There’s no sense beating around the bush about the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers completely laid an egg on Sunday and lost a game they had no business losing against the previously 1-8 New York Jets.
The team’s two best players across the entire lineup accounted for four turnovers between them—even if one of Ben Roethlisberger’s interceptions wasn’t exactly his fault—and the defense got off to a slow start and dug an early 10-0 hole before anything even happened.
Antonio Brown’s offensive fumble on the first play of the Steelers’ next drive following Michael Vick’s 67-yard touchdown pass on a one-play series quickly led to an early 17-0 deficit.
The next drive ended in a red zone interception, and the one after that never even happened after Brown muffed a punt and lost the ball at his own 28-yard line.
The Steelers forced a long field goal attempt that the Jets went on to miss, and Shaun Suisham responded by ending the half with a career-long 53-yard field goal to end the first half. Pittsburgh outscored New York 10-3 in the second half, but the damage was done early, and the offense couldn’t dig out of the hole.
So what is there left to do? It’s time to move on.
The Steelers are still 6-4 and one time back for the division lead, currently situated as the seventh seed in the AFC playoff race with six games left to play—including three games against the two teams that currently hold the wildcard slots.
This is obviously a team with warts, and the offense has had an alarming amount of difficulty getting itself organized on the road for reasons that cannot be explained. And it’s true that three of the team’s next four games are on the road, but you can only play the games on the schedule.
They might as well burn the game film from the Jets game, because it’s not going to help going forward. Hit the reset button on that one and start over, reboot from the last point in which the system worked effectively.
The offense had been historically effective, and the defense was aiding the cause with turnovers, during the Steelers’ recent three-game homestand. Obviously, that success is not sustainable, even at home.
But the fact that the offense has put up less than 14 points in four of five games on the road certainly feels like an aberration as well. Something’s got to give.
The Steelers have had two opportunities to immediately respond to a humiliation on the road with another home game. After losing by 20 points, the offense exploded in the second in Week Three, winning 37-19. After squeaking by Jacksonville 17-9, however, they proceeded to lay another egg in Cleveland, losing 31-10, made only marginally less embarrassing with a late touchdown.
The Steelers get a third chance to redeem themselves on the road next week against the Tennessee Titans, to whom they have lost in each of the past two seasons. It’s time to show that this team doesn’t live in its fears and conquers its road demons, getting back on track for the playoff chase in the process.