In the grand scheme of things going 2-2 with Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines is a pretty good deal. I’ll take that deal, as I imagine will most Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
Still, I can’t escape the feeling that Pittsburgh really let one slip away in Kansas City on Sunday. Facing a team that had lost five games in a row, the Steelers fell flat and managed to score only 13 points. Two picks and a crucial fumble by Landry Jones didn’t help matters, but the coaching staff has to take a lot of the blame.
Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler did not make adjustments as fast as they needed to, and they let an inferior team in a game that should have by rights gone to the Steelers.
Let’s check in around the internet and see where the experts are ranking them after the letdown.
“The Steelers stayed afloat sans Big Ben by going 2-2, giving them a 4-3 mark overall. What if they beat the Bengals at Heinz this week?”
“The Steelers have gone 2-2 since Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, but they’ve ranked 24th in Total QBR in that time. The Steelers were sixth in QBR the first three weeks of the season.”
Bleacher Report: #13
“the margin for error is thin when a team is already starting its third quarterback this season, and Jones’ two interceptions were the difference in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.”
USA Today: #10
“Appears they’ll end up splitting four games without Ben Roethlisberger. Imagine joy in Dallas if Cowboys were .500 Romo-less.”
FOX Sports: #16
“The Steelers are doing a much better job getting off the field on defense, and with both Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant shaking off the rust, this is going to be one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses again when Ben Roethlisberger returns.”
Yahoo Sports: #6
“It was hard to imagine Landry Jones winning at Arrowhead Stadium. But the entire Steelers team changes if Ben Roethlisberger returns this week as expected. They’ll be fun to watch going forward.”
SB Nation: #10
CBS Sports: #17
“They have a chance to move right back up this week if they can beat the Bengals.”
“Mike Tomlin is doing everything he can to lock up Coach of the Year honors this year.”
This sounds awfully familiar.
You might remember that after Week 2 there was a similar dynamic going on here, as the Steelers were ranked as high as number eight or nine and as low as 18.
Five weeks later, we know a lot more about this team but questions remain. Pittsburgh might feature the NFL’s best offense with Roethlisberger healthy and on the field with Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown, but will it be enough to make up for the problems in the secondary?
More importantly, the real question for the Steelers is if they can hang with the Cincinnati Bengals, who are threatening to totally run away with the AFC North crown.
A win on Sunday puts Pittsburgh right back in the conversation as a conference contender, a loss puts them on shaky footing and needing to make a play for a wild card spot.
As for the rankings? I think both CBS and Fox Sports are really underselling the Steelers, while Yahoo Sports needs to put Mike Tomlin’s Kool-Aid down.
I like USA Today’s number 10 ranking most this week. What about you?
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