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Stillers-Jags Postgame Analysis and Grades

October 06, 2008 by Still Mill

Stillers 26, Jags 21 ���Game #5
Stillers 26, Jags 21���. Oct 5, 2008 ����Game #5��


Stillers-Jags Postgame Analysis and Grades


The depleted Stillers ventured down to J-ville, with lousy prospects amidst a 4-game losing streak to the Jags, including 2 losses last season.The game started ominously enough, with Mathis returning what seems like his 14th career TD off an INT of BenRoth, and the Jags were up early, 7-0.But the Stillers clawed back, and late in the 4Q came from behind and scored the winning TD.��




QB:Ben was on fire in the 1H, passing for 239 yards.The INT was really the fault of Holmes, who slipped on his curl route.He and the offense cooled off considerably in the 3Q (-2 passing yards), but Ben led the TD march by going 6 of 8 and hitting Ward with a perfect fade pass.�� Ben made 2 tremendous plays on the winning drive --


-          1st play of drive - Ben eluded rush, hit Ward for 16 yards.

-          3d & 8 late in drive - Ben, with 1 defender grabbing him and another zeroing in, threw off balance and somehow hit Ward for 18 yards, in as spectacular a play as you�ll see a QB make all season.


Ben finished with over 300 yards (309), a first since Nov. 2006.��� With the running back position decimated, the Stillers needed a clutch, prolific performance by Ben, and he delivered.A+


RB:Moore started due to the rash of injuries, and gave a tremendous effort, rushing for 99 yards on only 17 carries and catching 3 balls for 17.Moore ripped off some nice gainers, including 19 yards on the first play of the game, 11 & 15 yards in the 2Q, 13 yards on a draw early in the 4Q, and 27 yards to ignite the final drive.Russell chipped in nicely, gaining a healthy 25 yards on 6 rushes, including a quality 15-yard run.��� Getting this kind of RB production from backup RBs against a solid defense is stunning.�� A+


FB: Davenport had a key 3rd & 1 plunge out of the FB spot for 3 yards.Davis did not dress due to the ankle injury.��� Inc


WR:Nate led the way with 6 grabs for 94 yards and a 48-yard TD on a stop n� go in the 2Q.He extended his arms -- thus slowing himself down -- on a deep ball later in the 2Q, but he drew a taunting flag and a 1st down after that play.But after a 1st down grab in the 4Q, Nate showed the ball to the Jax sideline and was flagged for a fairly cheesy taunting penalty.


Ward was on fire early in the game, and had the clutch game-winning TD.He dropped a fairly easy TD pass late in the 2Q; then dropped a pass on the 2nd play of the 3Q and allowed a tough pass to go thru his hands on an out in the 4Q.His blocking was superb.


Holmes had the goofy slip on the 1st series, and in a fog, was unable to apply the immediate stop of Mathis, who rambled for a TD.Holmes had a nice RAC after a quick slant early in the 2Q, good for 19.Tonio had a huge 19-yard grab late in the 2Q at the Jax 5, taking a huge hit from ILB Mike Peterson but holding on. ��After this blistering hit, Tonio seemed to disappear from the offense.Once against, the offense got nothing from the #4 WR (Baker).Sweed actually was allowed to dress but did nothing.���� B


TE:Miller had 5 grabs for 45 yards and a terrific catch on the TD pass in the 1H.Spaeth actually had 2 passes thrown to him; 1 was low and the other was dropped.The blocking at the corner of the line was fairly solid, springing Moore and Russell for nice gainers.��� B+


OL: Loads of struggles early on, although the Jax front 7 gives a lot of lines headaches.�� The penalties were some of the biggest killers --


����������� - Colon, false start

����������� - Smith, false start

����������� - Colon, hold on 3d & 16 that Miller had converted for 20 yards

����������� - Stapleton, hold on 3D dumpoff, declined


However, all of these penalties were in the 1H; none were committed in a loud road venue in the 2H.Kemo had some struggles.He was beaten by Henderson for a sack in the 1st series, and was pitifully poor on a ground play in the 1Q that was stuffed for 0.Stapleton had a good block on the 1st play of the 2Q, gaining 11 yards, but then allowed much too fast of a rush (off a spin move) on a screen that was blown up.Marvel Smith got nicked up in the 3Q, and Essex replaced him in lieu of the $7M Man, Max Starks.Essex had a good block on the DE to spring Moore on the 27-yard gain late in the 4Q.Overall, Ben had fairly ample time most of the game, and the ground game produced 5 YPC.����� A-


