Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Signature Embarrassing Loss

"The first 30 minutes were poor football on our part, and I take responsibility for that, and it starts with me."                       -- Mike Tomlin
The Steelers were not ready to play on Sunday in Oakland.  Come to think of it, the Steelers were unprepared to start the season and unready for the entire first month of the 2013 season. Their record is 2-5.

Blame the coaches, the players and the front office. To think we pay them money. What a gyp.

The Defense Stunk
Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor romps 93 yards 
for a touchdown on the game's first play. (photo: Associated Press)
On the very first play, the Steelers surrendered the longest running play for a touchdown by a quarterback in NFL history. Think about that. 

After the game, the NFL Network's Deion Sanders gleefully mocked the Steelers: "How do you let a quarterback go 93 yards?"

It's a fair question. The Steelers deserve the mocking. As much as it pains Joey Porter's Pit Bulls, there's no denying our once-proud franchise has turned into a laughingstock. 

On that read-option touchdown dash, Pryor simply slid past the left side of the Steelers' defensive front seven and then outran everybody else -- all of whom looked really, really slow by comparison. Cameron Heyward, Lammarr Woodley, all the other linebackers, the entire secondary -- nowhere to be found.  

Pryor said, "I saw Woodley bite, and I was like 'jeez.'  And then I came out (wide), Rod made a phenomenal block (on Troy Polamalu), and it was off to the races."
To add further embarrassment, here's a telling post-game quote from running back Darren McFadden:  
"I talked to one of their defensive players, Ryan Clark, [and he] told me that he worked on tackling me in the middle all week. That’s what he was juiced up about and Terrelle just went around the end."
Do you ever get the impression Ryan Clark talks too much?

Keeping in mind that Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor was sacked nine times in his previous game, vs. the Chiefs, the Steelers managed one lousy sack.  The Steelers also couldn't stop Darren McFadden when they needed to, specifically on his two TD runs. 

Where were the linebackers?  According to the official stat sheet, the linebackers were mostly absent:
  • Lammarr Woodley had zero tackles
  • Jarvis Jones had one tackle
  • Jason Worilds had two tackles
  • Vince Williams had three tackles
Aren't linebackers paid to make tackles?  Aren't they usually the leading tacklers?  The defense clearly didn't do enough. 

The Offense Stunk Worse
Todd Haley's offense was putrid, and he had no answers. 

It's clear that Oakland's coaches read Joey Porter's Pit Bulls, because we've been writing for the past two weeks that Ben Roethlisberger's dislocated finger (sustained in London) has taken some zip off his passes and forced him to scale back his usual antics.

The Raiders' coaches clearly recognized that Roethlisberger either would not or could not throw deep effectively -- and he didn't.  Roethlisberger attempted all of one deep pass. The result?  The Raiders stifled Pittsburgh's running game, limiting Le'Veon Bell to 24 yards on 13 carries (a 1.8 yard-per-carry average).  On four plays, Steeler runners were tackled for lost yardage (11 yards total).

Bottom line: The Raiders didn't respect Pittsburgh's ability to throw deep, and the Steelers never adjusted.  Meanwhile, the Steelers' injury-ravaged offensive line surrendered five sacks. Again. 

The clock management was questionable, at best.  Again.  The Steelers' offense has scored just 11 touchdowns in seven games. 'Nuff said.

The Special Teams Stunk Even Worse
The kickers were abysmal.  Usually reliable Shaun Suisham missed two medium-range field goals (possibly because of bad holds by Zoltan Mesko).  Suisham also directed an onside kick directly to Oakland's Rashad Jennings.

Not to be outdone, Zoltan Mesko managed to shank a punt, kick two touchbacks and have a punt effectively blocked, after which the Raiders scored a touchdown. As noted above, he may have mishandled at least one of the holds on Suisham's missed kicks.  If Mesko's performance last week vs. the Ravens was "junior varsity," as Mike Tomlin described it, this week's was pee-wee league.

Mesko may not be around much longer. 

Speaking of players not long for the team, how what about linebacker Chris Carter and cornerback Curtis Brown?  They were on the inactive list again, making them useless. Again.  Sayonara to them, no doubt, sooner or later.

Other news from around the NFL: Remember when Mike Wallace insisted he is an elite receiver?  He was able to con the Dolphins into paying him like one. Today he dropped a crucial pass in Miami's loss to Cincinnati. He's a bum.

By contrast, Detroit's Calvin Johnson showed what a real elite NFL receiver does: Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards -- 329 yards -- to lead the Lions over the Cowboys. Now, that's an elite receiver. Dez Bryant, take note.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs are 8-0, and the Cincinnati Bengals are on a roll as the front-runner in the division the 2-5 Steelers used to own.

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