Even if he is a great quarterback, there’s a limit to the amount of punishment Ben Roethilsberger can take, as the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to offer no help whatsoever in the form of a decent protection scheme, a capable offensive line or a less than terrible running game.
Losing 20-10 to the Cincinnati Bengals makes it seem like the game was closer than it actually was. It’s impossible to win when the Bengals’ pass rush has no problem of getting to Roethlisberger, sacking him twice, while forcing an interception out of him under pressure and allowing him to complete only 1-of-9 passes when the protection around him broke down. He can’t extend plays with his legs the way he used to, rushing only once for a total of six yards.
And there’s also Roethlisberger’s own mistakes, trying to force things that simply aren’t there. He completed only 26.7% of his passes that went 15 or more yards downfield, and most of those incompletions were a result of an overthrow. it was the first time Roethlisberger threw so badly (9 overthrows on the deep ball) since 2006.
The running game, however, is even more of a joke. The Steelers finished with only 44 yards on the ground, most of them coming from Felix Jones (37 yards, 10 carries), making it eight consecutive games with less than 100 yards on the ground, tied for the longest streak in franchise history and the longest active streak in the NFL. They have a total of 75 yards this season after two games, putting them at 31st in the NFL, as 15 players ran for 75 yards or more in week 2 alone.
The offensive line hasn’t been able to create running room for a bunch of running backs that isn’t very talented to begin with. The Steelers managed only 13 yards after contact on 16 carries, which does show just how good of a tackling team Cincinnati is, but it easily points the fingers at everyone involved in the construction of this offensive scheme, that is one huge failure so far this season.
A lot of hope is being put on the returns of Heath Miller at tight end and Le’Veon Bell at running back, but even if Bell is the best running back the Steelers have on their roster, the next carry he takes will be his first as an NFL player, so it’d be better not to get their hopes up too much.
We weren’t good enough tonight. We have to accept that. But I emphasize tonight, like I just emphasized to our group, there’s a certain amount that we need to swallow and rightfully so, but we’ve got to maintain our way. I believe honestly that the answers are still in that room. Keep grinding and don’t feel sorry for yourselves and just get better. Pointing fingers it the worst thing that we can do.
Mike Tomlin believes that he has the tools to turn the ship around, but even without the injured players or receiver Markus Wheaton who will get involved more in the future, it simply seems like that the bunch of players he has on both sides of the ball isn’t enough to live up to the expectations people have in this team, obviously a bit too high to begin with.