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.