Two points before I get into this. Arizona was offsides on the last Roethlisberger pick, and the spot on the Leinart 4th down conversion was bullshit. That's all you'll hear me say about those two instances. Don't ask me about them. They are over.
This loss was horrible to watch. The first three installments of MMCNY have been all peachy-keen (I won't be using that phrase ever again) and blissfully ignorant. Now, we get to tear into this awful gameplan, from the coaches down through the players.
Tale of the tape: 3rd and a thousand. Underlying theme: We now understand why Bruce Arians coached in Cleveland.
Who all underperformed in the desert?
Fast Bill: Check.
Offensive Line: Major Check.
WR Corps minus San Antonio: Check.
2nd Half D: Alarming Check.
I know Hines was out, but that's no excuse for such a major dropoff in the WR corps. I know Polamalu was injured, but that's no excuse for such a major dropoff in the 2nd half D. I know the Cards' D was lively all night, but that's no excuse for such a major dropoff in O Line and RB production. Pittsburgh should not have had to worry about pretty boy Matt Leinart and Kurt "New York Giants Turnover Machine" Warner. I think the game was awful to watch because this game should not have been lost.
On the bright side, after 4 weeks, my Terrible Towel is starting to get its mid-season scent. This was the type of game that warrants many a scream into the twisted, thrown-at-the-television, balled-up flag of the Nation. I know an undefeated season is the exception, definitely not the rule, but losses hurt...simply put. I'm gonna get into this bitch, and then I'm done with it. Forever.
Bennifer. Dan Dierdorf was practically wetting himself with your "escapability". It worked at the beginning of the game. It worked at the end. The middle parts...it didn't come out as much. Sure, the O Line sucked, but there was no reason to take 4 sacks. After that first touchdown, Ben stuck around in the pocket too much, and was at the mercy of the tough Arizona D. Too many mental mistakes (fumbles, ints, botched handoffs/pitches) made 3rd down seem like a mile every time. When Ben went back to moving around outside the pocket, it was nearly too late. That last touchdown drive was beautiful in every sense of the word, mainly because Ben was on the move at all times. Don't abandon that trait in the middle of the game. 3 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Fast Bill. Thanks to monster games in weeks 1-3, Fast Bill is still averaging 101 yards per game. This game was just awful, though. 19 carries for 37 yards adds up to a 1.9 yards per carry average. The O Line was mainly to blame, so 3 of 5 motorcycle helmets seems appropriate.
San Antonio. Yes, he was only called that once. Holmes was the lone bright spot (aside from Sepulveda, but he was on the field more than I would've liked, and Steve Breaston returned one punt for a score) despite drawing most of Arizona's attention. Re-read his stats. 6 receptions, 128 yards, 21.3 yards per catch, 2 touchdowns, long of 43 yards. I called him a Pro Bowler in the first quarter of week 1. I'll stick by that claim. 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Bruce Arians. Horrible. Terrible. Awful. Pathetic. I'm running out of negative adjectives here. The flaws in a Bruce Arians-run offense were highlighted in Arizona. Bruce is gonna use Willie to set up play action, then use the deep ball to spring Willie again, capping it all off with a pass to the Tight End for the score. Monotony. Repetitive. Any NFL coach will be able to deconstruct an Arians offense as if it were spelled out in front of them with crayon. Arians showed no creativity, and looked stupefied without Hines on the field. Ward was out, so Bruce was left scrambling with Nate Washington and Ced Wilson. Both receivers looked confused, because Arians refused to get them (primarily Ced) involved earlier in the season. Now, he was left to rely on underused WRs when Santonio was double-covered. The ultimate collapse was seen on the Warner fumbled snap which resulted in first and goal from the 4. He put all his money on Willie when Willie couldn't break free all game. Instead of passing first, Willie was stumped on consecutive runs. Then, when the only thing left to do was pass, he opted for the oh-so-repetitive pass to the Tight End. And we're supposed to believe a dominant safety like Adrian Wilson wouldn't sniff that out. 2 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Steelers Nation deserves an apology.
Polamalu-less D. Want to know how important a guy like Troy Polamalu is to a defense? Watch that game tape again. Prior to leaving the game, Troy used levitation to distract Leinart, forced a fumble and recovered another. The D was pitching a shutout early because Troy confuses the opposing QB. With him knocked out of the game, the D looked like practice squad misfits. Kurt Warner, who was all but washed up prior to last week, resembled the Super Bowl winning, league MVP player that he once was. Guys like Jehreme Urban were open like crazy, and Edgerrin James was quietly averaging nearly 4 yards per carry. Warner constantly exploited the middle of the field, where Polamalu thrives, and the D could only muster 2 sacks. Plus, the only turnover after Troy left was the freebie botched Arizona snap. I guess the Arizona O were who we thought they were (or something like that). 3 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Losses suck. I'm done talking about this game. My attention is on Seattle.