead into the third quarter but Landry Jones and the rest of the Steelers kept fighting which must have made Mike Tomlin smile. Following a field goal from Garrett Hartley, Shakim Phillips and Tyler Murphy stepped up big time and made it difficult for Mike Tomlin to make a roster decision in just a few weeks.

Both Phillips and Murphy caught touchdown passes, the rookie Phillips with the game winner a 20-yarder at the 4:26 mark in the final quarter. Murphy’s came from 22 yards out. Landry Jones was impressive again completing 10 of 19 passes for 172 yards. His passer rating rose to a preseason high of 96.8.

In his short volume of work, Roethlisberger missed on just three passes with 100 yards the result. More importantly was not just how accurate Roethlisberger was but also the velocity on his throws. Before exiting the  game, Gradkowski threw five times and hit on three for 25 yards. For what it’s worth, Big Ben’s quarterback rating was 120.2.

On the ground, Le’Veon Bell was not very effective running just six times for 16 yards, but his new counterpart DeAngelo Williams ran four times for a more impressive 20 yards. Other players with some solid stats were Tyler Murphy with four receptions for 61 yards including the touchdown, and another drafted rookie Sammie Coates with two receptions, one of which was a 30-yarder. A third rookie, Phillips finished with three receptions for 47 yards.

Perhaps the most impressive part of last Sunday’s game for the Pittsburgh Steelers was their defense. The starting unit began the game but did not finish however, on the whole, the numbers were staggering. Six sacks, nine tackles for a loss, three passes defended, and eight quarterback hits.

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Buccaneers vs. Packers prediction, odds, spread, injuries, trends for NFL Week 15
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  • Top rookie Bud Dupree played great for a first-year player and Shamarko Thomas looked good in his effort to replace Troy Polamalu. Defensive players were making their mark all over the field. Jarvis Jones contributed as did Daniel McCullers. Newcomer L.J. Fort made one tackle and it was a sack.

    Despite the opening series, new Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler should be grinning this week after his unit’s performance. The defense played hard and played not just aggressive but to the whistle. The Steelers will get another stern test on Saturday when the take on the up and coming Buffalo Bills.

    A final observation from last Sunday’s game was on the special teams. Kicking coverage was outstanding and Dri Archer returned two kickoffs one of which went for 31 yards. As for that all-important punting battle, the game began with Jordan Berry getting the first shot and was then replaced by the incumbent Brad Wing.

    In the end, both punters had three opportunities and Jordan Berry edged Brad Wing 3-2 in punts inside the 20. Wing’s average was a bit better 49.7 to 47.3. A very difficult decision lies ahead for Mike Tomlin.


    Following the game, Tomlin spoke to the media with his thoughts about the games which can found in their entirety on the Steelers official site.

    “It feels good to make the necessary plays, especially at home. The game was not perfect by any stretch. We stopped ourselves on offense early in the game and had a pre-snap penalty at midfield, but we overcame that.”

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