DL:Decimated by injury (Hampton, Keisel, and Eason did not dress), this unit had the daunting task of shutting down Steeler-killer Fred Taylor as well as Jones-Drew.That they did, and quite well.�� Chris Hoke played like a man possessed, continually bottling ground plays and putting hits on a RB.He also had a strong bullrush on the 1st play after the long KO return in the 1H and his rush enabled Woodley to get a ankle-nip sack early in the 4Q.He made a strong play to pursue down the LOS and nab Taylor late in the 3Q.Aaron Smith also had a strong all-around game, and was huge on the final drive.He had an ankle-nip stop of Garrard for 2 yards, and then batted the final 4th down pass.Roye was buried on the Drew TD plunge in the 1Q, but stuffed Drew for a 1-yard loss in the 3Q.Kirschke chipped in some.�� A-


LB:Woodley and Harrison led the assault, making life miserable for any Jaguar holding a football.


Wood led all Stillers with 6 solos.He had a nice lick on Drew late in the 2Q on 3d & 2 for 1 yard.He had a good stick of Taylor for -1 in the 4Q, fighting thru a block in the process.He had the ankle-nip sack for -12 in the 4Q, and had a crisp stop of Drew after a 3d & 7 grab which was negated by a penalty.He also had a good stop of Drew after a dumpoff on the final drive.


Harrison was a force as well.He had an amazing strip & simultaneous recovery of Garrard on a scramble in the 2Q, although Harry was OOB. Still, this was an amazing, adroit LB play.He also was blatantly tripped by the RB that he�d bowled over late in the 3Q; Walker�s 32-yard reception should have been brought back due to this foul.Jamie had a bat on 4th down in the 3Q and also had a sack/FF late in the 4Q.Harrison was flagged for an utterly horrendous roughing the passer call in the 4Q, which helped extend Jax�s TD drive.This was as atrocious a call as can be made in the NFL.�� Harrison was coming full steam and hit the QB in the CHEST a millisecond after the pass was released.


Farrior and Foote continued their contest for �weakest LB award�.Farrior was weak at the POA (point of attack) on Drew�s TD plunge.He was shoved to the ground in hilarious -- and perfectly legal -- fashion by Pashos in the 3Q, which somehow drew a holding flag.To his credit, he made a good stop of Drew on a 4Q screen for a small 4-yard gain.


Foote foolishly allowed Taylor out of his grasp for an extra yard early in the 3Q.His overt lack of footspeed was grossly exposed on national TV on the 4th & 1 pass to Greg Jones, a FB, which netted 15 yards.Watching Foote futilely lumber after Jones was as painful as a root canal without Novocain.Foote was also slow and feeble on his pass drop on Lewis� 24-yard TD in the 4Q.

Timmons got only sparse PT.5 games into the season, Timmons is still rotting the bench behind Foote and it fully appears that only injury will enable him to start.He made a superb play on the screen to Drew late in the 4Q, sniffing it and stopping it for 2 yards.��


Wood and Harry:A��������� Foote and Farrior:C+���������� Timmons: Inc


DB:Leading the way was none other than Bryant McFadden, who had a strong game.He was tooled badly by Walker in the 1Q on a 3d & 10 for 18 yards.But he learned from it.He had a good bust-up on 3d & 7 midway in the 3Q.He had 2 key bust-ups on the final drive to thwart the Jags.Remember, of course, that were it not for Townsend�s injury a few weeks ago, McFadden would still be rotting on the bench.


Pola had a strong game as well.He stuffed a Taylor cutback run -- the same kind that have killed the Stillers for years -- in the 1Q, and also flashed up to drop Drew after a dumpoff deep in Jax territory.I�m still perplexed, however, as to exactly what Pola was doing on Jones� reception on 4th & 9 on the final drive.Jones caught the curl with Town and Pola bearing down.Instead of delivering some sort of lick to the WR, Pola aimlessly just ambled right by Jones, as though he were heading downfield to throw a lead block on an INT return.�� Very odd.


Ike had a miserable evening.He was flagged for a ticky-tack PI on a deep ball to Jones late in the 1Q.He was incredibly soft -- for no reason at all -- on Walker�s 32-yard catch n� run in the 3Q.


