Likes and Dislikes: Steelers vs. Saints

What else can you say? The Steelers continue to find ways to beat themselves against poor teams.

I can’t place blame on any particular unit in this game. As in the past (and becoming a broken record) this loss was a complete team loss:

  • The offense cannot settle for field goals.
  • The offense cannot turn the ball over multiple times.
  • Special Teams had a bad snap which resulted in a missed field goal (the deciding 3 points?)
  • The defense gave up penalties in a crucial drive.
  • The defense did not get pressure.
  • The defense let players roam free (ie. Kenny Still getting behind Ike Taylor.)

It’s not all over, but the window of opportunity it closing.

Luckily for the Steelers, their competition in the AFC North race also lost. Luckily for the Steelers, they will face the Bengals twice, and the Browns face both the Ravens and Bengals once each, before the season ends.

How those games pan out, will determine who wins the division: and winning the division may be what’s needed for any of the AFC North teams to make the playoffs, as San Diego, Kansas City, Buffalo and Miami are all fighting for the two wildcard spots.

But back to this New Orleans disaster: what exactly went wrong? Where did it go wrong?

There was speculation that Ben Roethlisberger had a hand injury during practice this past week. If there’s any truth to that, Ben’s too much of a pro to admit it (or make any other excuses for that matter.)

But if Ben was injured (and re-aggravated it during the game) it would explain many of the overthrown passes. Several of those passes would’ve changed the outcome of the game including redzone scoring attempts to Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller. However, this wouldn’t change the poor decision to throw to Darrius Heyward-Bey in double coverage, which lead to an interception. (Similarly, I’m not sure if there’s anything different Ben could have done for his other pick, snagged by Cameron Jordan.)

Le’Veon Bell was again, the shining light in a dark day, amassing over 200 yards of total offense. Antonio Brown made his usual circus catches as well, and Heath Miller was a rock when called upon. The surrounding cast didn’t do much to help their team however, with Markus Wheaton missing down markers (including the crucial 4th down play that was challenged and upheld) and Bryant unable to secure a sure touchdown off his fingertips.

The defensive pass rush was non-existent for most of the game, and even when Vince Williams came up with a huge 3rd down sack of QB Drew Brees, it was all for naught, as Atwon Blake mugged a Saints WR downfield and gave New Orleans a new set of downs, on what was the deciding score.

We can only hope the corner play can step it up over the last 4 games. Taylor returning is a boost, but both he and Will Gay had games they’d rather forget. Troy Polamalu also missed some tackles and looked “off” on Sunday.

The veterans will have to support a the front seven, which will presumably go forward without Brett Keisel, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a triceps injury. The hope is the Steelers will regain the services of NT Steve McLendon, LB Ryan Shazier and LB Jarvis Jones. The addition of those three players to the front should immensely help a pass rush which had looked to be much stronger than it has actually been over the last few games.

There’s a lot of “hope” in the last few statements and the way Pittsburgh has been playing, “hope” is all this team may have left.

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