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Thanks for participating, ya jerks.
This is going to be a semi-condensed version of MMCNY, seeing as how the game was awful to watch, the starters barely played and it was the final preseason game.
Tale of the tape: Steelers won, 19-3. Underlying theme: Dan Sepulveda and Jeff Reed are tired.
Oh, and flags were flying like they were going out of style, and both offenses were sluggish to say the least.
With that being said, let’s look at some parts of the team that stood out.
Jeff Reed. Shaft (I might just call him that now) connected on all 4 of his FG attempts, and prior to Tyrone Carter’s interception return for a touchdown, he provided the only Steeler points of the game. And Carter’s int came with a little over a minute left in the game. The Carolina game was a great regular season tune up for Mr. Reed. Special teams are oftentimes overlooked and sometimes under-practiced. Tomlin is stressing special teams, and Jeff came through when needed. Anything less than 4 of 4 would have caused some doubt in my mind about Jeff going into the season opener, but he was perfect, and we couldn’t ask for anything more. 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets for Shaft.
Mike Lorello. “Who?,” you might ask. Lorello is #45, and played primarily special teams and in the 2nd half of games throughout the preseason. However, last night, Lorello came up with the kind of game-changing play that I want to see out of every player. After a Dan Sepulveda punt (and there were a few of those), Lorello came charging after the punt return specialist. He took a crappy angle, and was beat by the much faster returner. Lorello refused to give up, and continued to tail the speedy return man. Once the Panther made a few too many jukes, Lorello caught up from behind, blindsiding the returner and forcing a fumble. Sepulveda (what!?) recovered the dropped ball. I was miffed when Lorello took such a bad angle, but kept watching him as he turned and followed his missed target. His determination paid off, and he finished the play that he was originally supposed to make. And he forced a turnover in the process. 5 of 5 helmets for the spectacular display of will.
Gary Russell/Carey Davis. Both still on the bubble. Russell had a few decent runs, but one or two were called back due to offensive holding. My favorite run of his was when he took the ball, and just crammed it up the middle for 12 yards. There were Panthers and Steelers all around, but he bowled through the masses to get the first down. The final RB/FB spot might be between Russell and PSaMP fave Carey Davis. Davis impressed me by taking a pass in the flats, and refusing to go down after being hit by multiple Panthers. Russell showed a little bit last night, but nothing that clearly distinguished between the two players. 3 of 5 helmets combined for the duo, only because both players are still on the bubble. We will find out this weekend if Russell and/or Davis makes the team.
Tyrone Carter. He’s not on the bubble, which is why I was surprised to see him playing so late in the fourth quarter. He’ll probably be Polamalu’s primary backup, and showed why he will make the team with his interception to seal the game late. In my Second Quarter Observations from last night, I mentioned that Carter was everywhere. He was involved in plenty of tackles early, and played some strong coverage. Carter validated my statement by being in the right spot at the right time with just over a minute left in the game, and he sealed a previously touchdown-free game with a pick-6. carter gets 4 of 5 motorcycle helmets for a game well played.
There wasn’t a whole lot to be discouraged about, aside from the slow-developing offense. The starters on both sides of the ball barely played, so most of my concerns fell on the shoulders of backups and likely cuts. The defense did step up this week, and provided plenty of turnovers to please my appetite.
Since it was the final game and we got little to no looks at the starters, I’m refraining from pointing out too many blemishes in this edition. I can assure you, that will not be the case once the regular season gets underway.
I hope you enjoyed the preseason installments of MMCNY. It was a learning experience, but also tons of fun. When the games are for real, be sure to add your own critiques, either in the comments, or emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. If they’re good enough, they might even make the final cut as MMCNY points of interest. Til then…