Did The Steelers Really Lose To The Bengals (Twice)?


Looks like Terry Bradshaw can’t believe it either.

In the wake of the Pittsburgh Steelers crushing defeat by the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday, Steeler Nation is awash in a sea of negativity. The Steelers are 6-3 and in good shape for a playoff berth yet the general feeling is that Sunday’s loss basically ended the season. While I advise you to put away the knives and remove your belts and shoelaces, I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t admit to believing the doomsayers speak a bit of truth. Two teams in 43 years have won the Super Bowl as a Wild Card and, let’s face it, anything less than a repeat makes this year a failure.

Over the past couple days, there’s been good news, bad news, and so-so news out of the Black and Gold.

In the good news category, Mike Tomlin is clearly upset with our shitacular special teams and has set about making changes. He sent a clear message to others on that unit by cutting backup LB Arnold Harrison. In a way, I feel sorry that Harrison is the fall guy for our kickoff fiascos as he’s been on the team since 2005, battling his way back from a torn right ACL in 2006 and then tearing his left in 2008. They’ve signed Donovan Woods off the practice squad to replace him. Woods is supposedly a good special teams player but we’ll have to see about that. Personally, I think they need to bite the bullet and put starters like Brett Keisel or Lawrence Timmons out on coverage. Tomlin has also indicated Mike Wallace will see more action returning punts as preseason sensation Stefan Logan has been a bust so far.

In so-so news, Troy Polamalu is listed as “questionable” for Sunday’s game. Considering Tomlin is a filthy liar, I wouldn’t put much stock in anything he says regarding injuries. For what it’s worth, they’re saying this injury was a PCL strain, not a re-aggravation of the MCL sprain that kept Troy out earlier this season. Regardless of how much faith you put in these medical reports, it seems likely Troy will play again in 2009.  Although his reckless style of play has to make you wonder how long he’ll be back before he’s injured again. One thing is for certain, the Steelers would be insane to let him play in this week’s demolition of the hapless Chiefs.

Finally, in the bad news, all this talk of injured knees and lousy special teams has covered for a truly terrible performance by our offense. Ben Roethlisberger has owned up to playing a bad game but I think he was put in position to fail. He threw 40 passes, was sacked 4 times, and scrambled out of danger twice. For those keeping score, that’s 46 throws against a measly 18 runs. I’m sorry but that is abysmal playcalling. When you look at our three biggest wins of the year (San Diego, Denver, and Minnesota), Rashard Mendenhall had over 150 yards in two of them. The Minnesota game was decided by a pair of Pick Sixes.

In other words, anybody who tries to argue Bruce Arians’ Flying Circus is working this season has not been watching these games. Yes, Ben is an excellent quarterback. Yes, we have good receivers. However, we are not the Patriots or the Colts. The Steelers simply cannot win at a high level by putting the ball in Ben’s hands and saying, “Here, do it all by yourself.” Arians needs to be called out for his game plans and made to realize we are winning in spite of him, not because of him. Until some balance is returned to this offense, I foresee some frustrating days ahead.

Frustrating for me. Frustrating for you. And frustrating for Terry Bradshaw.