Column: The Pittsburgh Pulse
The Steelers cannot get anything to go right. After appearing to gain some momentum at the end of the Raiders game, they got embarrassed by Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Last Sunday it looked like the Steelers had finally figured out their passing attack. Roethlisberger started slow, but was able to settle down late and put the Steelers in a position to win the game late. Although they weren’t able to complete the comeback, they gained valuable experience that will be important for this team later in the season. Had it not been for a couple drops by the Pittsburgh receivers the Steelers easily could have won the game.
Against the Patriots this week, the offense was not the problem. They were able to score 31 points, but the defense allowed a dizzying 55. Few teams in the league will win, if their defense gives up 55 points.
The Steelers, barring an incredible run to finish the season, are most likely going to miss the postseason this year. This will be the first time in Ben Roethlisberger’s career that he has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The main reason for the Steelers struggles has to be the lack of a running game along with their abysmal defense.
It took the Steelers until week eight, to have a running back eclipse the 100-yard mark on the season. With their ground game being unsuccessful, all of the pressure is being on the shoulders of Roethlisberger. The running game must improve for the Steelers to contend throughout the rest of the season.
It’s difficult to put all of the blame on the running backs when the offensive line is struggling to open holes for them. Most of the running plays the Steelers run end with a runner getting hit in the backfield and losing yards. Le’Veon Bell averaged only 1.8 yards per carry last week against Oakland. That is not enough for a team that expects to be contending for a division title every year.
I believe that Le’Veon Bell can be the running back of the future for this Pittsburgh team. He has shown signs of being able to carry the load, but needs some sort of offensive line presence. He only had 24 yards rushing against the Raiders, but did rush for a score and had 27 receiving yards. This week against the Patriots he had 139 total yards. He appears to be improving every week. At this point in the season coach Mike Tomlin will look to develop the young talent that he has on his team, Bell being on of them.
Another key for the Steelers will be to maintain possession of the football. Last Sunday they had two turnovers. Again against the Patriots this week they had another two turnovers. With the Steelers defense going through a rebuilding period and not playing to their potential, it will be key for Roethlisberger and the offense to hold on to the football as we enter the second half of the season. His receivers will have to step up their play as they recorded multiple drops last week and had a pass deflect right off their hands for an easy Oakland interception. This week against the Patriots the Steelers receivers strung together another good effort. They amounted 400 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but again in a losing effort so in the end it is almost meaningless
There’s almost no positives to take away watching this defense play. They seem sluggish and are always a step behind. Tom Brady took advantage of the Steelers in the Patriots rout this week. The once great Steel Curtain defense has certainly fallen from grace.
While this Steelers team is far from complete they are showing signs of improvement offensively, but their defense is absolutely terrible. They are still only a couple players away from making a run at the division next year, but it seems unlikely to happen. Still, it’s difficult to completely count out a team that is led by a two-time Super Bowl winner in Ben Roethlisberger.
Mike Wargon is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.