Week 14 Recap: Absolutely Pathetic

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If last week’s loss to Oakland theoretically ended the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers made sure to erase all doubt by dropping last night’s game to the lowly Cleveland Browns by a final score of 13-6.   Thanks to the Browns, we’re finally free of any vague hopes of a playoff berth or dreams of a respectable defense of our Super Bowl title.   Now we are finally free to see this season for what it has been all along.  An absolute embarrassment.

Where to begin with this pathetic display.   Let’s start with the Steelers first drive of the day because it pretty much sums up the stupidity we’ve seen all year from this team.  Rashard Mendenhall ran right for 5 yards.   Rashard Mendenhall ran right again for 4 yards.  So on third and 1 (actually about a foot), what do we do?

LINE UP IN SHOTGUN!

Ben Roethlisberger ended up eating a 9 yard sack.  On our next drive, Mendenhall carried for 5 yards on first down.  He carried for 2 more yards on second down.  Wanna guess what we did on third and 3?

LINE UP IN SHOTGUN!

Ben ate another sack, this time losing 10 yards.  And this is how the first half went.  Bruce Arians repeatedly rolled out the Flying Circus and the pitiful Cleveland defense repeatedly sent it packing.  Big Ben was sacked five times in all.  The offensive line broke down on a couple of them but most of the blame belonged to Roethlisberger.

Ben continually wants six or seven seconds to survey every square inch of the field before releasing the damn ball.   If a jailbreak blitz is coming at you, you make a hot read and throw QUICKLY.  Unfortunately, our mush brain QB doesn’t seem capable of doing this.  Between that and his inaccuracy, it’s no shock he finished the game a putrid 18/32 for 201 yards.  If there was ever any doubt the Steelers need to get back to Ben managing the game instead of pretending to be Peyton Manning, this game settled it once and for all.

When Big Ben managed to make a decision, our receivers gave him no help.  Even normally sure-handed Heath Miller dropped a pass right in his chest.  Hines Ward showed why he is the heart and soul of this team by playing with a partially torn hamstring on only three days rest.   You could tell he was in a lot of pain by the way he’d limp back to the huddle.  Unfortunately, Ward’s heroics failed to motivate anybody else on offense as the Steelers did basically nothing until the final minute of the half when a 24 yard pass to Santonio Holmes added to a cheap roughing the QB call that tacked on 15 more resulted in a FG.

Meanwhile, Cleveland’s offense wasn’t doing much better.   Watching Brady Quinn play QB is like watching the Special Olympics.  You appreciate that he’s trying as hard as he can and you kinda admire his scrappy determination but the actual display is frequently difficult to watch.  Guys were open all over the field and he couldn’t get the ball to any of them.  His lone nice pass was a 37 yarder to Mohamed Massaquoi where I defy you to guess who got beat.  That resulted in another FG.  Other than that, the Browns were just fortunate enough to have a one man wrecking crew by the name of Joshua Cribbs.

Cribbs began his assault by returning a punt 55 yards down to the Pittsburgh 8.   Yep, special teams failed us again.  I’ll give you a moment to get over the shock.  The defense held and they only got a FG out of it.   Late in the half, running out of the WildCat, Cribbs took the snap and then blew by half the defense for a 37 yard gain.   Both Tyrone Carter and James Farrior had their hands on him and he broke free until Mister Woodley finally rode him down.

Farrior had a brutal game.   Probably his worst ever in a Steeler uniform.  I don’t know what happened from last year to this one but he looks completely washed up.  The Browns ran directly at him and Travis Kirschke all night.   For example, after the big Cribbs gain, they handed the ball to somebody named Chris Jennings.   After breaking another Farrior tackle for 9 yards, on the next play he blew right by him before running over Will.i.am Gay for a 10 yard TD.  It was the first rushing TD for the Browns this year.

I repeat, THE FIRST BROWNS RUSHING TD THIS SEASON.

Slapped In The Face By Irony #1: The one play that might have injected some life into this lifeless team was when Cleveland fumbled a punt which was recovered by the Steelers in enemy territory.  That play was nullified by a holding call on the Steelers.  The man who was held?   Arnold Harrison.

You know, the guy Mike Tomlin cut as the scapegoat for his shitty coaching.

As we rolled into halftime with the Browns up 13-3, the Steelers had a grand total of 75 yards of total offense.  If you read my Know Thy Enemy preview, you’d recall the Browns were on pace to allow more yards than any other team THIS DECADE.  And yet all we could muster was 75 yards of total offense.  Unbelievable.

