Steelers Choke Away a Lead Again Late; Lose In Tennessee on Final Play 26-23

If you thought the Oakland game was bad, what exactly can you say after this debacle in Tennessee?

The Steelers look like a tired, beat up team, and they are only five weeks into the 2012 season. They have injuries all over the place, and players that simply are not playing near the level they need to if this team felt it would make an even serious run into the postseason.

It all came to a head in Tennessee Thursday night, losing to a 1-4 Titans team 26-23 on the final play of the game, when again the defense, which was again awful, allowed the Titans to march right down the field after a Shaun Suisham 54-yard miss.

Rob Bironas kicked a 40-yard field goal with no time on the clock, much like a few Sunday’s ago in Oakland, when again the defense failed to get the job done.

The Steelers seemed to have things going their way, and while they hadn’t played great, they were up 20-16 and at the Titans 34 with 8:34 to play and a third-and-eight.

Ben Roethlisberger missed on a pass, and Suisham nailed a 52-yard field goal to put the Steelers up 23-16. The Titans hadn’t scored since the last play of the first half, but of course you just knew the Steelers defense was going to give up the lead.

And they did. For the 4th time in 5 games, the defense gave up a late lead, allowing old rusty QB Matt Hasselebeck to pick his way down the field, and finally after Ike Taylor, who played one of the worst games of his life, couldn’t make a play on a third down, giving Tennessee a first on a hold, allowed Kenny Britt to catch a tipped ball for the tying score with 4:19 to play to make it 23 all.

Roethlisberger tried the same ending like last week when he was able to lead the team down the field for a game-winning field goal in a 16-14 win over the Eagles, but this time – it failed.

He was able to drive the team to the Titans 36 with 1:03 left, but instead of going for it, Mike Tomlin made a terrible call in trying to allow his kicker, who had a career-high of 52 yards, to go for a 54-yard field goal. He missed it – by about 1-2 yards.

The rest was a piece of cake, as the big play came when Hasselbeck hit tight end Jared Cook for a big gain to set up the easy 40-yard field goal for the win.

Roethlisberger was 24-for-40 for 363 yards with a touchdown and a bad pick that cost the Steelers points late in the half. On the other side, Hasselbeck was 25-for-44 for 290 yards with a TD and a pick.

The Steelers offense put up 412 yards, but the defense and a blocked punt on special teams in the second quarter when led to a score undid all the things the offense tired to do.

The Steelers run game was held to 56 yards on 22 carries, while Chris Johnson, who had averaged under 50 yards a game this year for the Titans, rushed for 91 yards on 19 carries.

Forget playoffs or division titles or anything like that, the Steelers right now better worry about holding off the Browns for the basement in the division the way this team is playing.

They have another break to think about it, as they won’t play again till October 21st in Cincy on a Sunday night.

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6 Responses to “Steelers Choke Away a Lead Again Late; Lose In Tennessee on Final Play 26-23”

  1. DrGeorge says:

    The Steelers were a tired team last night and emotionally drained, so give the Eagles part of the credit for this loss. And we did help the Titans a lot: fumbles, turnovers, a blocked kick at the goal line, and an untimely interception. The team has 10 days to nurse their injuries and regroup for Cincinnati, but it will take more than a long rest to bring this team up to playoff quality.

    The question is: What can Tomlin do to salvage the season? He fired Al Everett, and the special teams is now subpar. He has a defense that can’t apply consistent pressure on the opposing QB, or stop the run, or match up man-to-man with opposing receivers. His O-line (even before all the injuries) struggles to execute. Haley continues to run his only power back, Redman, wide for losses and continues to give Ben too much latitude; Dwyer is injured; and Mendenhall is not the answer to anything without better blocking. LeBeau’s end of game defense, that left Harrison matched up on a much faster TE) needs serious retooling. And Tomlin’s own bonehead decision to try that 54 yard field goal gave the Titans excellent field position and the opportunity to win the game. There is plenty of blame to go around, but not many obvious answers, at least not without better talent, especially on D. It’s time to get creative, and innovation is not what Tomlin does best.

  2. tony ferretti says:

    ike taylor sucks!

  3. Bob says:

    Ike Taylor needs to be replaced. He alone cost us the game with his grabbing calls. It is time to realize that Tomlin is not that great. This has been Cowher’s team for many years, but now as players retire it is becoming Tomlin’s. He talks the talk but does not have what it takes to help the team win. Most head coaches would NEVER allow the penalties the Steelers make.

  4. DrGeorge says:

    Tony and Bob, you are both correct in recognizing Taylor’s deficiencies. Unfortunately, it’s nothing new. Opposing QBs have been picking on him, successfully, since before the Denver playoff game a year ago. Once Tebow exploited his game, everyone has picked on him. The coaches had the entire off-season to find a fix and failed to address the problem. He holds because he can’t play good receivers man-on-man anymore; and he loses sight of the ball because his technique is flawed. But who do we have that’s any better? We simply don’t have the talent at CB.

    And Bob is right about the penalties, too. That is a discipline issue, and it appears the Steelers are in need of a big dose. Every penalty is unearned yardage, a gift to the opposition, and an injury you inflict on yourself. You can lay that deficiency at Tomlin’s feet, too.

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