Clark also had a poor evening.Blitzing on 3d & 10 in the 2Q, he took a moronic angle and Garrard easily skirted him, and luckily Garrard was stopped by another defender for a 3-yard gain.He then had a pitiful whiff on Jones on the 4th & 1 pass.With Jones just an inch from the sideline, all Clark had to do was shove the man OOB, but instead he whiffed, which allowed an extra 11 yards.Clark then had a horrendous 2-play sequence that gave the Jags the lead in the 4Q.After a pass was nearly picked off by Town, Clark laid a big hit on Jones and was flagged for roughness, which negated what would have been 3d & 16.I actually enjoy this kind of hitting on defense, so I wasn�t enraged.The next play, however, enraged me.On a play from the Stiller 24, Clark retreated to near the end line of the end zone, and Lewis caught the pass around the 5 and waltzed into the EZ for the big TD.This was as horrendous a play as a FS can make in the NFL.��


Town played in the nickel.����� McFadd and Pola: A-�������� Ike: C-���� Clark: D


Spec teams:Mostly subpar, but luckily no disasters.�� Davenport, who hadn�t touched a football in a live game in over 9 months, somehow was assigned to return KOs.Luckily he didn�t fumble.��


There was shoddy coverage on the KO after the FG in the 2Q; Reed made the stop.Tony Smith made an ankle-nip stop later in KO coverage.Newly signed DE Scott Paxson chipped in on KO coverage.


Holmes fielded a punt with an acre of room midway thru the 2Q, and then danced more than Elvis and gained little.Berger punted from the PI 39 in the 2Q and boomed the punt 6 yards into the EZ.


Madison and Gay each had a solo stop in punt coverage in the 2H.��� Gay and Paxson were each flagged for illegal block/hold on a return.��


Reed booted 2 FGs.������� B-


OC:Arians caught a break with all the Jax injuries, including CB D. Florence, safety Nelson, and DL Rob Meier.��


The 1Q TD was off a play-action fake and thrown to an open TE.�� Hooray !!��� There is a first for everything!Throwing off play action!�� Stop the presses!


I despised the 2d & goal (from the 5) plunge to Moore late in the 2Q.�� A classic wasted play.�� I did applaud the hitch n� go against the backup CB, James, which produced the 48-yard TD pass.�� Hooray !!Attacking a defense�s weakness�..a first for Bruce Arians.


I�m still puzzled as to why Essex was inserted in lieu of Starks when M. Smith was nicked up in the 2H.I actually like Essex, but is he really better than the $7M Man ??��


The DOG penalty late in the 4Q on the 2-pointer enraged me.This was classic Arians at his worst.�� There was nothing wrong with the refs or the play-clock.The Stillers had lined up for the 2-pointer, when the replay officials stopped play to review the Ward TD.�� The ref then announced the decision to uphold the call.At this point, the 25-second clock begins.The offense quite visibly meandered and diddle-screwed in the huddle for about 17 seconds, and by the time they lined up, the clock was near zero.Watch the replay yourself.This is stupid-assed imbecility by Bruce Arians, plain and simple.During the replay review, Arians could have easily called Ben over and chatted about the 2-point playcall.��� In typical fashion, this horrendous error will be overlooked, but had Jax marched for a TD, the entire city would be hunting down Arians with knives and pitchforks.�������� B+


DC:Dick lucked out for the 3rd week in a row, with the opponent�s star RB -- this time, Drew, after Westbrook and McGahee the past 2 weeks -- nicked up midway thru the game.�� The 3d & long defense early on was utterly horrendous.The 1st Jax TD drive was a display of a futile defense.Jax was able to overcome 3d &9 and 3d & 10, easily gaining 15 & 18 yards against a defense as soft & vanilla as Jello brand pudding.On the positive side, it was nice to see this defense not get chewed up and eaten alive by the Jax ground game, although as noted, Drew did get nicked up with a sprained ankle.���� B+


HC:Give enormous credit to Tomlin for getting his troops ready after the short week created by MNF, coupled with a brutal game versus Baltimore that left a majority of the squad hobbling or injured.�� Tomlin didn�t allow the team to feel sorry for themselves, nor did he allow the Jax aura to overwhelm the team, even after the early 7-0 lead.�� All Cowher lovers/Tomlin haters, please step forward.��� A


Synopsis:The Stillers head into a well-deserved bye, atop the AFC North with a 4-1 record.With the world-champ Giants looming a week after facing winless Cinci, this road game in Cinci could be a trap game.�� With all the injuries, Tomlin will surely take the next 4-5 days very lightly, but upon the start of next week, the team will need to get mentally prepared for the Bengals, who would love nothing better to do than upset the Stillers in their season of despair.



(Still Mill and -- when it comes to the analysis of the Pittsburgh Stillers, no one else comes close�.)



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