Labriola On

Labriola on the win over the Seahawks

In just one game, you got a little bit of everything. Some of what would give you cause to be optimistic the Steelers are pulling themselves out of their 1-3 start. Soon to be followed by some of the very same stuff that put them in the hole in the first place. Awe-inspiring followed by head-scratching, and then back again. "Wow!" "What?" "Yes!" "*&%$^#!"

Maybe that's why it required overtime to fit it all in.

The climax to the Steelers' Alumni Weekend that showcased the return of many of the franchise's great players turned out to be a roller coaster ride disguised as an NFL regular season game between a couple of 2-3 teams, both of which were forecast to be more than 2-3 teams, but as the evening unfolded both of them presented plenty of evidence why they in fact were 2-3 teams.

The Steelers now are 3-3, though, because of some timely, clutch bursts of individual competence combined with a resilience that just might be their most dependable trait. And on the couple of occasions when the Steelers needed some help, the Seahawks obliged and volleyed the ball into the net. And just to remind the 60,821 customers and a national television audience that they were not to be ignored, the officials inserted themselves into the festivities and took a shot at determining the outcome of the game.

Alas, it ended with a 23-20 victory by the Steelers that was made official by Chris Boswell's 37-yard field goal with 2:50 left in the overtime period, a victory that raised their record to 3-3 but fell short of definitively stamping them as a team on the rise.

Through the scoreless first quarter, the Seahawks were playing like a team missing its starting quarterback, while the Steelers were playing like a team that had forgotten the offensive strides made the previous Sunday vs. Denver – staying ahead of the chains, creating third-and-manageable situations and then converting them, and hitting some chunk plays down the field.

By halftime the Steelers had found a way to put together a pair of touchdown drives, pretty though they weren't, while the defense had shut down the Seahawks to the tune of three first downs, 65 total net yards, and 1-for-6 (16.7 percent) on third downs.

Seattle punter Michael Dickson had more punts by halftime that leading rusher Alex Collins had carries, more punts than leading receiver D.K. Metcalf had catches, almost as many punts as quarterback Geno Smith had completions.

The Steelers led, 14-0, at halftime, and it seemed the perfect time to honor the Alumni in attendance and bathe them in the adulation they had earned by authoring so many of the great moments in franchise history. But when it came time to go back to playing football, the Steelers defense was a no-show.

Seattle took the second half kickoff, and even though its No. 1 running back had been placed on injured reserve a couple of days before, that didn't seem to matter to the Seahawks running attack or to the Steelers defense.

Alex Collins for 5. Collins for 11. Collins for 21, and the ball was into Steelers territory at the 38-yard line. A 9-yard pass gave the infantry time to catch its breath, and then the Seahawks were right back at it. DeeJay Dallas for 5. Back to Collins for 7. Collins for 5 that became 8 after a half-the-distance penalty on the Steelers for unnecessary roughness. Collins stopped for no gain. Collins again, this time for 2 and the touchdown – 14-7.

The Steelers answered with their own drive , but they had to settle for a field goal when Chase Claypool and Chuks Okorafor both were flagged for illegal block above the waist to set up a second-and-20 from the 27-yard line. So much for staying ahead of the chains. Boswell cashed it in with a 27-yard field goal to restore some of what had been lost, but the Seahawks went right back to their infantry, and it was made too easy by poor tackling.

It started with a 38-yard kickoff return, then came a 16-yard completion to Tyler Lockett followed by a 38-yarder to Greg Everett, and the points came from a 1-yard pass to Will Dissly. Now it seemed as though the Steelers had no answer for anything the Seattle offense wanted to do – 17-14, and it was on.

"Man, they had a great plan. Kudos to those guys. They had a great plan," said Coach Mike Tomlin about Seattle's success running the ball. "They won the line of scrimmage. We didn't get off enough blocks and things of that nature. We didn't tackle well enough. Collins ran really well. I won't take anything away from them."

In fact, it seemed as though the Steelers might have been giving, because they played a good bit of nickel during the Seahawks onslaught, which helped create some of the physical matchups that allowed Collins to find holes consistently and get into the secondary with little resistance.

Four plays into the fourth quarter, the game was tied, and the Steelers were looking for a hero, for somebody to step up and make a play. Offense, defense, special teams. It didn't really matter. But while the Steelers were doing enough to preserve the stalemate, they couldn't seem to break out.

When Boswell nailed a 52-yard field goal with 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter, it looked like he might be the guy, but it turned out instead that referee Shawn Smith and replay official Mike Wimmer tried to be the guys.

The Seahawks were out of timeouts, and with 18 seconds left they were at the Steelers 35-yard line. Smith completed a pass to D.K. Metcalf along the left sideline (tick-tick-tick), who clearly made the catch (tick-tick-tick), and then clearly had the ball punched out by James Pierre (tick-tick-tick), which clearly was recovered by Freddie Swain (tick-tick-tick) on the field of play at the Steelers 25-yard line.

The scoreboard then showed triple zeroes, which typically means the game is over. But for some unknown reason, the replay official stopped play to review the catch-fumble-recovery sequence that should have been apparent to everyone paying attention. After review, the call on the field was upheld (SHOCKING), and as part of the administrative process, three seconds were added to the game clock. That gift allowed Seattle to line up and spike the ball at the 25-yard line, which allowed enough time for Jason Myers to stroll onto the field and kick the game-tying 43-yard field goal as time expired.

The Seahawks won the overtime coin toss and elected to receive, but Cam Heyward broke into the backfield to dump DeeJay Dallas for a 4-yard loss on first-and-10 from midfield, and that set up a subsequent third-and-4 when T.J. Watt sacked Smith for a 13-yard loss to push the Seahawks out of field goal range. Seattle got the ball back after a Steelers' three-and-out, and on this first down, Watt finished the job. He strip-sacked Smith this time, and Devin Bush recovered at the 16-yard line.

The Steelers used two plays to get the ball perfectly lined up for Boswell, whose 37-yard field goal ended it.

"It's awesome. That's what we expect from them," said Ben Roethlisberger about having the defense step up and save the day. "That's why we think they're the best in the business. We hate that it got to overtime, and then once we get the ball (in overtime) we'd like to go finish the game, and it was unfortunate we didn't do it offensively, but our defense came up with a play when we needed it, and Boz iced it like we expect."

Whew.

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