No Ben, No Win

Ben Roethlisberger was helpless on the sidelines, but did his best to help his replacement Landry Jones knock off the Patriots. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

If I told Steelers Nation before kickoff of the game against the New England Patriots that Pittsburgh would win the turnover battle 2-1, they would control time of possession 32:29 to 27:31, and out gain the Pats 375 to 362, you would assume they pulled the upset. But that’s not the case. Belicheck, Brady and company gain another win in Pittsburgh, 27-16.

Simply put, this game can be summed up by several missed opportunities. A 1st quarter interception in the end zone by Landry Jones, who was filling for the injured Ben Roethlisberger, after the defense forced a fumble by the Patriots Chris Hogan, two missed field goals by Chris Boswell, one from 54-yards and another from 30-yards. There was also a touchdown by Darrius Heyward-Bey, that would’ve tied the score at 14, negated by a holding call which led to the first Boswell missed field goal. You capitalize on two of those and the game could’ve drastically changed.

Would’ve. Could’ve. Should’ve. All that matters is the Steelers are now 4-3, and on a two game losing streak heading into the bye week.

For what it’s worth, Jones was solid in defeat. Interception aside, he was 29 of 47, for 281 yards and a touchdown. He showed he can get the offense moving well enough to put them in scoring position, they just need to capitalize. Now he has an extra week to prepare for a much needed victory against division rival Baltimore Ravens in two weeks.

The defense gave up 127 yards rushing to LeGarrette Blount (29) who came into the game with back to back sub-50 yard games. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

The problem once again is the defense. I wrote the following when the Steelers were down 14, and it’s still relevant even though Pittsburgh cut the lead to 14-13 early in the third quarter.

When one unit is at a disadvantage, another unit has to step up. Coming into the game we knew the offense couldn’t stay with Tom Brady and the Patriots, but you’d hope the defense would show some pride and shoulder the responsibility to prove they could have a fighting chance. 

While Brady didn’t have the explosive game he had versus Cleveland and Cincinnati when he threw for 406 yards with 3 touchdowns and 376 yards with 3 touchdowns, respectively, he still managed to go 19 of 26 for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns. The more disappointing thing as a Steeler fan is seeing another running back, not of all-pro caliber, rip them up. LeGarrette Blount rushed for 127 yards (5.3 yards per carry) on 24 carries and 2 touchdowns. Blount was averaging 73.2 yards per game before playing the Steelers and ran for 37 yards and 50 yards the previous two weeks against the Browns and Bengals. I understand this isn’t “Blitzburgh” or even Dick LeBeau calling plays, but I thought when the switch was made to Keith Butler to be defensive coordinator the basic principles of the defense we’ve come accustomed to would stay. We knew the pass defense was a train wreck, but now they can’t stop anyone on the ground!

Bell gained 149 scrimmage yards (81 rushing, 68 receiving) in defeat. He came into Sunday leading the NFL at 147.5 per game. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

The only positive from this game was that Le’Veon Bell continues to play like the best all-around running back in the NFL. Bell rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries and had 10 receptions for 68 yards. If Pittsburgh is going to stay afloat until Roethlisberger returns from knee surgery in about a month, offensive coordinator Todd Haley is going to have to ring the Bell more often and play a ball control game similar to that of the old 90’s teams with Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis. We saw signs of that against New England. Hopefully with a week off they can better execute the game plan against the Ratbirds. Kickoff is at one o’clock at Batltimore on November 6th.

FOURTH DOWN

  • The Steelers are now 8-9 in games without Roethlisberger in his career, and 4-5 since 2012.
  • Antonio Brown caught 7 passes for 106 yards and no touchdowns. Brown has caught 43 touchdowns in his career, all of them from #7.
  •  This was Pittsburgh’s 3rd loss this season by 10+ points.
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