Steelers play ugliest game of 2014 NFL Season

Polamalu_Harrison_Pittsburgh_Steelers_Cleveland_Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen plenty of frustration during the 2014 NFL Season, but Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns on the road was their arguably their ugliest despite former losses.  The Steelers were able to get down the field early in the first quarter to put a field goal through the uprights only to find themselves getting deeper and deeper into trouble as the game continued.  The result was a loss to a Cleveland Browns team that has been hungrily improving, suffering losses and earning wins by just single digits.  The Steelers had no answer to what Brian Hoyer was able to throw at them, leaving them looking desperate with a  31-10 final score.

The Steelers were able to get the running game firing early.  Le’Veon Bell had a 12-yard run on a third-and-three that helped move the ball downfield.  When Browns defensive back Buster Skrine was called for a 24-yard pass interference penalty, the Steelers were able t get the ball on the seven-yard line, but were not able to correct their red zone woes, settling for a field goal by Shaun Suisham.  The Steelers defense was able to keep Cleveland from scoring.

In the second quarter, the game got away from Pittsburgh.  Hoyer led the Browns on two offensive series that put 14 points on the scoreboard.  Isaiah Crowell had a five-yard touchdown rush and then Jordan Cameron caught a 51-yard touchdown reception.  As the Steelers looked for offensive answers, the Browns again marched down the field on 11 plays for 85 yards and scored their third touchdown on an eight-yard rush by Ben Tate.

With near zero offense, the Steelers defense was forced onto the field for nearly the entire second half of the game.  They were able to hold the Browns to a 40-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff in the third quarter, but fell apart as the Browns used Tate to eat up the game clock and earn yet another touchdown off of a one-yard rush following a questionable interception call on a batted Ben Roethlisberger pass.  The Steelers were able to put seven more points onto the scoreboard on a five play, 74-yard series that highlighted a key 17-yard reception by Antonio Brown.  Roethlisberger was able to hit Lance Moore for a 26-yard touchdown pass, but it was too little, too late.

The Steelers have played ugly nearly the entire season, but the loss to the Browns may have shown just how inadequate Pittsburgh is in the league this season.  Some could argue that losing to a team like the Carolina Panthers who hadn’t won a single game until meeting the Steelers was terrible, but the loss to the Browns has to hurt worse and showed significant breakdowns in nearly every aspect of the game.   The Steelers looked unprepared, were unable to make any adjustments at halftime and failed miserably.

5 Comments on "Steelers play ugliest game of 2014 NFL Season"

  1. Any doubts about the Steelers coming into this Cleveland game can officially be put to rest . Stick a fork in them , they are done . One last observation . Its pathetic when you have a 36 year old defensive tackle literally signed off the street right before the season starts , that is running twenty yards downfield trying to stay with a wide receiver because your secondary is nowhere to be found . Total team collapse .

  2. Agreed. Can’t believe it took folks this long to arrive at that assessment though. All you have to do is look how they come out ill prepared for seemingly every other game over the past three plus years. They are now 19-19 in last 38 games…. Not being able to beat average or bad teams. That all points to head coach. Haley may be made a scapegoat and rightfully so but Tomlin lost this team awhile ago and it is showing up in bunches now! But all the talking heads swear that it’s not tomlin said fault! There is some talent in this team and an elite QB. We should be more competitive!

  3. Same song, different verse. The media will focus on the shortcomings of our defensive secondary because their errors are obvious. But it is important to remember that our secondary depends on our defensive front getting to the QB. Our defensive backs got burned badly on misdirection plays that resulted in long gains; but those plays were only possible because the Browns O-line allowed Hoyer time to run them. Second, to give our defense a chance, it must not be left on the field so long. Our offense failed to score TDs on early trips into the red zone and had only 3 points in four quarters until the last four minutes of the game, when the Browns played off the receivers to run out the clock. In other words, the offense bears responsibility for part of our defensive shortcomings.

    Jay is right is saying there is talent on this team, especially on offense. I disagree that we have an elite QB, but Ben R. is good enough to win when he has a solid line and a defense that can erase his mistakes. Right now, he has neither. Moreover, it appears his receivers are not in sync with him, either running the wrong routes or misreading the defense.

