Heading into the regular season, I think several of us knew there would be games where the Pittsburgh Steelers offense would score 30 or more points. I mean, really, they have a great quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, a stellar wide receiver in Antonio Brown, and top two or three running back in Le’Veon Bell. No, my biggest concern heading into the season was centered around the Steelers defense but with that said, I still thought they wouldn’t be as bad as they’ve been through the team’s first nine games. Silly me.
Ahead of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, I’m sure several of us knew what to expect from their offense. A heavy dose of running back Ezekiel Elliott with a dash of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott attempting to get the football to Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten on 3rd down plays. While the Steelers defense somewhat managed to control Elliott running the football in the first half (34 yards on 7 carries with a long run of 8 yards), they failed miserably at covering him and bringing him down out of the backfield on his lone reception in the first 15 minutes on a 2nd and 18 play. 83 yards later, Elliott was in the end zone and those kinds of quadruple explosive plays just can’t happen.
When the smoke had cleared after the first 30 minutes of play, the Steelers defense still had only allowed 13 first half points, but as we all know, games have four quarters. The defense proceeded to give up two more explosive plays in the final 30 minutes of action and both resulted in touchdowns. To make matters worse, two 15 yard penalties on cornerback Ross Cockrell and safety Sean Davis that came during the Cowboys final two offensive possessions are free yards that are hard to overcome when attempting to win a close game. Oh, and the two late touchdown runs by Elliott, those came as a result of the Steelers defense being absolutely manhandled.
Sure, the Steelers have talented players on the defensive side of the football in defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt in addition to linebacker Ryan Shazier, when he’s healthy enough to play. That’s it, however, as all the outside linebackers would likely be backups on most other teams and the same goes for whoever steps on the field in the secondary.
Even though the Steelers lost Sunday, I still think they can win the division because of how week it is. I would, however, love to have the Baltimore Ravens defense right about now. Sure, the Steelers offense has its share of warts but with that said, that unit will still score more than 30 points in a few of their remaining games. The problem is, however, that if they don’t jump on teams the way did several weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs, the defense is likely to give up 30 or more is well.
Should this Steelers team ultimately make the playoffs, what do you suppose will happen if their offense has an off day? Sunday, they let a rookie quarterback pretty much carve them up and they’ll surely face better than him in January, should they get that far.
Until the Steelers fix their defense by infusing it with more quality players, you can forget about them hoisting another Lombardi Trophy anytime soon. They better hurry when it comes to that process as Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell probably only have a few good years left in them.