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Second Half Shutout Dooms Steelers In 20-10 Loss To Bengals

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.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Dave B.

    September 17, 2013 at 7:02 am

    This team is in serious trouble and unless a miracle happens with the Steelers offense , this team is on pace to have one of the worst seasons in franchise history . The offense is completely lost with no sense of direction . Bottom line Todd Haley’s offense is not working and its time for a change . Two years into this offense and it looks more like two weeks . We dont have one capable running back on the roster with the exception of LeVeon Bell and hes a complete unknown at this point . Redmen , Dwyer and Felix Jones are journeymen backs that have no buisness starting in the NFL . The defense is still good enough to win , but with it having to spend so much time on the field due to the in effectiveness of the offense , its hard to say just how good they are . Bottom line , this is a team that has alot more questions than answers .

  2. DrGeorge

    September 17, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Yes, the team is in serious trouble. A point we have made on this site repeatedly over the last three years. Now, it is obvious to everyone. Alas, the fix is not so obvious, especially to the fans. On the other hand, all is not lost, either.

    On offense, the first problem is the O-line, especially the tackles. Tomlin has at last admitted as much. Neither Adams nor Gilbert could start for many NFL teams; their technique is suspect. Aside from the recently added Velasco, who played well, the rest of the O-line is struggling — although the O-line did improve since the Titans game. But until the O-line learns to execute its run and pass blocking assignments consistently, Haley’s offense isn’t going to work well and our RBs (including the much touted Bell) will have nowhere to run. Our backs are being tackled before they get to the line of scrimmage, and that’s not their fault; Jim Brown couldn’t run behind this line.

    The O-line lacks talent, but it can play better than this. The question is: How long will that take? It appears that money woes are in part to blame. The Steelers passed on needed talent during free agency, presumably because the salary cap and\or the budget is maxed out. And firing Haley or Tomlin — as irate fans suggest — won’t fix the O-line. We may have to negotiate a trade for a quality OT, if one can be had. Otherwise, we’ll have to play with what we have, adapt the offense to our talent level, and hope we can escape serious O-line injuries.

    The second problem on offense is Ben R. Has he injured his shoulder again? He is not nearly so accurate as he was in years past. He and his receivers are not on the same page. And he refuses to throw the ball away and takes unnecessary sacks, which places his inexperienced O-line further in the hole. Ben is clearly not playing like himself.

    On defense, LeBeau deserves credit for keeping the game close. He did build a fire under his defense, not by throwing tantrums, but by using his younger players effectively. Unlike the young offensive players, the defensive draft picks and free agents are making big contributions. Vince Williams, Kion Wilson, Shamarko Thomas, and Jarvis Jones were impressive and played aggressively and intelligently. Polamalu is wreaking havoc again. Aside from Clark’s error on the TD pass, the secondary played well. So, the future of the defense looks brighter than it did when the season began.

    We can also take some comfort from the improvement of Danny Smith’s special teams unit. Yes, there are still some coverage issues, but special teams has improved noticeably since the season opened. Mesko’s altitude on his punts is giving our guys more time to cover, and Suisham has greater distance on his kickoffs.

    So, Tomlin and Haley have some strategic decisions to make. Their jobs depend on it. And the fun will be watching what moves they make to reinvigorate the offense. It won’t be easy, I’ll admit. There will be more losses ahead. But this season can still be salvaged, if the right moves are made. To my mind, it’s way too early for sack cloth and ashes.

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