Pittsburgh Steelers: Playing See-Saw With Seattle Seahawks


If you like an NFL game that goes back and forth on the scoreboard, then the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ loss in Seattle last Sunday 39-30 was a classic example.

With seven lead changes, the Seahawks made the most of three turnovers scoring 19 points off of three Steelers interceptions, two thrown by Ben Roethlisberger and another off the hands of Landry Jones on a fake field goal attempt that went completely awry.

The loss could prove to be critical for the Black and Gold as they drop to a record of 6-5 and currently out of the wild card race falling behind the #5 and sixth seed for the moment, the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs.

In losing the game that evolved into offensive fireworks, one thing stood clear about Pittsburgh’s defense when the smoke cleared. The Steelers secondary, long their Achilles Heal, remains just that. Their underneath coverage was terrible and the tackling may have been worse. On the final touchdown of the game, an 80-yard catch and run from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin, the coverage by Antwon Blake was not good and both he and Mike Mitchell missed tackles on Baldwin’s trek to the end zone for the score that sealed the victory.

For Ben Roethlisberger and Markus Wheaton, monster efforts by both went wasted. The primary weapon for Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown was held in check most of the day by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. While catching eight passes, Brown had just 51 yards receiving. As Brown was unable to make a larger impact, Wheaton who had been pretty much a ghost this season, reappeared in Seattle to amass a whopping 201 yards receiving on just nine receptions.

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Big Ben did not finish the game after taking a late helmet-to-helmet hit and was forced to undergo the league’s concussion protocol. Before he departed with just a few minutes to play, Roethlisberger went over 400 yards passing for the eighth time in his career with a final tally of 456 yards.

Roethlisberger’s stats may have been gaudy as he threw the ball an incredible 55 times, but it was his two interceptions that proved to be very costly. On one of those picks, unfortunately, Antonio Brown who was the target, fell down, making for an easy interception for that same Richard Sherman, his first pick in the last 12 games.

Steelers fans can only dream how great this current team would be if only the secondary was better. The offense is potent, sporting perhaps the best three wide receivers in the NFL. When Wheaton, Brown, and Martavis Bryant are playing at their best, they are deadly. But an offense can only carry a team so far and when there are this many turnovers against a very good team, it usually results in a loss.

Looking ahead, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the Indianapolis Colts coming to Heinz Field next Sunday for an evening nationally televised game. Then the final four games will be played with three on the road and one more at home. Those four opponents are Cincinnati, Denver at home, and closing out with games in Baltimore and Cleveland. To earn a wild card spot, Pittsburgh may have to win their remaining games. Defending the division title is all but a lost cause by trailing the Bengals by a full three games after the loss in Seattle and Cincinnati’s victory at home against the Rams.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

Looking back to Seattle, there will be Steelers fans loving Mike Tomlin’s aggressive and risky play calling while others may believe it is foolish. Late in the game and trailing by just two at 32-27, Tomlin and Todd Haley had their offense with a fourth and goal just a few yards from the end zone. Instead of trying to take the lead, the field goal team was brought in with the thought process that the offense would get one more shot to win the game with another field goal.

Sure enough, Landry Jones and the offense did get a final chance, but a Jones interception ended any opportunity for Chris Boswell to get a chance for a game winner. Instead, Baldwin made his icing on the cake touchdown run. With Wheaton’s big day, Martavis Bryant also hauled in five catches for 69 yards, but more importantly was the fact that he also dropped some passes that were well defended but could have been caught.

On Sunday Night Football both Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison indicated they believed Tomlin should have attempted a touchdown instead kicking the field goal on that fourth down play. Given how the offense was producing led them to that opinion. Making good on one of two conversion attempts following touchdowns instead of kicking the PAT, as well as the field goal attempt that turns into an interception,  Tomlin continued his 2015 trend of being aggressive in his play calling and decisions.

Defending his decisions at halftime, Steelers Nation has to like what Tomlin said on camera “We’re not going to live in our fear, we’re going to live in our hope.” As the saying goes…live by the sword, die by the sword. Or, as former New York Jets’ Head Coach Herman Edwards once said in a post game press conference, “You play to win the game”


Lost in the final score of the game were some interesting facts, personal records set, and milestones of sorts:

  • With Martavis Bryant’s spectacular end around rush for a touchdown, it was the first rushing touchdown by a receiver for the Steelers since Hines Ward turned the trick on November 7, 2004.
  • The Seattle Seahawks have not yielded two or more 40 yard plays  on their field in the same game since 2008 … until they met the Steelers last Sunday.
  • A career high for Ben Roethlisberger he’d rather forget. The Seattle game was his fifth consecutive with at least one interception.
  • Russell Wilson’s five touchdown passes ties him for Seattle’s team record.

Next: Pitt's Comeback Attempt Falls Short In 29-24 Loss To Miami

Finally, a few final thoughts from this Steelers fan:

  • The point might be moot, but Kam Chancellor’s final interception of Landry Jones that ended up in the hands of Martavis Bryant, was ruled incomplete by guest analyst and former great NFL referee Mike Carey. Too bad Carey was not on the field.
  • Ryan Shazier leaves the game with another injury this time a concussion. Is he soft?
  • Three observations of players: I love the play of Chris Boswell who I now call admirably “CB Well.” I think he should replace Shaun Suisham permanently. I also like the play of Jesse James and believe he is going to be around in a Steelers uniform for a long time. Lastly, James Harrison has to have some of the biggest biceps in the NFL.
  • Of Big Ben’s two interceptions, one Antonio Brown fell down, the other, Roethlisberger tried to pull the ball back and it slipped out of his hand so it wasn’t a case of poor throws.
  • The defense aside from the secondary is playing at a high level and the speed from the linebackers is fun to watch. Bud Dupree is a star in the making.
  • Finally, this season may finish with many Steelers fans looking back and asking themselves what if?