The Steelers have been inconsistent with their play all season long. One week they come together when the chips are down and pull out an emotional win in a hostile Baltimore battle. The next, they are getting ram rodded and smoked by a 5-8 team on the verge of firing their coach. They kinda look like the Cowboys at times (oh god I think I just puked in my mouth a bit). Well, there is one thing the Steelers are consistent with – how they lose to bad teams (Raiders, Titans, Browns, and Chargers).
The Steelers’ turnover differential is a whopping -13. I know that some of that is grossly understated because they were a -7 against the Browns a couple weeks ago. The defense ranks a dismal 28th in turnovers with 12. The Dolphins, Chiefs, Colts, and Eagles are either tied or fair worse – great company to be with, right? In every single loss this season to the sub-.500 teams , the Steelers are either even or at a minus in the turnover column. The offense is bound to turn the ball over, but the once dependable ‘splash’ plays that defined this defense over the last decade are as dried up as the Sahara Desert. Those teams capitalized on those turnovers, scoring a touchdown’s worth of points or more.
Poor Field Position
Hey, did you know the Steelers had the #1 ranked defense in the league? Yeah well giving up the fewest amount of rushing yards and overall yards in the league doesn’t mean squat if the opposing offenses consistently start beyond their own 40 yard line. So even though your defense only gives up on average 170 yards passing per game and 93 yards rushing per game, the offense only has to go only a third or half of the field to score. That equals about 5 separate 60 yard drives. Even really good defenses are bound to give up scores with that kind of short field.
The Offensive Disappears
8 out of 14 games have been decided by six points or less this season – win or lose. Before the Chargers game, the losses to the Titans, Browns, and Raiders were in that category. Let bad teams stick around long enough and they are bound to find a way to beat you. During the Raiders and Titans games, the Steelers had leads going into the fourth quarter and blew those leads. This has happened even in wins against other teams this season, but with Ben Roethlisberger there’s always a chance. In the Browns and Chargers game, the Steelers offense stumbled out of the gate and never got its balance until it was too late. In all four scenarios, the offense disappeared and left the defense to try and keep the game within reach for a 2:00 final drive to win the game. You can’t win every game that way. And great teams certainly don’t roll that dice all season long.
A Vicious Circle
Not surprisingly, all three of these ‘hows’ are interrelated. A lack of offense will cause a team to punt the ball away. Consistently punt the ball deep in your own end from a lack of offense, and you’re opposition starts from beyond the 35/40 yard line. Turn the ball over in seemingly stupid ways in your own end with the defense not answer with a turnover of its own, the opposition is going to score 7 or more points off those turnovers.
These are the things that make it unbearable to watch at times when the Steelers fall to teams like the Raiders, Titans, Browns, and Chargers. I can accept back and forth games where all facets of the team are performing in some manner. I can accept a part of the team like the offensive line get decimated by injury and have a rough day at the office (which was not the case against the Chargers – Marcus Gilbert was the only starting lineman out). I can accept getting beat by a quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady who are good enough to pick apart teams – not like Philip Rivers or Brandon Weeden.
The players and coaches after the game seemed baffled as to why they keep losing to teams like the Chargers. Well gentlemen, above is a start to an obvious list of crap you guys need to work on. As for Mike Tomlin, I’m getting tired of the cow eyed look on the field and in press conferences. Losses like these are something you don’t just magically get over or get past. The fact that this has happened four times this season (and in some cases one could argue 6 times) means that there is a bigger problem. Figure it out. That’s why you are paid as the coach. It’s on you, dude.
You’ve got three more games to win out to at least make the playoffs and maybe, just maybe, win the division. Thank goodness at least two of them are above .500 teams…….