Home > Morning Cuts, Steelers > Morning Cuts: Steelers Reax Edition

Morning Cuts: Steelers Reax Edition

On Saturday, I said:

 Peyton Manning might be gone, but Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are still there, and they’re going to absolutely terrorize the Steelers’ woeful offensive line. If Mendenhall can’t get established early and the Steelers have to pass all day, it could get very ugly. I’m also worried that because the Colts have nothing to lose they’ll play fast and loose and catch the Steelers off-guard.

Unfortunately that’s exactly how the game went. Jonathan Scott was completely outmanned by Dwight Freeney all night long as the all-pro defensive end racked up two sacks, three quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. Robert Mathis burned rookie Marcus Gilbert a few times forcing Roethlisberger, who in case you haven’t heard likes to hold on to the ball, into another fumble.

But it wouldn’t be fair to pin the blame solely on Scott and Gilbert, as the entire offensive line (with the exception of Maurkice Pouncey, who was decent, but far from great) was pushed around at will by the Colts front four. While Freeney and Mathis were tasked with rushing Roethlisberger from the perimeter, everyone else in blue jammed the lanes between the tackles making the running game obsolete. As a team the Steelers rushed 28 times for 67 yards. 2.4 yards per carry.

These were the glaring issues. The issues Steeler fans know all too well. Coming into this season it was clear that the offensive line was going to be lousy and Mendenhall would have his work cut out for him. But the things that irk me most aren’t these chronic flaws we’ll be dealing with all season, but the sloppy mistakes that, if the Colts were a decent team, would have cost the Steelers the game.

In no particular order:

  1. Ike Taylor, who is having a terrific season, blowing his coverage and leaving Pierre Garcon wide-open and streaking downfield for a walk-in touchdown in the fourth. If Curtis Painter isn’t Curtis Painter, that’s an easy seven.
  2. Jonathan Scott getting flagged for an illegal formation penalty in the fourth quarter on a third down where Weslye Saunders made a reception at the Colts 27. Saunders was short of the first down but the reception moved the Steelers four yards closer for a field-goal attempt. However the illegal formation penalty nullified the play and moved the Steelers back to the Colts 36. Roethlisberger was sacked on the ensuing play for a loss of nine and the Steelers were forced to punt.
  3. Emmanuel Sanders dropping a perfectly thrown pass for a first down in the second quarter deep in Indy territory.
  4. Shaun Suisham missing the game-tying 36-yard field goal in the third quarter.
  5. Roethlisberger’s unacceptably bad interception inside of two minutes in the second quarter, horribly overthrowing Emmanuel Sanders, followed by Sanders failing to touch the interceper, Lefeged, by explicitly jumping over him instead of touching him, which was then followed by a return to the Steeler 25 that featured a bizarre personal-foul penalty call on Antonio Brown giving the Colts the ball at the Steeler 10. The Colts would cash in with a field goal to end the second half and take a 13-10 lead.
  6. Jonathon Scott failing to recognize that Jamaal Anderson was not down following his recovery of Ben’s fumble in the second quarter. Scott was busy standing around feeling sorry for himself as Anderson fell on top of the ball, rolled to his feet, then dodged his way through defenders for a 47-yard score. Had Scott been paying attention he could have easily prevented Anderson from streaking downfield.
  7. Polamalu dropped two sure interceptions, and Willie Gay had a chance at another.
This is just off the top of my head
To be fair there were some good things that happened, too. Roethlisberger’s 81-yard throw to Mike Wallace in the first quarter was possibly the best deep throw I’ve ever seen out of Ben. The defense was stingy against the run, got heat on Collins and Painter, and scored a touchdown with a crucial fumble return late in the fourth quarter. Antonio Brown was spectacular. And of course, the Steelers came away with the victory.
But if the Steelers have machinations of a return trip to Indianapolis to play in Super Bowl XVI they are absolutely going to have to get their heads out of their asses. The Colts aren’t bad, they’re miserable. They do nothing well. This is the kind of team the Steelers should have dispatched without a sweat, but the  nearly did themselves in with a cavalcade of costly mistakes that handed the Colts the easiest 13 points they’ll score all season. The Colts scored 20 points with only 241 yards of total offense, 80 of which came on their only touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. In a game in which the Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter shared quarterbacking duties, the Steelers squeaked by with a three-point victory.
I’ll leave you with some stats that I think encapsulate the most pressing issues this team is having (offensive line notwithstanding, because that’s the line we’re stuck with and we knew it was going to be like this).
  • The Steelers have allowed 55 points all season. 33 of those points have come off turnovers.
  • The Steelers have turned the ball over ten times in three games. It’s easy math, but that’s almost once per quarter. On average, the Steelers get 3.33 possessions per quarter. They turn the ball over one in every four possessions.
  • The Steelers and the Broncos are the only two teams in all of football who have yet to record an interception.
  • The Steelers turnover differential last year was +17. Through three games this year it is -9.
It isn’t rocket surgery.
Now I will say this. Even if the turnover differential through three games was +/-0, the Steelers still would be 2-1. They never stood a chance against Baltimore, they steamrolled the Seahawks without forcing any turnovers, and in spite of being -2 in turnover differential last night they won. The important thing here is that, for as bad as they have played, they are 2-1. They have the same record as the Ravens, Patriots, Jets, Chargers, and Texans. They can tighten up this ship going forward and they can make the playoffs and they can do damage. Nothing is lost and there is no reason to panic. Their issues are clear and fixable. I just hope they have the right tools.
Categories: Morning Cuts, Steelers
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