Some player are capable of making big-time plays. Some players have that certain clutch factor that’s needed to put crucial games away.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is not one of them.
The Steelers lost a critical game to AFC North rivals, the Baltimore Ravens 22-20 on Thanksgiving night. As if the Steelers’ playoff hopes weren’t already on thin ice, it would appear the ice has begun to crack.
A log jam of multiple teams to get the final AFC playoff berth and a detrimental loss to the a divisional opponent, the Steelers are in trouble.
The Steelers’ final drive of the game felt like it lasted a century. After a long ball to tight end Heath Miller, it appeared the Steelers wasted no time finding the end zone and were a two point conversion away from knotting it all up. Upon further review, Miller was tackled just short of the goal line leaving a half of a yard to go.
Running back Le’Veon Bell took the ball up the gut on the next play but was met (and knocked out) by the Ravens’ defensive front and that brought up second and goal. It was Ben Roethlisberger who raced to sidelines to change the play offensive coordinator Todd Haley wanted to run; Roethlisberger called Bell’s number once more. Roethlisberger chose the right call, Bell made his way into the end zone but due to a big hit that jarred Bell’s helmet off, the score was wiped from the board.
The NFL’s rule states that if a player’s helmet is knocked off, the play is blown dead at that moment. Bell’s helmet came flying off right before he hit the chalk, and once again the Steelers’ were stuck just shy of the goal line.
The third time’s a charm though. Roethlisberger, on a third and goal, found a wide open Jerricho Cotchery for the touchdown. All the Steelers needed to do was convert on a two point conversion and this game wouldv’e been in the hands of Steelers’ defense.
The Steelers opted to go with a back shoulder pass to Sanders. A back shoulder pass is a pretty questionable playcall here. I’m not really sure how successful in this situation that play would be, especially to guy like Sanders. I wouldn’t question it if the Steelers had a receiver like Calvin Johnson to be a go-to-guy, but they don’t have that guy. I wouldn’t even be that confidence flinging it to Antonio Brown on a back shoulder throw.
Even though the play call was questionable, it still should’ve worked. Roethlisberger put the ball right on the money, it hit Sanders right in the hands and he dropped it. There was good coverage from Ravens’ corner back Chykie Brown, who just entered the game, but good coverage aside, Sanders never turned around to look for it, and it hit him where it should’ve, but he didn’t make the play.
There’s a lot of different things wrong with this Steelers team but there’s no doubt that aside from their quarterback, there’s no play makers on this team. Antonio Brown has his moments but just like in this Baltimore game, in a critical moment there just wasn’t that player to make the play.
This loss hurts and now the Steelers find themselves in a pickle. A lot of help is going to be needed to make the playoffs and winning out is must.
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