Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward shakes hands with Steelers fans before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, in Pittsburgh. Chicago won 40-23.(AP Photo/Don Wright)
Who would have thought that it would be the Pittsburgh Pirates who would be playing meaningful games in October and not the Pittsburgh Steelers? That appears to be the case after the embarrassing 40-23 defeat at home on Sunday night to the Chicago Bears.
Once again the offense looked atrocious. While many will look at the stats and see that Big Ben threw for over 400 yards and had 2 TD passes, it was actually one of the worst games of his career. He tossed two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown and he fumbled two times, one of those also returned for a touchdown. He was overthrowing open receivers and throwing behind his guys as well. It wasn’t a pretty display.
The offensive line didn’t help the cause, as per the norm as they allowed Roethlisberger to be sacked, hit and hurried all game long. It’s been said multiple times but Big Ben will not play in all 16 games at this rate. It’s not humanly possible to be beat up as much as he’s been beat up and to be able to play consistently each and every week.
It’s also nearly impossible to believe the Steelers don’t have a running game but they just don’t have one to speak of. Possibly when LeVeon Bell returns in a week or so the arrival of the running game will come along with him or perhaps it may take another rebuilding of the offensive line because this current group just doesn’t appear to have what it takes.
The two bright spots on offense were the emergence of Antonio Brown and the return of Heath Miller. Brown got in Todd Haley’s face last week and demanded the ball more and boy did he deliver. Brown put up 9 catches for over 160 yards and two touchdowns. One touchdown, a one handed circus catch, was one of the best catches that will be made all season long. The showboating down 17 points could have been done without, but he was on a mission to prove he should be considered a number one receiver in this league and at least for one night, he proved it.
Miller’s much anticipated return netted him three receptions. He is the security blanket in the passing game and he should become a larger factor each week as he continues to work his way back.
Defensively Troy Polamalu again played like he was in his mid 20’s and he was able to disrupt some plays along the way. Polamalu proved he has no quit in him as he even blocked an extra point as the game was well in hand.
Other than that, the defense couldn’t get it done. With the momentum on the Steelers side, down 27-23, a stop could have been a huge lift and potentially vaulted the Steelers to victory. Instead the defense gave up three third down conversions, a touchdown and the game along with it. They failed for the third straight week to gain a turnover and now find themselves in a poor spot because of it. If you can’t create turnovers, your likelihood for success drops dramatically.
At 0-3, with the many issues this squad has, it’s hard to imagine a season with less than 10 losses. Yet, the team is trying to stay positive.
LaMarr Woodley noted after the game that the team could still go 13-3. While true mathematically and admirable that Woodley is trying to spin a positive out of this trash heap, it’s not going to happen.
While the Pirates are providing the city with their first winning season and playoff appearance in 21 years, the Steelers have turned into the team that nobody has any expectations for. They’ve turned bad overnight, they’ve turned into the team that has some stars on the squad but not enough talent all the way around and they’ve turned into a team who won’t be playing a meaningful game in October.
It’s not going to last 21 years but this could be the true beginning of the rebuilding era for the Steelers and it may be painful couple of seasons.
Be patient, the Pirates have proven that all bad teams do come around eventually and the new low man on the totem pole in Pittsburgh, the Steelers, will too.