Two games into the season, and the Steelers are looking like a team that is still in preseason mode.
Monday night in Cincinnati, the offense again did little, as the Bengals outscored the Steelers in the second half 10-0 to take home a 20-10 win.
The loss puts the black and gold at 0-2, tied with Cleveland for 3rd and last in the four-team AFC North. The Bengals and Ravens are 1-1.
“If you ask me right now my knee jerk reaction is to give them credit for making it difficult for us,” QB Ben Roethlisberger said of the second half.
The Steelers actually led 3-0 after an Antonio Brown 40-yard punt return set them up in good field position.
They had a shot to go up 6-0 or possibly 10-0, but one of the key plays took place when tight end David Paulson fumbled the ball after a catch at the Bengals 13-yard line.
It’s the second fumble in the red zone for the Steelers in the first two games of 2013.
The Bengals scored on a drive when Giovani c scored his first TD on a 7-yard run up the middle with :54 left in the first quarter.
They went up 10-3 on a Mike Nugent field goal, then Roethlisberger and the offense finally put a drive together.
The offense had their only real good drive, going 65 yards in five plays, and Big Ben hit Derek Moye with a one-yard TD to tie it at 10 at the half.
The second half belonged to the Bengals, and a key penalty on a phantom ‘trip’ by Marcus Gilbert on a third down play that would have been a 34-yard gain to Brown killed any chance the Steelers had to score in the whole second half.
Overall, the third quarter saw the Steelers have no first downs, negative two yards, and the Bengals get the only score on a 8-play, 78-yard drive that saw Andy Dalton hit Bernard for a 27-yard score to make it 17-10.
The Bengals clearly made the right adjustments at the half, as in the second half the Steelers managed 107 yards and ran just 24 total plays to the Bengals 38.
Cincinnati piled up 407 yards on the Steelers D, with 188 coming in the second half when they outscored the Steelers 10-0.
The run game was about as awful as it was in the opener, as Felix Jones led the ground game with 37 yards on 10 carries.
Overall the Steelers ran for 44 yards on 16 carries, a 2.8 yards per carry average. Jones had 10 carries, Isaac Redman had three carries, and recently brought back Jonathan Dwyer had one carry.
Roethlisberger was 20-for-37 for 251 yards with a TD, a pick, and he was sacked twice for minus 17 yards.
All night he seemed to miss passes, and it looked as if he and WR’s were not on the same page.
“I would have to watch it on film and see why we are so off on some of our things,” Ben said after the loss. “I know there was a couple of times the receivers said they couldn’t see the ball in the air with the lights.
“Those are kind of fluky things we can’t have happen.”
But they are happening, and the Steelers are in scary territory, that being 0-2 and with a game Sunday night against a 2-0 Chicago Bears team at Heinz Field.
Right now this looks like a team that will even struggle to get to .500, an 8-8 record that would be a repeat of last season.
There’s a lot of season left, but right now it looks like Steelers fans can start to make plans for January with the team sitting at home watching the post season.
“Very frustrating, we have a long way to go, we’re going to let this sink in for a day or two and then get ready for Chicago,” Roethlisberger said.
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