In the third quarter, things got so dire that Holmes actually came out to run back punts.  He didn’t accomplish anything but I appreciate the effort.  The Browns spent most of the third quarter playing STILLER FOOTBALL, ie running out the clock and controlling time of possession.   We spent the quarter playing Flying Circus.  It finally began to work when we went hurry up and Ben connected with Miller for 22 yards and then a dump off to Mendy netted 17 more.  But a sack and an incomplete deep ball left us with only another Skippy FG for our efforts.

In the fourth quarter, Cleveland continued to mix WildCat snaps to Cribbs with runs to this Jennings person.  When the Steelers had the ball, it was pretty much All Shotgun-All The Time as they desperately tried to score a tying TD.   Actually, that’s not accurate.  “Desperate” infers desire and passion.  The team looked like they were going through the motions.  Balls were either overthrown or dropped.  Dumb penalties would cost them yards.   And more sacks were surrendered, bringing the grand total to 8 for the night.

Slapped In The Face By Irony #2: The Browns ran the clock down to 3 seconds left in the game.   They had to run a fourth down play and chose to punt the ball to the Steelers.   Holmes was out in a last ditch attempt to run one back for the game-tying score.   Sadly, the Browns special teams do not suck and he was tackled shortly after fielding the kick.  The man who made the tackle?    Arnold Harrison.

And that’s a fitting end for our season.  The man Tomlin cut because he is seemingly incapable of actual coaching ends up putting the kibosh on all our hopes and dreams.  Meanwhile, our #1 rated rush defense gave up 171 yards to the WORST OFFENSE IN THE NFL.   Our Flying Circus offense couldn’t score one touchdown against the WORST DEFENSE IN THE NFL.  And fourteen weeks later, we still can’t play special teams.

This game was an absolutely pathetic display by the Steelers.  Never do I remember seeing a Steeler team basically give up on a game or a season.  Look, I can handle losing.   Sometimes your team isn’t that good or sometimes your opponent is just better.   But even with some key injuries, this is still the defending Super Bowl champions.   Bill Cowher‘s final team in 2006, the year he “phoned it in,” played hard right up until that final game when they put the kibosh on the playoff hopes of the Cincinnati Bengals.  I don’t see that in this year’s club.   This is a bunch of losers with a loser mentality.  I honestly don’t think we’re going to win another game.

It’s a sad day to be a member of Steeler Nation.

Topics: 2009 Nfl Playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Big Ben, Bill Cowher, Black And Gold, Black And Gold Blog, Browns Steelers Rivalry, Bruce Arians, Charlie Batch, Chris Jennings, Cleveland Browns, Dennis Dixon, Fast Willie Parker, Fire Arians, Fire Tomlin, Fwp, Hines Ward, Ike Taylor, James Farrior, Joshua Cribbs, Lamarr Woodley, Mike Tomlin, Nfl Playoffs, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers Blog, Rashard Mendenhall, Ratbirds, Ravens-Steelers, Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger Concussion, Santonio Holmes, Steeler Nation, Steelers, Steelers Blog, Steelers Nation, Stillers, Super Bowl Champions, Super Bowl Hangover, Thursday Night Football, Troy Polamalu, William Gay

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  • JLaw

    You hit it on the head again. They obviously wanted it and Steelers didn’t. I’ve got nothing clever to say. I’m perplexed.

  • craig

    it was 8 sacks! GO BROWNS!!

  • KTown

    6 of them, yes. More than any other franchise. So, there that is. The problem isn’t that this team didn’t repeat, despite a favorable schedule and virtually the same roster (still would like to have McFadden back at CB though). It is how completely unraveled this team has become seemingly overnight and how little effort it appears that the vets, leaders, talent and, yes, coaches seem to have put into correcting the course of this plummeting aircraft. KC, Oakland, and now Cleveland? Wow, and I mean “Wow!” It takes a special brand of disinterest (which was EVERYWHERE last night) to allow this collapse to have happened. The O line was as pathetic as it’s ever been. Here’s hoping we see some youth (Foster, Urbik, Hills) installed there in the next few weeks just to see if we have anything behind those who lined up, stood up, and watched the game pass them by last night. Here’s hoping that we see a little more of Dennis Dixon the next 3 games so that we know if he is to be our back-up next season. Here’s hoping for more of Mike Wallace (one of the few bright spots this season) and Limas Sweed (a continuing disappointment) and less of Santonio “I made that one catch, so let me alone” Holmes. Wallace for development and Sweed for hope, and if he fails, a quick hook next camp(why waste any more time on him if he doesn’t take advantage of this last chance?). Here’s hoping, too, that Key Fox replaces James Farrior (congrats on a great career, sir, seriously), whose age somehow advanced to the retirement level once he re-signed for his last big NFL paycheck. Here’s hoping that Keenen Lewis, Joe Burnett and even Ryan Mundy are played more in the secondary just to see exactly how many DBs this team will have to draft this offseason. Finally, here’s hoping that the “leaders” of this team get together this offseason in a padlocked room and have a lengthy and candid conversation about how they allowed this team to implode from the inside-out and precisely how to avoid doing the same next year. Finally, here’s hoping that Coach “Hands Off” Tomlin attends that meeting.

