Steelers’ playoff hopes dwindle after failed Vikings comeback – Pittsburgh Steelers blog
MINNEAPOLIS – Sitting on the platform after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ emotional one-point victory over the Baltimore Ravens, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger considered a question.
Could such a win be the springboard the Steelers needed to give offensive and defensive momentum to the last five games of the season?
“We’ll see,” he said on Sunday. “I would like to think it would help to say ‘OK, listen, this is what we can do, this is what we have to do’, but you never really know until you go.”
On Thursday night, the Steelers didn’t start until the end of the third quarter. By then it was too late.
The team that beat their division leader came out flat and couldn’t finish coming out of a 29-point hole, losing 36-28 to the Minnesota Vikings.
“We are down in the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said coach Mike Tomlin. “I’m not going to make it more complex than it is. Soccer is a complex but simple game. You have to whip the blocks, you have to tackle, you have to hold the blocks. You need to make sure that your stack is falling in the right direction. We don’t do these things. We don’t do these things regularly enough to hang our hat and find the right kind of foot to have consistent performance. “
The momentum from their previous victory died on the Vine and the team’s playoff chances, already on life support, slipped further. With the loss, the Steelers’ odds of making the playoffs dropped to 10% from 19%, according to ESPN’s REIT.
Trailing 23-0 at halftime, Tomlin evaluated his team’s performance as a college junior. The Steelers trailed 29 in the third quarter before reducing the lead to nine, only to give up a quick three-play drive capped by a 62-yard touchdown from Kirk Cousins to KJ Osborn.
The Steelers scored once again after Ahkello Witherspoon’s second interception to reduce the lead to eight, but they couldn’t complete a winning drive. After running 84 yards on the pitch, a potential touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Pat Freiermuth was snatched from him when time ran out, thwarting the Steelers’ hopes of a comeback.
“Stop spotting dots. I don’t know, ”said Cam Heyward. “We just got it, the first half was awful. The guys weren’t filling. We weren’t coming down blocks, we weren’t tackling. You name it, we did it wrong.
“You look at the score, it’s 36-28. Our offense scores enough points and we don’t get the job done.
The Steelers scored 28 points in the second half, tied for second under Roethlisberger, but no team in NFL history has ever won a regular season game after trailing more than 28 points, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
“In a way it’s frustrating,” said left tackle Dan Moore Jr., “but it’s also, I wouldn’t say encouraging, but if we start off like we’re done, there shouldn’t be any reason we were on the other side at the end of the game.
Good Chase, Bad Chase: Receiver Chase Claypool is the physical embodiment of the Steelers’ 2021 season. With 2:05 to go, Claypool pulled in a massive 38-yard catch to keep the Steelers’ comeback hopes alive. Claypool then made a big catch in fourth on the final attempt at victory. Instead of rushing to hand the ball back to the official for him to spot, Claypool signaled the first one after more than 10 seconds had passed.
“I really have to be better,” said Claypool, explaining the celebration and delay in quitting football. “I got tackled near the hash. I made my little first point. I went to hand the ball to the referee. He just got there. So even though I got up right away and I He was looking for him, he wasn’t there. He ran onto the pitch to get the ball, and the ball slipped out of my hands. That’s what cost us time. I have to be better. I knew the situation, I know I’m close to the hash. I know the ball is placed on the hash. I must be better. The ball must not fall out of my hands. “
The second year catcher’s first trimester was tough. He was called up to an unsportsmanlike penalty after retaliating against Bashaud Breeland, putting a finger in the cornerback’s helmet after being pushed to the end of a game. Then he almost fumbled while stretching for a yardage extra on the second try, saved only because during the overhaul he was knocked out by contact before the ball went out. Then he missed a block that led to Najee Harris getting tackled in the backfield in third and short. Tomlin said he put Claypool on the bench and played sparingly in the third quarter. He came back late and pulled in a crucial 14-yard tackle on the third and 9 to put the Steelers in the red zone. A few games later, Harris found the end zone.
Did Claypool get the message from his bench?
“We’ll see,” Tomlin said.
The cook is unleashed: The steel curtain looked more like cheesecloth. The squad, which lost TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith in the match to groin and knee injuries, respectively, gave Dalvin Cook a benchmark night on his return from injury.
“Dalvin definitely did his thing today, you have to give him his respect,” Witherspoon said. “We have to be better at the run, no matter who the ball carrier is.”
Cook finished with two touchdowns and 205 rushing yards, and for the past 25 seasons the only team to rush for more than 250 yards on the Steelers are the 2020 Ravens (265), according to Next Gen Stats, but the Vikings came closer with 242.
“We have to be better than we were,” Tomlin said of his line game. “We will flip every stone to do it.” … We will assess what we do and with whom we do it.
QB distribution: Roethlisberger was sacked five times Thursday night, including four in the first half – the most in the first half since he was downed five times by the Buccaneers in Week 4 of 2014. Roethlisberger finished 28 on 40 for 308 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
For the second week in a row, Roethlisberger’s second half has improved compared to the first. The offensive line had better protection in the second, allowing it to complete 4 of 5 attempts at least 15 yards down for 134 yards and a touchdown, according to ESPN Stats and Info. In the first half, he only managed one goal of at least 15 yards. Roethlisberger also made six assists in a tight window, according to NFL Next Gen stats – his most in a game in the past three seasons. Five of those completions came in the second half.