    The solution is to run the ball, as Haley did to start the game, and as he did to defeat the Panthers. But he gave up on the run way too soon. Why should we commit to the run? Because it controls the clock and lets the defense rest, minimizing our weakness; because it makes the passing game more effective; and because opposing defenses have gotten lighter and faster in order to cover receivers in this pass-happy era and are now vulnerable to the power running game. The elite NFL teams run the ball well, especially in the red zone. The Steelers, by contrast, tend to throw the ball by default, even in the red zone, even on first and goal from the one, as in today’s game. We appear to do this in deference to Ben R. I have opined here for years that it is a strategic mistake to place the offensive burden so heavily on Ben. We need greater offensive balance if we hope to be competitive again and get out of the cellar of our own division.

  4. I agree, doc, isn’t it also that , although Haley didn’t have his shiniest moment, to put this on him is a misnomer because it is sound logic to run the ball…but isn’t it as simple as, from an offensive standpoint:
    (1) we invested heavily in high round draft picks on the o line and swung and missed miserably on me Mike Adams, instead of IMMEDIATELY trying to find his replacement, we settled on Beachum who is way overmatched from a strength standpoint as is Foster and Gilbert; they are constantly getting bull rushed into the backfield;
    (2) I am starting to lay off the BIG BEN kool aid and might actually agree with you about his elite status or lack thereof—holds ball too long and reads defenses poorly;
    (3) NO RED ZONE WEAPON: I know we drafted one in martavis Bryant but he has not sniffed the field;
    (4) I realize we don’t typically sign that splash free agent but when you botch the draft as badly as Tomlin and Colbert had in 2008, 2009, you actually need to dip into the pocketbooks and sign the difference maker in lieu of placating the fan base with a bunch of nickel and dime free agents as the team did this past year;
    (5) finally, Tomlin has not had his team prepared ON A REGULAR BASIS IN OVER THREE YEARS!!!!!!

    How does this get fixed and why do the powers that seem to be tend to want to pooh pooh all this as if some staff are untouchable??? Please someone explain to me what is going in?

  5. Jay, I claim no inside information. I speculate based on what I see. We appear to have several, inter-related problems. This is how it looks to me:

    1. The NFL teams that are struggling the most are those who were most successful under the former defensive rules: Steelers, Giants, New England, Ravens, Chicago, etc. They are in transition. Teams that retooled to use the spread offense (Cowboys, Seahawks, Eagles, Browns, etc.) are doing well offensively because they adapted to the rules.

    2. Everyone struggles defensively against the spread offense. College teams have used the spread for years and know how to stop it; the problem is finding athletes with the right skills sets. Baylor and TCU have potent spread offenses; Baylor won 61-58 on Saturday, because neither defense could stop the spread. NFL scores are headed in that direction. Ole Miss, on the other hand, beat Texas A&M, 35-20, and it wasn’t even that close until late. Both have potent spread offenses. The difference is that Miss. has four big, fast defensive D-linemen that can get to the QB, leaving the LBs to play man to man defense on receivers. They attack the spread before it starts, much as defenses used to attack the option. The Steelers problem is a lack of line talent, on offense and defense. The O-line is average, the D-line is weak, especially in the pass rush.

    3. When Tomlin had talent, he coached effectively between the lines. He is a poor manager, however. Tomlin and Colbert have drafted poorly in recent years, especially on defense, where LeBeau is being asked to stop the spread attack with players not conducive to it. The mistake was in putting our money on the QB and skill players to the detriment of our lines.

    4. Finally, Ben R. is too egocentric to run Haley’s offense correctly. I don’t know who calls the plays anymore, but I suspect Ben calls the plays in the “no-huddle,” which is a one dimensional attack dependent on his ability to pass. It requires an O-line that can pass protect; ours can’t. Thus, Ben misfires and takes too many sacks. Running the ball would alleviate this, but Ben’s ego and his enormous salary force the coaching staff to keep the focus of the offense on Ben and the down-field pass; his contract also hamstrings Colbert’s ability to buy better line talent. Therein lies the dilemma. We need a more selfless QB, like Russell Wilson or Nick Foles, who is less concerned about personal stats and glory and willing to play within the system. On offense, Ben is the problem, and Tomlin seems unable to deal with that, which seems to be causing discord within the team and friction between Ben and the coaching staff. The Post-Gazette sportswriters (Collier, Smizik) appear to be coming around to that view as well. None of us knows that it is true, but the circumstantial evidence seems compelling.

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