Over 24 hours have passed since the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night and there is a lot to assess in that defeat. If the Steelers had won they would have finally gotten a leg up on the Baltimore Ravens, they would have taken over the top spot in the AFC as the rest of the stars aligned in the Houston Texans losing and several other random occurrences taking place in week 15. However the Steelers achieved non of those accomplishments because they lost to the leagues finest defense and now are back in the No.5 spot in the AFC and are still looking up at the Ravens.
Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward - These two young defensive linemen played very good games against the Niners front. These two are both improving every week and it won't be long before they are the new blood controlling the Steelers defensive line. It's inspiring to see the defensive players of the future pitching in now to the cause.
The Offense - 389 yards of offense, 31 minutes of possession time – you'd think this was a good stat line if that's all you saw on the box score. What your definitely missing is the four turnovers. They did control the ball between the 40's but couldn't put any points on the board in the red zone. Also Ben Roethlisberger tried forcing the ball in spots where he shouldn't have.
Mendenhall - Rashard Mendenhall began to find his legs against the leagues best defense against the run. He rushed for 64 yards on 15 attempts, and although hasn't broken a big run in a while, he was very effective against the Niners.
The Defense - The defense played a very good game and held their own for quite a while. Through the first half they held the Niners to just six points, but couldn't get the offense to play off of their emotions. The defense will have to continue to play as they did in the first three quarters against the Rams in week 16. While the first three quarters were played very well, they couldn't hold it together late in the game as the Niners piled on the points in the fourth quarter.
Clock Management – This has really been terrible this year. Especially at the end of the first half against the Niners when they let good field position and a sufficient amount of timeouts, but couldn't get into field goal range. Roethlisberger has to be better about spiking the ball and conserving clock time. Also they went into the half with a time out still in their pocket. Getting a game tying field goal at the end of the first half would have livened the Steelers spirits heading into the rest of the game. As we all know momentum is big in football and the Steelers let opportunities go to waste especially on Monday Night.
Ben - Despite losing the game, Roethlisberger's efforts were inspiring to the rest of his team. If you were on a team and your leader would stand up and do that and show to the rest of the team that he would put it on the line for a win is something to be noted. Although he wasn't successful Roethlisberger has proved time and again that he is true leader on this Steelers team.
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