Steelers offense struggles mightily in Miami

What was the worst part of Sunday’s borderline blowout loss to The Miami Dolphins?

It’s honestly hard to say. Nothing went right for Pittsburgh as they suffered a defeat and their second loss of the season.

Some might tell you that this most recent loss was in fact worse than the game against Philadelphia. That could be short term memory, or that could actually hold some truth to it, because Sunday’s game was ugly. Whether it was the injuries left and right, the play calling, or the mental mistakes, something seemed to go wrong on almost every snap for this Pittsburgh Steelers offense.

If you take away the one splash play that the Pittsburgh offense delivered, we are actually talking about a blow out loss here.

This game was a slow starter, which always makes me uneasy. After Miami took the lead at 3-0, The Steelers struck lightning on a perfectly-timed reverse play. The ball is flipped to Darrius Heyward-Bey (DHB) and after reaching a first down, he absolutely trucks a would-be tackler and keeps on rolling. Two defenders still stand in front of DHB and he just splits them, outrunning both on his way to the endzone for a 60 yard score.

I was shaking.

The entire play was an amazing display of effort by DHB. At the time, you honestly felt like the Steelers were going to be OK in this one..

Mike Tomlin decides to immediately go for 2 off the touchdown, and Ben Roethlisberger finds Le’Veon Bell for an easy fade route reception and the conversion.

Xavier Grimble and Bell run crossing routes, with Grimble running into a defender, but no call, as both defenders also collide: a near “pick” play, as used in basketball (but illegal in football, obviously).

Since the defenders bump, that’s why there’s no call there. Steelers lead 8-3.

(Not to take away from Heyward-Bey, but I hope we all enjoyed the moment while it lasted, because that was certainly the high point of the day for the offense.)

Unfortunately, I did mention injuries earlier; the Steelers suffered a big one, Ben Ben that is.

On a play that caused Roethlisberger to leave the pocket, Jordan Phillips (#97 Dolphins) dove and slapped at Ben’s right foot, almost tripping him, when colliding with the back of his left leg. However he kept his balance, and fired a very questionable pass intended for Sammie Coates: so questionable, that it was intercepted by Pro Bowl safety, Reshad Jones.

The worst part of the play, was seeing Big Ben down after, clearly something wasn’t right. Ben was helped off the field, although he walked off on his own power.

Landry Jones, the infamous Steelers backup quarterback, started warming up. At this point, the game was still in reach as Le’Veon Bell began running the ball with more success. Then, on 3rd and 1, offensive coordinator Todd Haley decided that the offense would pass with Landry Jones.

Landry misfired after mishandling a below average snap, and Steeler Nation turned into the country’s largest angry mob.

I’ll admit, I’m a part of the mob. I completely disagree with the call, 100%. Le’Veon Bell was running with ease, but also Landry Jones was in the game at quarterback.

Landry Jones was in at quarterback, with no preparation to work with the first team going into this game, making the decision even worse. Had he practiced all week with the first team, the decision would be slightly more acceptable.

I get trying to fool the other team and appear near genius, I do. But sometimes the answer is right under your nose and you don’t have to get cute. As mad as I, and the rest of the fan base appears to be at Todd Haley, the execution of this play was even worse.

Yes, Landry threw a bad pass, but watch as the offensive line gets owned and Jones has a defender in his face, in the general direction of what is likely the intended first and second reads, Antonio Brown and Xavier Grimble (Grimble is wide open, while AB could possibly make that play and get the first down).

Maurkice Pouncey doesn’t get a pass for the questionable snap either: just a horrible play from start to finish.

The Steelers came out of halftime down, but not out. Ben Roethlisberger is shown warming up on the sidelines; he was coming back into the game. However, Ben was clearly playing through discomfort as his first pass attempt of the half completely sailed on him, intended for Antonio Brown. (AB finished with just 4 catches for 39 yards, truly baffling.)

I wish I could say things got better.

After a few chunk plays on that same drive, Roethlisberger finds himself intercepted again. This time, Ben tried to squeeze it into triple coverage, intended for Sammie Coates.

There is no explanation I can think of as to why he threw the pass, except he was lacking focus from being in pain, or maybe on a healthy knee, he can fit it in there.

Regardless, the pass was extremely ill-advised.

The Dolphins would extend their lead shortly, after a failed field goal attempt.

At this point in the game, the score read 23-8, Miami. The game wasn’t totally over just yet. As a matter of fact, Roethlisberger and the offense put together a successful drive resulting in a touchdown.

Ben would go to recently-activated wide receiver Cobi Hamilton twice on the drive. Cobi had a solid debut performance, coming through late in the game, showing off his hands. It’s hard to see any positives in this game, but he was one of them.

One of those two times Ben threw to Hamilton was the 23 yard touchdown. Big Ben lobbed a pretty ball to Hamilton in the corner of the endzone on a fade. The Steelers had a glimmer of hope. 23-15, Miami.

Chris Boswell attempted an onside kick, and unfortunately those rarely work out. Boz’s kick is fielded by Miami’s best wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, and the game is all but over at that point.

The Dolphins even tacked on another touchdown in the form of a huge run, but I doubt anyone needs me to cover that.

All in all, Sunday’s game was an immense disappointment. Miami had/has a horrible run defense, and Le’Veon Bell was only given the ball 10 times on rush attempts.

DeAngelo Williams was given 3 carries.

Normally I don’t have problems with being a little pass-heavy, but against a very poor run defense, with an injured quarterback, maybe they could have ran the ball a little bit more.

Now we’ll see how the Steelers handle the run/pass balance in the upcoming games without Ben. When the game was on the line against San Diego, the coaches called on Le’Veon Bell (not Michael Vick) to win the game.

We may need a similar effort from Bell for as long as Roethlisberger remains sidelined.

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