Wednesday, October 18, 2006

When you win 45-7,

You get featured in TMQ:

Sweet Play of the Week: Pittsburgh leading 7-0, the Steelers had a first-and-10 on the Chiefs' 47. Pittsburgh ran a sweet-looking play in which Ben Roethlisberger faked the hitch pass right, then faked a handoff up the middle, then threw deep to the unguarded Nate Washington on the skinny post -- touchdown, and the walkover was on. Not only did Kansas City defensive back Greg Wesley let Washington go deep, not even attempting to cover him; not only was Wesley making the high school mistake of "looking into the backfield" trying to guess the play rather than guarding his man; check the tape of what happened once Wesley turned and realized Washington was behind him. Wesley merely stood there and watched the touchdown, jogging a little in the general direction after it was too late. This is the sort of defensive esprit de corps that would later in the game result in Kansas City taking over the mantle of TMQ's Single Worst Play of the Season So Far (see below).
Actually, I think this deserves to be the sweet and sour play of the week. A Chiefs DB had a chance to tackle nate Washington, but instead went for the big hit so beloved by highlight shows. The Pride of Tiffin College took the hit, bounced off, and went into the end zone. Had the DB wrapped up, the Steelers would have had first and ten in the red zone leading 7-0.

Big Ben has a history of costly interceptions down close. He threw pick-sixes to both the Jets and the Patriots in the 2004 playoffs. We squeaked by the Jets, but the interception against the Patriots was a back breaker. (It made the score 24-7 at the half.)

In SuperBowl XL, it was his interception at the goal line that let the Seahawks score their only touchdown. It kept the game close when it might have become a rout. (Blitzburgh loves a 21-3 third quarter lead).

This season the Steelers were leading the Bengals 7-0 and were driving (sound familiar?) Ben threw an interception in the end zone and left the door unlocked for the Bengal’s comeback.

All of this illustrates why the Chiefs’ play was inexcusable. Anything can happen in the red zone. Even if the Chiefs don’t get an interception and 95 yard return, they may have recovered a fumble or blocked a field goal. Even a successful field goal would have made the score only 10-0 and would have let the Chiefs defense keep a little of their confidence.

So it was a sweet play, a sour play, and a hidden play (unplay?). I sometimes wonder if this isn’t one of those areas where hustling teams (cough, Patriots, cough) reap their reward. They don’t give up cheap touchdowns and so have a chance to force the red zone turnover in the first place. Or they hold their opponent to a field goal. Over the course of a season that can translate into 30 or 40 unscored points and one or two extra victories.

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