but this time I rushed online looking for answers - something has gone terribly wrong with the team yesteday, and I wanted to know what. I wanted to find a word by a coach, an excuse by a player, an analysis bit from a blogger that would explain to me that it was into a system failure, but just a string of bad breaks superimposed over a really good day by the Ravens. And I am more and more inclined to think it is the latter rather than the former.
Here are my poorly organized thoughts on a morning when the Steelers are 0-1 for the first time almost in a decade.
1. Let's look at the big picture. Yes. the scoreline looks terrible, but in terms of the season standings it is still just one win and one loss respectively. A three-point win at Heinz Field for the Steelers and we're back even with the Ravens.
2. If there was one thing that I liked about the announcers during the game, was how they said that this offseason the Ravens got better against one team - Pittsburgh. Frankly, it does seem that way. The whole O-line, offensive upgrades, changes in schemes were designed to beat the Steelers. Is it me or did the Ravens at times looked like last year's Pats when they beat us at home? My point is that there will be more than a couple of teams on the Ravens' schedule this season that will jest be a bad matchup for them.
3. Exhileration by Baltimore in this one may well mean they will be deflated next week. Look for Tennessee to put up a great fight against the Ravens and I would not be surprised if Baltimore is 1-1 next Monday.
4. Now, the Steelers. Game-wise, not much positive. I was frustrated by Ben - usually the most consistent performer on offense - most of all. Two of the three INTs were just bad, bad throws. You could sense something like this could happen when Ben heaved the ball upfield while being tackled, and only by a whiff of luck was not the ball intercepted by Ed Reed. I am not sure if it was rain and Ben couldn't get a grip on the football, of it is just bad judgment by a frustrated QB.
5. Defense. Uh-oh. Let's say we are lucky that the Steelers will face just a handful of good QBs this season, and we're lucky that Indy will be without Manning in Week 3. But the worst thing is, the entire defense was a whole step behind yesterday. Keisel, Smith and Hampton were pushed around, Woodley and Harrison could not get into the backfield, Timmons and Farrior/Foote could not tackle Rice, Polamalu was not in this game (was it a mental thing?), and the entire secondary was... well, as usual, except for Ike Taylor, I thought we was a beast out there.
Now, what do I take from all of this?
A. Turnovers. Let's say, it was payback for the last year's Tennessee game. String of bad luck things, one leading to another, this is not something that will trend this season. I just hope that all of the bad things that were supposed to happen to the Steelers poured out in a highly concentrated dose on all of our heads yesterday.
B. Offense. Directly linked to (A), I thought we could sustain drives yesterday, that's good. I was disappointed by lack of production from the young receivers, especially early on, when the game was still within reach. I hope things will pick up in Week 2.
C. Defense. I just don't see a reason for this massive systematic breakdown. When you have 11 returning starters, same system, same DC, things like this should not happen. This was just a bad game individually for a lot of those Steelers. Sure, when you give your opponents a short field like 5 times during a game, your defense can only do so much, but its inability to make stops, to make splash plays, create a turnover or two was puzzling. There were flashes of hope, like when Steelers stuffed Rice on 4th-and-1 early in the third quarter, let's just hope they can build off this.
D. Overall: this is just one game, folks. We blew away Miami in 2006 and then went 1-6 in the following 7 games, and 8-8 for the season. I'm sure Atlanta is now dealing with a lot of the same, it is not the end of the world. Steelers love it when they are in the doghouse, they are angry, they are overlooked, and they are a very capable team. This will serve as a timely wake-up call for Tomlin and the team. If not, this will be a very long season.
Moving on to Week 2.