As Ben Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone to tie things up at 24 with 7:11 left in the third quarter of this evening’s game against the New England Patriots, it looked like things were about to get interesting.
Maybe there was a chance for the Pittsburgh Steelers in this game. Maybe we were going to begin to see a classic midseason Steelers-Patriots matchup. But that was not the case. In fact, it turned out to be quite the opposite, the final score being 55-31. This drops the Steelers to 2-6, while they remain stagnant in their division at dead last.
Let’s break this game down a bit, because it was a lot closer than what the final scoreboard read. The story this season has been inconsistency from week-to-week on both ends. We have no idea which Steelers team is going to show up on Sundays. This week, the defense was almost completely at fault. The offense played well except for the two consecutive turnovers to start the game, which I do believe had a big impact.
However, Big Ben had a career day, throwing his 200th career touchdown, and adding three more onto that for 400 yards. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 74 yards, but for the Steelers this season, that feels like 174 yards. So, what went wrong defensively?
For starters, the Steelers put very little pressure on Tom Brady, ultimately allowing the future Hall of Famer way too much time to throw the ball. There were a lot of coverage breakdowns down the field in this game, allowing Brady to toss the long ball to guys like Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson all game long.
On top of that, Rob Gronkowski had himself a monstrous game. Even the rush defense struggled, allowing Steven Ridley to go for 115 yards. But after last week in Oakland, that may not be as surprising.
The AFC North is completely flip-flopped right now from what were used to. The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are at the top, while the Baltimore Ravens and Steelers are at the bottom. The Steelers won’t make the playoffs. They’re just not built for it this season. The personnel just isn’t there anymore. The NFL has changed too much, and the Steelers can’t keep up with it, at least this season. This was coming; we Steelers fans knew it.
But the Steelers will go out strong, and there’s no doubt in my mind about that. They’re built on a foundation of championships and their expectation year in and year out is to win championships. Obviously, there won’t be a championship this year, but they’ll still play like there is a chance to win it.
Remember, the Steelers aren’t flat-out losing these games. Most of their losses, especially recently, have been close ones — even if the score doesn’t indicate it. So what’s their job now? Spoil some other teams’ seasons. They are built for that.