Over 24 hours have passed since the Pittsburgh Steelers found their way to an early exit in the AFC Playoff picture at the hands of the Denver Broncos. Not one Steeler fan or broadcaster gave Tim Tebow the honest credit he deserved. They said he looked as though he lost self confidence, they said he could never hang with the Steelers defense and they were all wrong.
Tebow proved everyone wrong and continues to prove he is redefining the way the quarterback position is played. He is also winning as he's doing it, as he did in high school and as he did at Florida. The Steelers simply couldn't match his big plays and that was the difference. Some may blame Roethlisberger's injured ankle but honestly the big plays were not obtained by the Steelers.
Tim Tebow Offense - Let's face it and be honest Tim Tebow earned his keep and was simply better than the Steelers defense. He made key passes in specific situations and the game plan for attacking the Steelers was amazing.
The Broncos mixed a combination of running the ball forcing the Steelers defenders into honoring the run and when they bit on the run Tebow hit to the air leaving man coverage. This was part of the reason why Ike Taylor had such a terrible day as he had no help over the top in Ryan Mundy who was overly concerned about stopping that running attack. Also playing without the presence of the leading tackler on the team in the regular season Ryan Clark likely played a factor as well.
Wide Receiver Drops - The Steelers wide receivers did a terrible job of catching the ball on Sunday. Wallace dropped that big pass play across the middle, Jerricho Cotchery dropped one as did several others. Big plays are required in playoff games and the receiving corp picked the wrong time to come up with their worst game of the season.
Injuries - There are many areas to point to for this loss, the most convenient has to be the injuries that happened early in the game with Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel both bowing out early. It's good that Mike Tomlin never uses that as an excuse when the team falls short.
Offensive Problems – The Steelers offense had a great deal of problems with the Broncos defense and those didn't come until the first quarter was over. It was almost like the Steelers offense used all they had in the first quarter but once the second quarter rolled around John Fox issued adjustments that the Steelers couldn't figure out. The offensive game plan wasn't very good as they didn't get the ball in the hands of the fast receiver often enough early in the game. It's pretty bad when Mike Wallace only touched the ball four times in the entire game. Also Bruce Arians should have had Roethlisberger in more shotgun sets, which would have given him more time and force him to run less. The game plan was thriving in the first quarter but certainly didn't last as the defensive adjustments by the Broncos were never countered by the Steelers.
Ike – What can you say about the day he had on Sunday? It was likely his worst as a pro and his inability to switch to man coverage has really left people wondering why he was so ineffective. This is a guy who has two rings, has been solid all year, is supposed to be one of the veterans and then in the playoffs he cannot handle the Broncos receivers in the open field. Taylor has many thinking he deserved a pro bowl trip after his virtually mistake free season, but now thinking back to Sunday's game it leads to the question – is he just a product of the 3-4 and is he only good because he has over the top help with two all pro caliber safeties on the back end in Clark and Troy Polamalu? We will never know but this can likely stay with Taylor for the entire offseason after allowing that 80-yard scoring play.
Isaac Redman - Redman was solid on Sunday against the Broncos as he eclipsed 100 yards in a playoff game and further underlined his importance going forward in the Steelers offseason. If the Steelers ever want to go back to ground and pound Redman can be the guy to lead the charge as he proved in Denver on Sunday.
Lack Of Pressure - It's not just Taylor's fault for allowing the Broncos to move the ball, the pass rush was once again ineffective. While they did at times get heat on Tebow they didn't force bad decisions and didn't force sacks. This is an element of the Steelers game that has seemingly disappeared over the course of this season and needs to be remedied before next season begins.
Lack Of Turnovers - This was another issue this year as the defense couldn't find ways to come up with a big turnover in key moments. While they did come up with that fumble recovery late in the fourth that wasn't turned into the game winning points, that was the only time in the game that a key turnover was made. This was a signature of the Super Bowl teams over the last few years and somehow the 2011 defense never figured this puzzle out.
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