Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'd Rather Go to the Dentist

I have been watching Steeler football for 35 years.  There are very few instances where the team has played this poorly.  Is this a serious, Achilles heel-like flaw that can’t be fixed or was this performance an aberration? 
No one can deny that the blame for Sunday’s game should be shared by coaches and players. The Offense: the offensive line was like a sieve; the quarterback was careless with the ball; Mendenhall ran tentatively; and the receivers were not aggressive or physical enough against the Ravens’ average CB’s.  The Bruce Arians offense was atrocious in its attack.  It was obvious in the first quarter that Terrell Suggs was a dominant force and needed to be dealt with.  The offensive coordinator has a few tools at his disposal to deal with an aggressive pass rusher like Suggs.  He can have a tight end line up across from Suggs and have him block Suggs briefly (chip him) before he runs downfield.  He can have the RB line up on the same side of the offense and help the OT block.  He can also call plays like a draw play or screen pass or shovel pass to force Suggs to slow his roll.  Very little of those tactics were used.  In addition, the Steeler offense did not use their speed at wide receiver to spread the Ravens defense out and pick them apart (pass defense is their weakness).
The Steeler defense went planking on Sunday, plain and simple.  The Defense: the front line was manhandled; a search party was organized to find James Farrior; Lawrence Timmons couldn’t cover a crock pot; Bryant McFadden looked out of shape; and Troy Polamalu was a step late and a dollar short (until he caused a fight).  I don’t like to second guess Dick LeBeau but it seemed like the Ravens offense was always a step ahead of the Steeler defense.  There was a lack of pressure on Joe Flacco that was only outdone by the missing coverage of receivers and RB’s coming out of the backfield.  In summary, the team did not look ready to play, especially against their most hated rival.  As Mike Tomlin likes to say, "The standard is the standard" when it comes to the Steeler organization.  There is no way that the standard of play on Sunday will be tolerated.
I would like to draw a comparison to the start of the 2004 Steeler season.  Week 1 saw the Steelers beat the Raiders in the home opener at Heinz Field.  Week 2 in Baltimore not only saw the Steelers dominated by the Ravens in a 30-13 loss, but starting QB Tommy Maddox was injured while being sacked.  This gave birth to the Ben Roethlisberger era.  The team pulled together the following week in Miami through the torrential remnants of a hurricane to beat the Dolphins 13-3 (I know, I was there—and got soaked).  The team continued to work together supporting their young QB to a 15-1 record, which is the best regular season record in franchise history. 
Will the Steelers pull together like they did in 2004?  We will get an indication this Sunday when they face the Seattle Seahawks at 1pm at Heinz Field.  If they don’t, this could be a long, painful season.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports


  1. Yes, I have been watching since 76 and it ranks up there as one of the biggest beatdowns I've seen. Plus you failed to mention, the Ravens hitting us for a 2pt conversion when up by 20 and even throwing a challenge up over 25 pts. Revenge will be sweet is what I'm counting on. I see remnants of when the Titans stomped on the Terrible Towel.

  2. The Steelers were dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I've never seen Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton get shoved around and man-handled like that. It looks like Colon is out for the season (again). The Steelers will have to bring Flozell the Hotel or Max Starks back, or maybe both based on Jonathan Scott's performance at LT. Somebody needs to tell Big Ben that Ed Reed plays for other team. Mike Wallace and Ike Taylor were the only Steelers that showed up to play. Credit the Ravens - they executed well. I hope this isn't going to be our typical post Superbowl swoon this year.