Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain checks in with his latest On the Blitz column, breaking down some of the key plays in Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Going into the Minnesota game, it was definitely our game plan to limit their running game and make the young quarterback beat us.
For the most part we did a great job containing both backs. Other than the one big play, they were pretty much shut down, but obviously the one play hurt. We had the right call on the play and they ran right into the blitz, but a couple of guys were out of place and the running back was able to exploit us. Then there were a couple of missed tackles downfield and with that caliber of back, you can't make those mistakes and it definitely cost us.
We played an eight man box most of the game and although we maybe were a little lighter in the back end, it definitely helped stop the run and guys were able to set the edge while guys on the inside were able to stay in their gaps and take care of their assignments.
I think Tarvaris Jackson is an up and coming quarterback. He was able to make some good throws, but we were able to limit his numbers and his scrambling. We didn't get the sacks but a few times he was stopped after a yard or two which is good that we didn't allow him to open up the game with a bunch of big scrambles because he's definitely a player who can run.
On one of the turnovers I think they had the ball at our 23 and we were able to hold them to a field goal. We haven't always been able to do that, and that's something we've got to continue to do if we want a chance to win games.
I thought Shaun Hill did a pretty good job considering he's had limited reps and wasn't expected to play. I thought the touchdown drive that he had was pretty impressive. I think he's a guy who showed his ability in the preseason and he always gives us a good look as the scout quarterback. I've always felt he was very capable of getting the job done and he exhibited that in Sunday's game.
Other plays that stuck out to me were a couple of nice tackles for losses. I thought Joe Staley had a pretty big hit on Adrian Peterson that fired everyone up. Walt Harris was able to force a fumble that Willis managed to come up with in the pile which was big.
Maurice Hicks did a great job with his two long kickoff returns and I thought Nate Clements did a good job returning punts. He's definitely a guy who is very exceptional at that task. He can create a big play at any moment and I'm sure the coaches will continue to utilize his abilities as a return man.
So my former team continues on with their undefeated streak. I guess there was a lot of fuss made about one of the Steelers players guaranteeing a win. Guys who guarantee wins aren't saying it to insult the other team though. I think it's to put more pressure on themselves to have a good game and to really force their own team to step up. The bottom line is that you can guarantee a win every week but even if you win, it's not because you guaranteed it, but rather that you went out and played the way you should have. If you lose though, it makes you look pretty bad. I guaranteed a win versus Atlanta and we ended up losing, but I did so as more of a psychological push for our own team.
Anyhow, I guess Tom Brady had a little push and shove match pregame. I played with him, and he's a fiery guy. He doesn't back down from anyone so I'm not surprised. I think he gets portrayed as this golden boy, but he's a fierce competitor who will get after anybody.
In other news, Seattle clinched our division, something I wouldn't have expected at the beginning of the season. They've played much better during this back stretch. Matt Hasselbeck has been playing very well and they are still doing what it takes to win.
I really believe we've got everything it takes to win, but we have just let games slip away and this season has really escaped us. I think we missed out on a chance to do something big and that hurts. It's a large disappointment for all of us, and we know our fans feel that way also.
We've got three games left and we'll just keep swinging.