Preseason Game No. 2 - Steelers vs. Packers Recap

The Black and Gold made their first appearance of the 2007 season at Heinz Field on Saturday night for a game against the Green Bay Packers. Both teams' starters struggled a bit, though the Steelers second team got out to a 9-0 lead before the Packers rallied in the second half for a 13-9 victory.

The game was blacked out in my area but replays are being shown multiple times this week on the NFL Network (see previous post). However, I was able to listen to Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin's radio broadcast for most of the game, and here are my thoughts:

The no-huddle offense that Bruce Arians had Ben Roethlisberger and the first team offense come out with is tough to exhibit in a preseason game. First of all, Arians is obviously going to want to hide a lot of the wrinkles the team has been working on in order to save them for the regular season. Secondly, the no-huddle is very dependent on a quarterback being in rhythm, and that's tough to ask that of Ben on the very first series of the game. And thirdly, and most importantly in my mind, the no-huddle is much more effective to use against a defense that is worn down at a later point in the game. Its not as if the Packers were gasping for air after three plays. I'm excited to see how the Steelers utilize the new package this year, but for this game, it didn't work.

Charlie Batch looked very good again. He's proving (if he hasn't already proved it) that he is one of the most dependable and serviceable backup signal callers in the league. Batch was 3 of 5 for 97 yards and a touchdown, with the score being on a 41-yard pass to Walter Young. Brian St. Pierre came in for the second half and was 10 of 23 for 99 yards in mostly ineffective play.

The offensive line is definitely a concern. For as good as the line looked last week in roughing up the Saints' defensive front, the opposite happened this weekend. The Disgruntled Alan Faneca was out, and that obviously hurt, but the Steelers gave up three sacks from the left tackle position, where Max Starks got some playing time in a tryout role as opposed to his normal right tackle spot.

The guy who was the darling of Steeler Nation last week, RB Carey Davis, didn't get the ball this week, though he did make some nice special teams plays. However, undrafted rookie Gary Russell looked good once again. After rushing for 41 yards on eight carries against New Orleans, Russell led the Steelers with 56 yards on nine attempts against the Packers. Najeh Davenport started once again in place of Willie Parker and had 34 yards on seven carries, though 21 of those yards came on one run. Kevan Barlow had 25 yards on six carries, including a 17-yard burst.

As for the receivers, Walter Young is trying his best to stay off of the practice squad this year. Young had two catches for 50 yards including that touchdown. Santonio Holmes continued to look like he's in for a big year, with a 49-yard catch and run. Nate Washington didn't even drop a pass!

The special teams play had its ups and downs. Daniel Sepulveda boomed five punts for an average of 49.8 yards, including a 59-yarder in the second quarter that went out of bounds inside the 20-yard line. Cedric Wilson staked his claim to be the punt returner with two runbacks for an average of 19 yards. However, Jeff Reed had a PAT blocked.

Defensively there were no individual standout performances, though rookie William Gay had another solid game, including recording the Steelers' only sack. Pittsburgh held Brett Favre to 2 of 7 passing for 7 yards. So for those keeping track at home, Favre and Drew Brees have combined to go 3 of 13 for 13 yards against the first-team D. Not too shabby. Up next for the Steelers is the third game of the preseason, Saturday at 8 p.m. at Washington.

1 comment:

Cotter said...

What worries me -
1. Offensive line not getting it done
2. Jeff Reed missing a FG last week and having a PAT blocked this week

Other than that:
Najeh better bust his ass to show he's worthy of the #2 spot. Further, if he does, it's gonna be tough to keep Kevan Barlow and Gary Russell. Who will go? Will Verron Haynes make the cut this year?

Anyways, exciting stuff this preseason, huh?