The Dreaded Slow Start: After Sunday’s game, the Steelers have been outscored in the first quarter 63-13. The Patriots scored seven in the first and another 17 in the second. The Pats went up 14-0 with ten minutes left in the 2nd quarter, and it is that kind of hole that is killing this team from the onset. The Steelers can no longer rely on their stout defense to keep games close – because that defense no longer exists. The offense needs to find a rhythm early in games. I was hoping that the team would be able to do that on Sunday because for once they decided to take the opening kick instead of deferring after winning the coin toss. No such luck as Big Ben was sacked five plays in and turned the ball over after being stripped by Ninkovich. Ben then threw a pick that turned into points for the Pats the very next play. Ben also over threw some passes in the end zone. These slow starts are keeping Ben from finding a rhythm, and folks wonder why he struggles so much. The first half was a slow and bad start for the Steelers, and even though they were able to tie the game, getting behind that much that early is sucking any momentum right out of this team.
Opponent Retaliation: The Steelers once again allowed an opponent to score points (FG or TD) immediately following a Steeler scoring drive. I have not dug into the stat for the entire season, but it happened twice the last two games, and it happened FOUR more times against the Pats. The only time it didn’t happen was during the drive after the Steelers pulled within a touchdown (24-17) and made the Pats go three and out. The Steelers scored on the following drive and tied the game – see what happens when you can stop an offense and keep momentum going your way? Unfortunately, the Steelers gave up another touchdown right after they tied the game. And from there, the Pats blew open the flood gates. The Steelers need to find ways to get the defense off the field following drives where they score on offense. It is simply letting air out of the Balloon of Hope.