  • “O”

    One of my buddies is a Raiders fan and another is a Kansas City fan. They both have been loving this streak were on and have been letting me have it. They only thing I can tell them is that we must really suck to lose to your teams. I still put these injuries on the lack of practice that our vets had this preseason, and during the regular season. Non injury related days off get you out of playing condition and out of sink with everyone else. Coach Tomlin gave numerous days off, and limited participation to many of our players that are hurt right now. This is what put us in this position that we are in. You play like you practice and when you don’t practice you get hurt our are off. Either timing our continuity. It does also seem like we have no heart. Have forgotten our roots and are trying to change into the colts. We dont run the ball down peoples throats, don’t make stops on third down, don’t close games, special teams looks like “special” teams. Your only as good as your coaches and they are not that good. I don’t understand how this happens in one season but we need answers and solutions. One of which better be the end to the flying circus. BA has to go.
    Go Steelers

  • Todd

    Yep, absolutely pathetic. Horrible protection for Ben…Ben holding the ball WAY too long…Ben with zero accuracy…dropped balls everywhere…horrible special teams…no pressure at all on Quinn…horrible playcalling…just torture to watch. At least there’s no chance of embarrassing ourselves in the playoffs.

  • JLaw

    I’m still at a loss with this season, hell in a hand basket outta nowhere. Went from 6-2 to to this. Was there something that happened that I missed? Other than Troy being hurt? Grant it he is a once in a decade type player but damn he is just one on a team of many and only plays D. Last time I checked the offense is suckin just as much ass as the D.
    Caught a brief clip of Tomlins press conference on tv today. Didn’t seem motivated surprised or have much to say about any of this. Only thing that caught my attention was we need to win a game, again I’m in MO so I probably don’t get the input you guys that live there do. Did he have anything valid to say?
    “O” I’m there with ya, my cowboys and rams fans friends call or text me daily to remind me if the latest travesty. BA better go sooner rather than later.
    “ktown” I agree to start the 2nd, 3rd stringers along with the rooks so we can get the answers to the secondary issues. Rest Hines and Troy for rest of the season so they can come back healthier next year. Except let’s do it after the Ratbirds game cause I really don’t care for them to have a chance in hell at a wildcard spot.
    Go Steelers!

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    Ktown, I totally agree with you about playing the backup and rooks. Nobody with the team wants to come out and say it but these final three games should be treated like preseason games. Play the starters enough to get their reps in and then empty the bench. We’ve seen enough of Gay or Kirschke or Hines. It’s far more important to find out if Burnett, Ziggy, and Sweed can be useful.

    And I know this isn’t going to be popular among crazed Ben worshipers but Dixon needs to see significant playing time, including at least one more start. Batch was a great backup because he had 5 years of starting experience before he came here. Dix needs to face real life NFL competition, not preseason crap against 3rd stringers.

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    O, you make a great point there. The seeds for this failure were definitely planted in training camp when Tomlin ran what the press called “Camp Cupcake.” His first season he was a total badass (he benched Hampton for almost the entire preseason for being fat) and then this season I think they were off more than they practiced. No wonder why they tend to wilt and fade during 4th quarters. Yet another mistake on the long list of Tomlin’s failures this season.

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    JLaw, there is no point in paying attention to Tomlin press conferences. He’s a lying weasel and nothing he says has any validity to it. That’s why I never paid attention to his injury reports on Tuesdays, because he always lied. Lately, he promised to “unleash hell” and the team came out lazy, unfocused, and laid an egg against Oakland. He promised to change “our schemes and the players in those schemes” yet they ran out the same plays and same players 95% of the time yesterday. He just says what he thinks people want to hear.

  • “O”

    Chris did I hear right today (12/13) that Bruce has his head on the chopping block?

  • JLaw

    I’ve not heard anything like that but I’m all for it if he continues the flying circus bulls**t. Please do share!

  • Todd

    Maybe we should rearrange our schedule to play the Bucs…they could use a win, too.

  • Andy

    I’m loving it, welcome to loserdom Pittsburgh. Hope you have a nice long stay.