Monday, December 01, 2014

Ben said it ...

Last week, you will recall, Ben Roethlisberger said Sunday's game vs. the Saints would be a "must win" game.

The Steelers lost. And it's how they lost that defines this particular defeat and this Steelers team.

The Steelers looked listless and unprepared. That was especially so for the defense, which looked clueless and hapless as the Saints put together four drives of 80 yards or more. The defense had no answer for running back Mark Ingram, who amassed 122 yards on the ground. The Saints had 11 runs that went for at least five yards. Eleven!  Hardly a stout run defense. And the pass rush was negligible, as it allowed Drew Brees ample time to carve up a woeful secondary that featured flailing corners and invisible safeties.

On offense, Roethlisberger was off his game. He missed targets all day long. Roethlisberger threw two interceptions, and New Orleans cornerback Patrick Robinson could have had three more, including one that would have been a pick-six had Robinson secured Roethlisberger's pass right to him early in the first quarter.

Obvious as it was that Roethlisberger was off his game, he still ended up dropping back to pass 59 times (one sack; 58 pass attempts). This, despite the fact that New Orleans was starting its backup nose tackle on a defense that entered the game ranked 23rd in the NFL against the run.

Despite that, and even as it was clear early on that Roethlisberger was off his game ... there he was, trying to fling the ball all over the field -- 58 attempts -- while the Steelers' running backs got just 22 rush attempts. Roethlisberger had more incompletions (26) than the running backs had running plays (22).

Fifty-eight pass attempts vs. 22 running plays.  Something here doesn't make sense.

So, considering that Roethlisberger had stated that it was a "must win" game, and the Steelers lost, where does that leave us?

In the shadow, on the margins, at the dark end of the street, that's where.

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