Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steelers Defense Unravels, Sends Team To 0-4 In Loss To Vikings

If this keeps up we may just start referring you to previous articles since we end up saying the same things about the same reasons for losses. That said...these are not your father's Pittsburgh Steelers.

For that matter...or as the cockney across the pond would say, come to that, they aren't even y'r older brub's Steelers.

At home, on the road or even in another country, the Steelers lost yet again. The beneficiaries of the latest gift were the Minnesota Vikings as they defeated the lowly Steelers 34-27 at Wembley Stadium.

The Steelers were the forced to endure the longest flight home ever - 45 years. Not that the plane that the team would take from London to Pittsburgh would have a Flux Capacitor, but in that the last time they saw 0-4 was in 1968. They're now 8-13 over their last 21 regular and postseason games.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that they'll feel every mile of the silent trip.

"Right now, you could say we're the worst team in the league. That hurts." - Ben Roethlisberger after the Steelers fell to 0-4

Let's set aside for a moment the fact that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was responsible for both of the team's turnovers, his sixth in the last two games, the second ending a rally at the end.

Let's also set aside that Markus Wheaton isn't being used enough, maybe even replacing Felix Jones as the kickoff returner, and that Mike Adams is frighteningly bad - hands, feet, technique, pick - at left tackle.

This defeat was on the defense.

The Dick LeBeau unit that has been a rock for a decade has looked brittle and porous of late. The two main tenets are to tackle the catch and not to allow the big play. Poor positioning and poorer tackling have all but eliminated that. 

The Steelers defense was so pedestrian and lethargic that it looked like a promo for The Walking Dead.

They have allowed 74 points and four plays of over 50 yards in the last two games - a low not seen since 1999. They have only have four sacks (six individual players have that many or more) and no takeaways - the only with none. The Steelers as a team are now -11 in turnover differential.

Not only are there just four sacks, but neither Jason Worilds nor first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones have any between them. Jones, who looked early on to have a nose for the ball, hasn't even sniffed a quarterback yet.

Reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson was held to 69 yards on 18 carries in the previous meeting between the two teams. Sunday, AP (or AD or ADP) 60 yards on one touchdown run alone as he rode roughshod over the Steelers defense for 140 yards total on 23 carries.

The team's tackling didn't make it through customs. Case in point were two plays: cornerback Ike Taylor's complete whiff of AP and fellow cornerback Cortez Allen's terrible angle on wide receiver Greg Jennings' 70-yard touchdown catch.

But, what might just have been a microcosm for the Steelers' black cat-crossed fortuity on defense was the strip-sack by LaMarr Woodley that should have been their first turnover of the season. Instead, it slipped through Jones' hands and the Vikings recovered for a first down.

With the offense finally showing signs of life, the wheels are coming off a once proud and stifling defense. Remember, this was Matt Cassel, not Matt Ryan or Matthew Stafford.

And they remembered it also...every single mile home.


TIDBITS: "I'll look at the tape," head coach Mike Tomlin said following the game when asked if he received what he was looking for out of Le'Veon Bell in Bell's debut. "Obviously, I thought he gave us a good effort from a conditioning standpoint. For a guy who hadn't played a lot of football, to absorb the number of snaps that he did was positive, but in terms of evaluating his play with a fine-tooth comb, I'll do that at the appropriate time."

Bell scored two rushing touchdowns in the game which were the Steelers' first two for the season.