Defense may win championships, but it certainly wasn’t enough to win against the Cleveland Browns in Sunday’s game. The defense had a combined total of four sacks and one interception which is a much hoped for improvement. However, the Steelers had eight turnovers in the game which effectively negated any headway from the defense. On the good side Lawrence Timmons has the Steelers first defensive touchdown of the year. Let me say that again, Timmons got the Steelers’ first defensive touchdown in the eleventh game of the season. Just when the Steelers look like they are coming together defensively, the wheels come off on the other side.
I warned everyone to watch their expectations for this game because I thought the offensive continuity had been interrupted enough that it could be a difficult game. Think about it. Yes, Plaxico Burress and Brian Hoyer have a lot of talent and I don’t disagree with signing either of them. But, Baron Batch and Byron Leftwich who have been in that locker room since preseason are now gone. Roethlisberger may be present, but he’s not taking snaps or directing anything. It’s a disruption. Burress is a major contributor to a Superbowl championship for the Steelers, but he hasn’t gelled with this locker room. The players may have a lot of faith in Charlie Batch, and I think he has a lot of talent, but the injuries have disrupted the continuity and cohesion of the offense.
It didn’t help that the offensive line is starting to take a lot of hits. Everyone seems to play the Steelers like they are playing the current superbowl champs and have something to prove. Look at how Oakland and Kansas City played them. Then they went back to playing like they were in Pop Warner or a JV squad. Colon couldn’t start this week, Adams went down and Pouncey took a couple of hard shots. It’s a confluence of things. Once the fumbles started, well, they didn’t stop. I haven’t looked it up, but I swear eight turnovers over a combined 8 fumbles and three interceptions has to be some sort of record. It may not be the most over the franchise history, but it sure seems like it. I have to admit that I was stunned and I can only imagine how the players felt watching turnover after turnover.
I’m a loyal Steelers fan and after a day or two, I’ll look for some positives and look toward the game with the Ravens. But for now, I’m bitterly disappointed. I hope the Steelers players are too. The defense needs to maintain the level of play we saw against the Browns and not let this loss drag them down. Harrison looked better and Timmons stood out again. I’m disappointed that Woodley was out so quickly and wonder if he aggravated the injury from earlier this year. I had speculated that he wasn’t 100% yet. I want to see them put Flacco on his back (gently, gently – we had enough penalties against the Browns) a few times. I want the Steelers to be motivated to hand Baltimore a loss in their own home, perhaps a return-the-favor sort of motivation. If the loss to the worst team in our division helps motivate the Steelers to beat the Ravens, well, I might get over the loss to the Browns sooner. Who am I kidding? This isn’t going to set well for a while, if ever.