SEATTLE – There was quite a bit of frustration both offensively and defensively for the Pittsburgh Steelers following their 39-30 loss at Seattle Sunday.
Eight times in the game Pittsburgh had Seattle facing third-and-6 or longer. On six of those occasions, the Seahawks converted the down, including two that went for touchdowns.
“We’ve got to get off on third downs,” said linebacker Lawrence Timmons. “We were doing good on first and second down. We were giving up plays at the end. That’s killer.”
Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, the unquestioned leader of the defense, agreed.
“There were so many times when we had them third and long that we didn’t capitalize,” Heyward said. “It’s disheartening because it means we’re doing our job on first and second and then not getting off on critical downs.”
Disheartening. Yep, that pretty much sums that up.
The same thing could be said of the offense turning the ball over four times. Seattle entered the game with four interceptions this season. It doubled that total, picking off Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones twice each.
“You go on the road and have turnovers like that, you’re not going to win,” said guard David DeCastro. “That’s the bottom line. You can have as many yards as you want, but if you turn the ball over, it’s not a recipe for success.”
The Steelers did have a bunch of yards. Roethlisberger threw for 456 yards – the most ever against a Seattle defense – but he was picked off twice, once when a ball slipped out of his hand and another when Antonio Brown slipped and fell.
Roethlisberger left with concussion symptoms in the fourth quarter.
Jones threw four passes and had two of them picked off, including an ill-fated fake field goal on the opening play of the second quarter.
Jones, who is not normally on the field-goal unit, went onto the field late, lined up as the holder, shifted back deep enough that it appeared he might punt the ball. At the snap, he rolled right and threw back across the field toward offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva – a college receiver – who had run across the formation.
“Heath (Miller), then Al,” said Jones of his top options on the play. “They covered Heath pretty well. I just tried to put it up high enough for Al. The guy made a good play.”
Villanueva, who led Army in receptions his senior season, thought he had a shot at the catch if the pass had been thrown out in front of him. But Jones couldn’t get enough on the pass throwing it back across the field.
“I put on a sprint on at the end and tried to go over the top,” Villanueva said. “It’s a tough throw across the field. I wish I could have come back and went at it, but I couldn’t.
“The play is designed so that they blow the coverage and I’m by myself, but obviously they picked it up and he made a heck of a play on it.”
Jeremy Lane intercepted the pass and returned it to the Pittsburgh 24, setting up Seattle’s first touchdown -- which came on a third-and-16 play.
“I own that,” saidMike Tomlin of the fake attempt.
The players, however, own the rest of it.
@ Roethlisberger and linebacker Ryan Shazier will both have to pass concussion protocol this week before they’ll be permitted to play again.
That makes both of them dicey to play next week against Indianapolis.
Roethlisberger told team doctors he was experiencing concussion symptoms likely from an illegal hit from Michael Bennett. He stayed in the game at that point, but approached the training staff after the drive was completed.
“All that stuff is going on behind me,” said Tomlin. “We were going to do what was appropriate and take care of our guys.”
@ Richard Sherman matched up on Antonio Brown all over the field for most of this game and Brown managed six catches for 51 yards. He also drew a defensive holding penalty on Sherman, but Sherman had an interception when Brown fell after some jostling with Sherman at the line of scrimmage.
“He’s a fantastic receiver,” said Sherman. “You’ve got to give him all the respect in the world. There’s great respect between me and him. It was showing in this game.”
With Brown being shadowed by one of the game’s best, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant got more one-on-one opportunities. Wheaton had a career day, catching nine passes for 201 yards and a touchdown, while Bryant had five catches for 69 and scored on an 11-yard end around.
But Bryant also had some key drops and couldn’t come down with a couple of jump balls.
“If they’re matching Richard Sherman, then other guys not named Antonio Brown are going to have opportunities,” said Tomlin. “Markus did a nice job, no question.”
@ I'm hearing the Steelers might be stuck here because of fog. Let's hope there's no Cliff Stoudt situation.