7 gut reactions from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
1 – The Steelers seem to have an uncanny knack for playing down to lesser competition. The Dolphins reeled off 23 unanswered points in a dominant performance. If it wasn’t for an illegal formation by the Dolphins, they would have scored 27 straight points. Some people blame it on the coaching staff, some blame it on Head Coach Mike Tomlin, but the players looked generally disinterested in today’s game. It was a far cry from “redemption Sunday” in terms of motivation and hunger to win.
2 – There’s no doubt that the Steelers’ offense can be Super. By no means was today’s performance anything but disappointing even with Ben Roethlisberger playing quarterback. But sadly, the Steelers also possess their own offensive kryptonite as well. It comes in the form of backup Quarterback Landry Jones. He looked horrible in the pocket, not willing to set his feet and he struggled to read blitz’s. He almost cost the Steelers as his only pass, which Jones was attempting to throw away, almost resulted in an interception.
3 – The defense gave up 16 points in the first half but it easily could have been more. The 53-yard pass to Dolphins tight end MarQueis Gray took the Dolphins offense down inside the Steelers five-yard line but the defense held to only give up 3 points.
Also, Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi took advantage of the Steelers constantly missing tackles and looked as if he could break a long run on any play. Ajayi finally did so on an outside zone in the 3rd quarter to the tune of a 33-yard gain and another 66-yard touchdown run with under a minute left to put the game out of the Steelers’ reach.
Not being able to stop the run was bad enough but allowing penalties to assist in Dolphins’ drives only made the situation worse. The Steelers finished with 60 penalty yards on 6 penalties.
4 – One thing that bothers me about the Steelers’ offense is its lack of consistent drives. The big plays are entertaining and display the talent the Steelers have surrounding Ben Roethlisberger. But long drives seem to be in short supply for the Steelers offense, especially when Ben is having an off day. Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown all under-performed and it showed throughout the game
5 – The injuries piled up today and it started to show. With Cameron Heyward already out, and linebackers Vince Williams and Javon Hargrave leaving the game with injuries, the middle of the defense got dominated. The tackling was poor from the whole defensive unit.
Ryan Shazier continued to be sidelined and it seemed like the backside pursuit, especially on outside zone runs, was non-existent. The Steelers managed to let one of the worst rushing units in the NFL run for over 200 yards.
6 – A microcosm for today’s game happened in the first half. Dolphins’ Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw an ill-advised pass right to Steelers corner William Gay who proceeded to drop an easy interception. In contrast, Ben Roethlisberger threw a low pass that Dolphins Safety Reshad Jones dove and intercepted. It looked like a play that a receiver would make.
That’s the way today went, the Dolphins made the hard plays and kept the momentum, the Steelers looked out of sort and couldn’t make the plays that literally hit them in the hands.
7 – On a positive note, the special teams looked good again this week. Steelers Punter Jordan Berry continued to be accurate like he’s been all season. The Steelers also managed to block a field goal and the Dolphins missed a second one. Special team’s coverage units prevented any big plays from occurring but it was ultimately a futile effort due to the lackluster performances by the Steelers’ offensive and defensive units.