Another One Bites The Dust
Pittsburgh 32 – New Orleans 35
It’s safe to say even in Game 12 the Steelers have still not found the recipe for success, but they have certainly found the formula to lose games and play down to lesser competition. Each successive lose to inferior teams has held the same scenario, missed opportunities, field goals instead of touchdowns, and of course giving the ball back to the other team. Throw in the Defense getting burned for big plays, and you’ve got the story of the 2014 schizophrenic Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sundays match-up against the 4-7 New Orleans Saints followed that same script, just as it has in each of the Steelers embarrassing loses to every other bottom feeder in the NFL. They were behind 14-3 going into the half, then came out just as sluggish at the start of the third quarter. I think the question now becomes, not why they play down to lesser competition, but does Big Ben actually practice with the team, or just show up for games?
Simply put, Big Ben stunk! He overthrew everyone, the receivers were getting open but instead of laying the ball in their gut, he just let it sail. Big Ben was 8-22 for 115 yards and 1 interception in the first half, and he earned every bit of it. He was trying his best to throw an interception, but the Saints DB’s were dropping the ball. That is until late in the second quarter he lobbed it up for grabs on a deep ball to Darius Heyward-Bey, had Ben threw towards the pylon, it would have been a TD versus an easy pick for New Orleans.
The rest of the Offense seemed ready to play, the offensive line was getting pushed around a bit, but Big Ben had plenty of time to make his throws and make plays, he just didn’t.
The Steelers Defense acquitted themselves in the first quarter, and that was about it. Just when you thought this team was going to hit it’s stride, they looked as if they were playing an exhibition game. Remember now that New Orleans was coming off a Monday Night beat down against the Ratbirds, capping off a 3 games loosing streak that wasn’t showing any signs of ending. Until of course they came to Pittsburgh with a 1-7 road record, didn’t matter as they completely took over the game and gashed the Dick Lebeau lead defense both on the ground and in the air.
The Steelers conversely, were coming off their bye week and should have been completely rested and ready to finish out the five game stretch in dominant fashion. Additionally, they were hosting a 40 Year Anniversary for the 1974 team that won it’s first Super Bowl, a festive occasion indeed which should have served as impedes to go out and kick butt. Unfortunately the Defense laid another huge smelly egg, giving up drives of 79 yards, 80 yards, 15 yards, 89 yards, 80 yards. They spent a lot of time on the field getting gashed.
Drew Brees had a banner day, going 19 of 27 for 257 yards, throwing 5 touchdowns and sacked only once. The amazing thing is their top receiver, Jimmy Graham, not only didn’t have a catch, was not even targeted. Okay, we know this Defense is not going to be confused with the Steel Curtain, but you’d like to think they would’ve been rested and motivated to hold their own.
It’s been four month’s since Antonio Brown had a decent punt return, and that was in game 1. The kick offs have improved a smidgen since they’ve allowed Marcus Wheaton to return, however more often than not those smidgens get called back with some type of penalty. Sean Suisham was two of two attempts with a 54 yard boot was aided and abetted by the wind, a good slice.
It’s difficult to tell sometimes whether Todd Haley actually writes up a game plan, or simply wings it as the game unfolds. Just as they started to move the ball Haley calls for a flee flicker on the sixth play of the opening drive. Now a flee flicker is a play you call maybe once a year, Haley has a tendency to throw in the trick plays at the wrong time, and this was certainly the wrong time.
It’s hard to read Coach Tomlin at times, we know he hates to lose, but you have to ask yourself, is this the best he could do? Tomlin used to have his teamed ready to play right out of the gate, and it would be unfair to say he didn’t have them ready for this one, however there just has to be more interaction with his players, specifically his signal caller.
Don’t get your hopes up, 11-5 is not going to happen with two games against the Bungles, the Cheifs, and a road game against the Falcons. That’s just the reality, the only upside from yesterdays debacle is that the Ratbirds and the Browns both lost. It doesn’t matter what the Bungles do, they’re not going to the SB, so at this point we’ll take what we can get from this rag-tag squad of ne’re-do-wells.