On Sunday past, there were two choirs performing on two different levels at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. No I am not speaking about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati “Bungles,” my fault, I meant to say the Bengals.
I am alluding to the Pittsburgh Steelers who began their performance in “Cincy,” singing dissonant melodies of woe, navigating in and out of key, emitting tones discernible only to their ears.
However after consulting with the concertmaster, the Steelers ended up with a chorale for the ages. In the beginning, errant passes, giving up big plays on defense was the ballad of choice. Former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher once said the following after a win against the Cincinnati Bengals. “When I say who dey, we say who dey?” Or something to that effect.
It was a postgame speech that was so full of passion, one could have easily assumed that the legendary coach had forgotten to take his morning dose of valium.
For a while it seemed as if the Steelers could have been administered a slight overdose of a very powerful depressant because at the beginning of the contest, they did not perform as if they knew who or even where they were. There seems to be a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde mentality in regards to the Steelers offense, in general and Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger in particular that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.
It appears that the only immediate remedy for the inconsistency of Roethlisberger may be the Steelers second year running back/receiver Le’Veon Bell.
Bell was a one man wrecking “crew” against the Bengals., running for 185 yards, catching six passes for 50 yards while scoring three touchdowns for Pittsburgh. He became the first running back since 2008 to run for three touchdowns in a game for the Black and Gold. Bell also became the second N.F.L. player, after Walter Payton in 1977, to pick up 200 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games.
In the recent past at the beginning of certain games “Big” Ben has appeared at the beginning of the contest as if he is just warming up, just trying to get in the “groove”. He misfires passes regularly, almost as if his mind and body may be slightly out of sync. It looks s if he is throwing the football before thinking, or possibly thinking a bit too long before throwing.
In the first half, Roethlisberger missed several wide open Pittsburgh receivers that maybe if he would have completed those passes just to move the chains, the Bengals may have not received extra offensive possessions.
For example, on the second series of the 2nd quarter, Roethlisberger threw behind Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller, who was wide open. On the very next possession the Bengals scored a TD, breaking a 7-7 tie to claim a 14-7 lead. Boys’ and girls’ at this stage of the season not only every possession, but every play may be the play that may extend the season of a franchise and propel that team toward a championship.
The Steelers defensive secondary does not receive a “get out of jail” free card either. The “D” allowed Cincy QB Andy Dalton to complete 11 passes to Bengals star receiver AJ Green for 224 YDS and 1 TD.
By the way, after Sundays Bengal bashing, no one is talking about Ben Roethlisberger’s MVP drive, or the imminent dismissal of Steelers head Coach Mike Tomlin or Black and Gold Offensive Coordinator, Todd Haley. H’mm, why not?
Well because the Steelers are blocking, running and catching on offense and tackling and covering on defense. Well as far as covering is concerned, the Steelers have not been as stellar in that department as they have to be or should be. To be in the playoffs or not. Just win baby and you have the answer.
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.583.6741
Follow him on Twitter@ultrascribe