NFL Wire News

Steelers trying to get WR Brown involved on offense

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The Sports Xchange

PITTSBURGH — Quarterback Mike Vick got the Pittsburgh Steelers a much-needed victory with two late touchdown drives in the final 7:42. They are now 1-1 without Ben Roethlisberger and beat a team on the road that they could be battling for a playoff berth at the end of the season.

As well as Vick played in the fourth quarter, it’s fair to wonder if the Steelers can continue to win with Vick as the quarterback. Next up is a date with the Arizona Cardinals (4-1) at Heinz Field on Sunday followed by a road date at Kansas City.

In two starts, Vick is 32 for 52 for 327 yards. Roethlisberger routinely threw for more than 300 yards a game last season when he led the Steelers to an average of 411 yards per game. Vick has labored to produce those types of numbers in two contests.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has to find a way to get All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown more involved in games. When he caught only four passes for 45 yards against the Ravens, it was blamed on the lack of preparation time because it was a short week before the Thursday night game.

With 10 days to prepare for the Chargers and Vick admitting Brown had to be more involved, he could only get the ball to him three times for 45 yards. That must change against the Cardinals.

The Steelers continue to run the ball well, but they’ll be hard-pressed to beat the Cardinals, or the Chiefs for that matter, if the passing offense does not improve.

REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: D. Mike Vick was 13 for 26 for 203 yards, but 72 of those came on one play – a touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton. Vick and Antonio Brown still haven’t developed much chemistry. Brown had three receptions for 45 yards, the second consecutive game he’s had fewer than 50 receiving yards after going 35 consecutive games with at least five receptions and 50 yards. Wheaton, the starter opposite Brown, registered just that 72-yard touchdown catch.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: A. The Steelers did exactly what they were supposed to do against the NFL’s 29th-ranked rush defense. They ran 27 times for 155 yards for a healthy 5.7 yards-per-carry average. Le’Veon Bell had 111 of those yards, including the all-important 1-yard run out of the wildcat formation as time expired to win the game.

–PASS DEFENSE: B. Cornerback Antwon Blake returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter that gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead, but Phillip Rivers threw for 365 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers had a difficult time covering Chargers tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green, who combined to catch 14 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

–RUN DEFENSE: A. The Steelers held the Chargers to 52 yards on 19 carries. It was a nice bounce-back performance after allowing 191 yards on the ground in their previous game against the Ravens. Chargers rookie first-round pick Melvin Gordon was held to 42 yards and his longest run of the night was seven yards.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus. The Steelers had four special teams penalties in the first half. That meant poor field position for a struggling offense, and the Steelers only managed a field goal as a result. Kickoff returner Dri Archer and punt returner Brown also failed to flip field position.

–COACHING: B. Mike Tomlin was aggressive and went for the win instead of the tie on the road. That decision worked. The offensive game plan did not work. The 72-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton, in fact, was drawn up by Ben Roethlisberger on the sideline, according to Mike Vick. The defensive game plan did work for the most part as the Steelers’ front sacked Phillip Rivers three times and pressured him into several incomplete passes.


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