Another Steelers game, another coverage sack against Ben Roethlisberger, this one on a 3rd-&-18 on the team's first drive of the second quarter. How many times have we seen this in 2010? Everyone always talks about how terrible Pittsburgh's offensive line is, but it seems like a big chunk of the sacks they've allowed have come on plays where the line actually formed a pretty solid pocket for their quarterback to step up into. I understand that Roethlisberger's penchant for holding onto the ball is often responsible for some of the Steelers' more dynamic, game-changing plays, but it's often responsible for sacks, too - especially when the opposition rushes three or four and drops everyone else into coverage.
Fantastic pick by cornerback Bryant McFadden, who looked like a wideout (albeit one who had to bobble the ball a bit before hauling it in, but hey) on his second quarter interception. There's been a couple rough patches for McFadden this season, but when all is said and done, he'll be viewed as a complete bargain for the second-day draft pick they gave up to reacquire him from the Arizona Cardinals.
I hope that we can all agree, no matter what NFL team you root for, no matter what holidays (if any) you celebrate, that jewelry commercials are the worst part of this season. The basic tagline for every one of them seems to be "women are single-minded creatures that are mesmerized by shiny objects." You want to get your wife/girlfriend/dog a diamond ring for Christmas, great. But just remember, that kind of thing can get out of hand really quickly:
It's wonderful to see Heath Miller back in the lineup after missing the last two weeks following a concussion he suffered against the Baltimore Ravens. His replacement, Matt Spaeth, had two drops last week, one of which was on a tough (but catchable) game-winning pass in the final seconds. In the first half, Miller already has four catches for 59 yards; he's well on his way to his best game of the year (32 ypg going into tonight's game).
You simply cannot catch Mike Wallace in a foot race. It's not possible. After finding a soft spot in zone coverage, the second-year receiver was off to the end zone for a 43-yard score. It was his ninth score of the year. Later, he caught a ridiculous 40-yarder where he beat man coverage on a jump ball and managed to get his feet in along the sideline. With Wallace's physical tools, the sky is limit. He's already notched 1,048 going into tonight's game and will look to add to his game total in the second half.
Pretty much the first half you'd expect from Jimmy Clausen: 3.7 yards per attempt, less than 50% completion, one interception. The rookie quarterback hasn't had much help from his receivers or offensive line, though, as the Panthers' offense has been plagued by drops and shoddy pass protection. It'll be interesting to see how Clausen performs next year after a full training camp following his nightmarish rookie campaign. And will the Panthers get him someone to throw to besides his running backs and Steve Smith?
For the second time I can remember this season, Ben Roethlisberger spiked the ball on first down late in the first half on a potential scoring drive. I guess he's trying to preserve his final timeout, but you simply cannot give up a play if you're not in four-down territory. If you really want to save time, go ahead and use the timeout - that's what it's there for. Or better yet, run a play. Either way, there is no reason to spike it, effectively leaving you with two tries to get it into the end zone, instead of one. That's the kind of inexcusable decision-making that a) never gets questioned by sports broadcasters and b) leaves points on the field.
Ben Roethlisberger is having a ridiculous first half: 16-for-23, 259 yards, an astonishing 11.3 yards per attempt. The Steelers lead the Panthers in total yards (288, 84), time of possession (16:01, 13:59), and turnovers (1, 2). After one half of football, Pittsburgh leads Carolina, 20-0.