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Blog Entry

Turnovers tell the tale of Steelers struggles

Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:24 am
Edited on: February 7, 2011 2:23 am
 
Posted by Will Brinson



DALLAS -- How many times over the past week was this phrase -- the team who wins the turnover battle will win the game -- used to analyze Super Bowl XLV? My best guess is right around 5,345,042 times. That's hyperbole, of course, but there's a reason why lines like that are such go-to cliches for people who analyze sports: they're true.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't immune to turning the ball over, you'll almost never see them fire a couple of rounds into their own feet. But they did just that on Sunday en route to their first Super Bowl loss in the Ben Roethlisberger era.

Mistake-laden football isn't not a common sight because Pittsburgh's a well-coached team that's sustained success by making big plays on the defensive end and letting other teams force their own errors. But the script was flipped Sunday, and it led to the aforementioned typical results.

"Usually when you lose it's because of penalties and turnovers," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said.

Covered that already.

"When you turn the ball over like we did, you put yourself in a bad position to win the game," running back Rashard Mendenhall said.

And he's one of the guys who coughed the ball up.

"You can't turn the ball over and win football games in the NFL," center Doug Legursky said. "That's just Day 1 stuff."

Even a last-minute replacement knows that.

"No excuses," Roethlisberger said. "Regardless of the situation, you just can't turn the ball over."

Not if you plan on winning. Want me to keep going with these? Because I can -- every single Steelers' player who spoke with the media mentioned the turnovers and they know that despite being outplayed by the Packers, they didn't exactly help their own cause.

Just look at the final game stats: The Steelers finished with 19 first downs (to Green Bay's 15), they held the ball for 33:25 (to Green Bay's 26:35), they converted 54 percent of their third downs (to Green Bay's 46 percent), they piled up 387 net yards (to Green Bay's 338).

In other words, the either dominated the Packers or at least broke even with them on the stat sheet … with two major exceptions: Pittsburgh turned the ball over three times (to Green Bay's none) and committed seven penalties for 67 yards (to Green Bay's six for 55).

The penalties came at inopportune times (illegal block to set up Ben's pick six, and terribly-timed holding calls) for sure, but the turnovers were particularly brutal.

That was patently obvious to everyone, including the guys who made the biggest mistakes. Asked about his own game-changing fumble to start the fourth quarter, Mendenhall didn't make any excuses.

"I just got hit and the ball came out," Mendenhall said. "It just happened and it should not have happened."

This particular instance isn't exactly indicative of poor preparation, but the vibe around the Steelers after the game seemed to be one of stunned shock at their poor performance.

"I don't know, I had some opportunities to make some plays," Troy Polamalu said. "I was just a step off here or there."

He wasn't exactly alone, though, considering that the entire Steelers team spent 28 minutes of the first half doing their best impression of Robert Downey, Jr., at a wine-tasting, looking wobbly as hell, out of synch, and doing things the Steelers don't usually do.

Roethlisberger looked off most -- if not all -- of the game, repeatedly over-throwing receivers en route to racking up an embarrassingly bad 16.7 passer rating in the first half. It was the type of performance that will have people wondering what the hell Ben did in Dallas all week, his tradition of taking linemen out to karaoke bar to sing Billy Joel tunes notwithstanding.

Green Bay, on the other hand, looked as prepared as you can possibly ask a team to be. Even when they lost their defensive MVP Charles Woodson and saw Pittsburgh rally to within four points at 21-17, the defense managed to capitalize on a mistake by the Steelers as Clay Matthews tattooed Mendenhall in the backfield for a fumble that Desmond Bishop recovered.

"It's really film work and preparation," Matthews said. "I had a good feeling that play was going to come."



Could the Steelers really have been that predictable? Losing by just six and scoring 25 against a very good defense doesn't seem to indicate as much, but Packers safety Nick Collins -- a former high-school running back who scampered his way into the end zone for an early backbreaker of a pick six -- and his take on the play might show that they were after all.

"I was just reading [Ben Roethlisberger's] eyes," Collins said about the interception. "I was able to get a nice jump on the ball and when I saw it floating up there, I just wanted to make sure that I caught it."

Those eyes told a MUCH different tale after the game -- Roethlisberger limped around the locker room with red, puffy eyes that showed some an overwhelming amount of emotion even for a guy who's had his share of troubles this season and probably thought things would end better once he got this far.

They obviously didn't, but unfortunately, neither he nor anyone else in Pittsburgh's locker room has anyone but themselves to blame for walking off without a championship this time around.

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Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:36 am
 

Turnovers tell the tale of Steelers struggles

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dsfjwerw
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:42 am
This comment has been removed.

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jhfgdters
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:12 am
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Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Turnovers tell the tale of Steelers struggles

Jay Cutler got railed on for not trying to play... I think Troy Polamalu effort was less than Cutlers. What a joke he was.



Since: Sep 19, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:32 am
 

Turnovers tell the tale of Steelers struggles

"... in the era. "

Santa Claus. Easter Bunny. Ben Roethlisberger Era. There is no such thing.



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