Roethlisberger Says Steelers’ Defense Got Too Tired In Second Half

The Pittsburgh Steelers had their offensive issues in Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, scoring just three second-half points until a late fourth quarter drive with that game essentially over. But their defense also allowed 37 points, their third game this season they’ve given up at least 35.

Recapping the game on his weekly Footbahlin podcast, Roethlisberger pointed to tired legs as a reason why the defense failed to generate stops.

“I think in the second half, our defense played well but they got tired,” Roethlisberger said on his show. “When you’re on the field so much, you’re going to get worn out.”

Though the Bengals didn’t dominate the second half time of possession, they did sustain long drives while the Steelers’ offense struggled to do so themselves. The backbreaker was the Bengals’ eight play, 93-yard drive that took five minutes off the fourth quarter, ending in a touchdown that put Cincinnati up multiple scores and essentially salted the game away.

While the Steelers’ offense failed to control the ball the way they did in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints, the Steelers’ defense didn’t generate enough stop. Despite holding the Bengals to just a 33% third down conversion rate, Cincinnati did well to stay out of third down entirely. On that 93-yard drive, the Bengals didn’t face a single third down, ripping off back-to-back first downs for big chunks on their first two plays while Joe Burrow found WR Tyler Boyd for 15 yards on 2nd and 12 later on in the possession.

Pittsburgh’s pass rush perked up in the second half but the secondary struggled to make plays on the ball, the team lacking a #1 corner to consistently play the ball in the air. All three of the Steelers’ top corners in this game were picked on.

Roethlisberger went on to say the defense being on the field so much even negatively impacts the offense, compounding the problem all the more.

“Where the offense is on the sideline so much that you think like, ‘oh, they’re getting rest.’ They are. But you’re also losing your rhythm. You’re losing your flow. You’re losing that feel of the game…it’s hard for a young quarterback.”

Until the final and largely meaningless drive, the Steelers’ second half offense netted just 67 yards and two lowly first downs. They were too highly-penalized and made too many unforced errors while the defense allowed tooo many explosive plays and failed to get red zone stops. Combine both factors and you get a blown halftime lead and disappointing loss that put the nail in the coffin that is the Steelers’ season.

Check out the full episode of Roethlisberger’s latest podcast below.

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