Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Steelers fall to Vikings, 14-3

Had this been a regular season meeting, there would have been multiple storylines, with most of them interesting. Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace getting a crack at his former team’s new-look defensive secondary; the return of Adrian Peterson and his matchup against the Steelers’ defensive line now playing an attacking style; and Minnesota’s second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater vs. first-year defensive coordinator Keith Butler, to list a few.

But this was the preseason opener, the first of five preseason games for both of these teams, and so the entire exercise was geared more toward evaluating your own personnel in game-type situations in the players’ first exposure of the year to outside-their-own-locker-room competition. This was going to be more about getting out of the huddle and snapping the ball before the play-clock expires, and having 11 on the field for every snap, and having all of those 11 playing the same defense at the same time, and not turning the ball over, etc. Sloppiness leads to slappyness, and slappyness gets guys cut.

In the first half, the Steelers committed two pre-snap penalties on offense and had one turnover, that coming on a fumble by C.J. Goodwin following a reception from Landry Jones that would have been good for a first down. In the second half, there was another turnover – on a fumble by Jesse James after a reception – and the defense committed a pre-snap penalty by being offside.

The Steelers trailed, 7-3, and had the ball with a first down at the Minnesota 2-yard line with 1:54 remaining in the first half. On first down, Cameron Stingily gained 1 yard, and things went downhill from there. The second down play was ruined by a quick snap from center Reese Dismukes when Landry Jones looked to be changing the protection and the resulting pass fell incomplete. On third down, Devin Gardner had a pass go through his hands. On fourth down Jesse James dropped a certain touchdown pass. Instead of a lead and some momentum going into the locker room at halftime, the Steelers still trailed, 7-3.

The first half, while reflective of what could have been expected from the first of five preseason games, was not what Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to see from his team. The Steelers offense committed two pre-snap penalties, it turned to ball over on a lost fumble at the Vikings 34-yard line, and it was 0-for-2 in the red zone, including no points on four plays from a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

During his news conference on Friday, Aug. 7, Coach Mike Tomlin said Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell,Heath MillerAntonio BrownMaurkice Pouncey, and James Harrison would not play at all vs. the Vikings. Others not in uniform for the Hall of Fame Game were Martavis BryantMarkus Wheaton,Jarvis JonesMike Mitchell, and Shamarko Thomas.

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