- Against the Titans the Steelers abandoned any semblance of that black-shades of grey- white continuum, answering the many “ifs” confronting them with resounding “no’s.”
Tale of Two Halves – The First Half Promise
The NFL preseason is meaningless, but one of the mysteries it left Steelers Nation this year also serves as a perfect metaphor for the Bengals game.
What to make of results in meaningless games where backups may have been wanting, but where a limited (read healthy) subset of the starters did “OK” when not beating themselves?
Pittsburgh Tribune Review writer Mark Kaboly summarized a similar puzzle that now faces the 0-2 Steelers:
Take away Redman and Paulson first-quarter fumbles past 2 weeks and replace with TD and I'd like to see how those games played out.The Steelers began the game with a statement of sorts, returning the opening kickoff 34 yards. That resulted in a three and out which the Steelers defense dutifully matched.
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) September 17, 2013
- Antonio Brown responded again, returning a punt for 40 yards.
- Clearly, the Steelers had no intention of feeling sorry for themselves after the Titans embarrassment.
The Steelers failed to convert a third down prior to the two minute warning. When Ben Roethlisberger’s passes weren’t high they landed well in front of the receivers. They failed to establish the run.
- Yet the Steelers defense managed to confuse Andy Dalton, or else Dalton was misfiring on his own passes.
- But even when the 2013 Steelers wound themselves in the foot, they still can’t shoot straight.
It was that kind of half for the Steelers. Yet, in spite of it all the Steelers found themselves with the ball at the 4:13 mark, Roethlisberger went into no huddle and two passes to Emmanuel Sanders later the Steelers were at the on.
- Another one to Derrick Moye and the Steelers had the game tied at 10-10.
And in one half held Pittsburgh’s implicit promise of 2013 – if the Steelers could only stop beating themselves, they’re a team that might go places.
Second Half – Steelers Embrace Their Peril
Story spinners might seek to wave a tale that revolves around the Steelers second half hopes disintegrating with a bogus tripping penalty called on Marcus Gilbert that nullified a 33 yard catch by Brown.
- The penalty was bogus, but pay the apologists who use it as an excuse no mind.
And that’s what makes this one sting so badly.
- Ben Roethlisberger may have only been sacked twice, but he got hit six times
- When not under duress, Roethlisberger continued with his erratic passing
- Unlike the first half, the Steelers running game didn’t even feign an appearance
- But Cincinnati nickled and dimed the Steelers defense.
Dick LeBeau has instructed Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, and Cameron Heyward to take a more active role in pressuring the quarterback.
And they have, somewhat successfully. Yet they haven’t come up with a sack, and the middle of the Steelers defense is suddenly vulnerable for the first time since Joel Steeds knees disintegrated in 1999.
- This does not bode well, especially when the Steelers are 0-2 for the season and have recorded zero turnovers.
- That in a nutshell is the story of the night.
Pittsburgh defense gang tackled the Bengals running backs just as Cincinnati’s defenders gang tackled Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. The difference is that Bengals backs went down 3 or 4 yards past the line of scrimmage; Steelers backs were lucky if the got there.
All of this simply shows you that, while isn’t doing itself any favors with turnovers and penalties, even when those mental issues aren’t factors, the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers simply have not shown they’re capable of playing good football.
- Ryan Clark is right. The Pittsburgh Steelers cannot win the way they’re playing now.