I expected the Steelers to lose to Baltimore. I expected Byron Leftwich to play poorly. I expected a low-scoring game.
What I didn’t expect was for the Steelers to flunk Football 101.
The Steelers lost the turnover battle, 3-0. The stats defense didn’t allow a touchdown, but didn’t make a game-changing play, either.
The Steelers allowed a special-teams TD. Mike Tomlin fired special-teams coach Al Everest over a personality conflict, but special teams are no better under Amos Jones.
When those things happen, you usually lose. That’s the nature of football.
But victory was nonetheless within reach. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley made some inexplicable decisions.
Third quarter, third-and-2 at the Baltimore 4: Leftwich, who has ZERO TOUCH, throws a fade pass to Mike Wallace, who can’t get his feet down in bounds. (Memo to Wallace: A great receiver gets his feet down, especially in a contract year.)
Why not pound Jonathan Dwyer? Dwyer was having a good night. He’d just gashed the Ravens for eight yards on the previous play. He wound up with 55 yards on 12 carries, an average of 4.6 yards per. The Steelers only needed 2.
Dwyer is clearly the Steelers’ best back right now. He proved it last night. Rashard Mendenhall played too much. He had 33 yards on 11 totes, a meager 3-yard average.
We get all this talk about STEELER FOOTBALL. Imposing your will.
Well, third-and-2 at the Baltimore 4 with the season on the line was a prime spot for STEELER FOOTBALL. Instead, Haley tried to prove how smart he is. And didn’t.
Surprise is way overrated. They know what’s coming? Who cares? Let’s see if they can stop it. That’s STEELER FOOTBALL.
This game was lost months ago. The Steelers need a backup quarterback that's a better fit for Haley’s offense. Leftwich is a bad match. Brittle, too. Already hurt at game’s beginning. He gutted it out. Doesn’t say much for Tomlin's faith in Charlie Batch.
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