Sitting there watching LeVeon Bell torch the Tennessee Titans for 204 yards on 33 carries on Monday night confirmed one important thing in regards to this 2014 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers; the road to success rests with the offense.
LeVeon Bell proved he’s a top tier back in this league as he smashed, gashed and throttled the Titans. He combined the power of Jerome Bettis with the speed of Willie Parker and literally carried the black and gold to victory. It was nothing short of impressive and Bell earned the MVP for the game without question.
Combine Bell with Big Ben, who’s capable of making pin point throws, extending plays and improvising like no other and Antonio Brown who leads the league in catches, is as fast as anybody in the league and isn’t afraid to go after the ball no matter where it’s thrown and you’ve got a special trio. Sprinkle in the emerging Martavis Bryant for the deep balls and red zone throws and old reliable Heath Miller for all the rest and this offense has the ability to score with anyone. They have proven they can put up points and they may have to do that for the remainder of the year because the defense just isn’t what it used to be.
The game against the Titans further proved what has been an emerging problem for a few years now, the defense is in decline. They are still pretty incapable of getting to the quarterback, covering receivers or forcing turnovers. They have play makers on that side of the ball like Lawrence Timmons but Timmons can’t be everywhere. When your team needs to heavily rely on James Harrison and Brett Keisel, you’re in trouble. That’s not a knock on either player; both have been stellar this season. It’s an indictment on the rest of the guys who aren’t going out there and getting the job done consistently.
Sure, there are injuries preventing many guys from playing right now and when they get Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Shzier and possibly Jarvis Jones back, one would think they’ll improve defensively but have we seen anything that truly indicates that will be the case?
Taylor is the best corner on the team but he’s not an ace anymore. Polamalu is still a playmaker but he’s not what he once was. Shazier is a rookie and Jones may as well be as he hasn’t played much at all this year, his second in the league. So the impact these guys have if any when they return could be minimal.
That leaves the winning to Ben and company. Roethlisberger doesn’t have to engineer six touchdown passes a game or 500 yards in the air, he’s got Bell he can rely on for ground support. He won’t have to wing the ball up for grabs, he’s got Brown and Miller to dump it off to who can make plays after the catch and he doesn’t even have to be pin point accurate because he has Bryant who is tall and has great hands to haul it in. All Ben has to do is be himself and he, along with the rest of this offense, can carry this team a long way.
The unfortunate reality is if the offense has an off day, they’re likely to lose because the defense can’t be counted on anymore. The road to success for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014 is wholly based on offense.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.