If Monday night’s game showed us anything, it is that all is not lost with the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were moments of brilliance, even if those moments did not add up to a win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers fell to 0-2 after their 20-10 loss in Cincinnati.
Let’s talk positives first. I’m going to say something that I haven’t said in quite a long time: there were moments when the offensive line gave Ben adequate time to throw. Sometimes, dare I say it, it even seemed like he had too much time. Additionally, the offense was able to gain some momentum toward the end of the game when they were rushed for time. Ben does such a better job of moving the ball when he is forced to hurry up.
Moreover, the defense stepped up their game tonight. My fellow SEC-grad Jarvis Jones made a strong starting debut, chalking up six tackles by himself. And what can be said about (a now healthy) Troy Polamalu that hasn’t already been said? He was even uncharacteristically involved in a little fight with a Bengals player, which provided a change-up from our normally scheduled Troy programming.
While there were bright moments, a lot of the same old problems prevented the Steelers from gaining any kind of momentum. On offense, the offensive line (while improved during some series) also allowed Ben to take quite a beating. If they want him to stay healthy this season, they’re going to have to a better job of protecting him. Even worse, the Steelers have gone eight straight games without 100 yards rushing. To find the last time that has happened, you’ll have to go back to the 1930s! On defense, the secondary also had issues covering receivers, making Andy Dalton look a lot better than he actually is.
Tonight’s loss marks the fifth 0-2 start in the last 25 seasons for the Steelers and the first since 2002. While tonight marks an improvement from last week’s performance, the team still does not look quite like themselves. Hopefully, Le’Veon Bell and Heath Miller will be back for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, and perhaps their presence will light a much-needed fire underneath the team.