Pittsburgh Steelers Week 2 Report Card
Week 2 Report Card
With the first two weeks of the 2013 regular season officially in the books, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in an unfamiliar position. For the first time in the Mike Tomlin era, the Steelers are 0-2 after a 20-10 Monday night loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. History tells us that being in this position isn’t a good sign, seeing that a vast majority of teams who lose their first two games hardly ever makes the postseason.
Nothing seemed to improve from Pittsburgh’s unsuspected season-opening loss. Offensively, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did everything he could to keep the Steelers’ ship afloat. Unfortunately, the pass protection was still bad, and the running game was even worse. In addition, a fumble and a dropped pass halted two potential scoring drives.
The play on the other side of the ball kept the team within reaching distance of a victory, but still lacked game-changing big plays. The Steelers’ defensive veterans showed consistency, but inexperience at inside linebacker left big plays, open in both the passing and running games of the Bengals.
Looking back on the past several season, Pittsburgh has owned Cincinnati when playing in the Queen City, winning 11 of the last 12 times. Obviously, the tables have turned, and this could possibly be the changing of the guard in the division and within this rivalry.
So far, 2013 hasn’t been kind to Pittsburgh. The team has yet to win a game of any kind, and are hoping that they avoid going zero for the year.
Even though there has been very little progress from Week 1, let’s look at the Steelers’ grades for Week 2.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
Ben Roethlisberger did everything he could when he had the ball in his hands. Big Ben did complete 54 percent of his passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he did throw a pick that should have been caught by wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery in the fourth quarter. In his defense, Roethlisberger can only do so much while running for his life behind the line of scrimmage.
It has come to my realization that the Steelers’ running game will be horrible, regardless of who is carrying the ball. Running back Felix Jones started the game only to end with 37 yards on 10 attempts. Both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer combined for six yards on four carries. To say that the running game was nonexistent is an understatement. With the lack of ground attack, the offense was dependent on receiver screens instead.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders didn’t have eye-popping numbers, but did come up with some big plays throughout the game. Sanders had a 43-yard catch-and-run that set up Pittsburgh’s only touchdown, which was caught by Derek Moye on a one-yard fade. However, that good fortune was overshadowed by the David Paulson’s critical fumble in the first half and Cotchery’s dropped pass that resulted in interception in fourth quarter.
At times, Pittsburgh’s offensive line seemed solid in pass protection, but they still allowed Roethlisberger to be sacked twice, and hit and hurried several times throughout the game. More importantly, they were still unable to pave the way for a running game, leaving the offense one-dimensional.
The defensive line did put pressure on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, which resulted in some hurried throws. Defensive end Brett Keisel had a big pass deflection on a third-and-goal midway in the fourth quarter. However, just like last week, they couldn’t control the line of scrimmage when it counted most in playing the run.
Just like the defensive line, the linebacking corps had a problems containing Cincinnati’s running backs, allowing 113 yards and a touchdown on the ground. They also had trouble in pass coverage. Bengals tight ends Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert each had 66 receiving yards, while rookie running back Giovani Bernard put the game away with a 27-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Cornerback Ike Taylor did a great job in containing wide receiver A.J. Green, limiting him to just six catches for 41 yards. However, Dalton did amass 280 yards in the air with no interceptions, even under pressure.
For the first time all year, there is really nothing bad to say about the Steelers’ special teams unit. Brown got things started off on the right foot with a 40-yard punt return in the first quarter. Kicker Shaun Suisham connected on his only field goal attempt of 44 yards, and punter Zoltan Mesko boomed a 52-yard punt, but was unable to get any of his seven punts inside the 20-yard line.
At times, it appeared that the coaching staff had problems relaying plays to Roethlisberger in a timely fashion. Amidst that confusion, Tomlin and company had difficulty finding alternatives for a lack of a running game. Even though they coached well enough to keep the team within striking distance, they still didn’t find the right answers at the right time.