After the game, my friends and I sat in silence for several minutes trying to comprehend what had just happened. We had gotten trampled by the Titans on offense and defense. Their running game wasn't putting up great numbers, but they kept staying on the field when it counted, converting crucial third downs, one after another.
When we finally began to talk; blame, excuses, and an overall sense of doom seemed to overflow without any hint of a bright spot in the game. We lost 3 key players, probably for the year. One of our top CBs, Allen, went out and no one knows how bad his injury might be (And he's getting injured quite often). We lost to a team that everyone thought we should have made a statement against. Our running game and offensive line looked like they might be bottom 5 in the league. Our passing game didn't look much better except for 1 early drive and 1 late drive against a prevent defense. Our team had perhaps the fastest score in NFL history, and we couldn't make use of any of that momentum.
Overall it looked very bleak and we moped about it for the better part of half an hour. Then one of my friends pulled up the giant hit Jarvis put on Chris Johnson. We all felt a little better. Then we put on the crazy sack Polamalu laid on Locker when he cut right through the line, and felt a little better. There, in the pile of crap, were a few diamonds that give a glimmer of hope.
We looked bad in a couple areas:
Obviously our running game and O-line need help. Hopefully a healthy Le'Veon and Heath can provide that. With Heath's blocking and consistent hands, he may be able to relieve some of the pressure put on the O-line. We're also expecting Bell to come in and be instantly amazing. That's a lot of pressure for us, as fans, to put on him, but until he gets out there, who's to say he won't live up to our lofty wishes.
Our D looked good, but allowed too many long third downs. Ike Taylor seemed late to his man numerous times and was right there for the tackle, but not there for the breakup.
And lastly, Ben looked like crap. Yes he was rushed, but can you name a recent season in which he wasn't? A lot of pundits are blaming our WRs, but when you have passes routinely short, long, high, or low, it's hard to catch them, let alone in stride. Ben's interception near the end of the first half might have cost us the game. Who knows how things would have gone differently, but they got 7 after that pass and we lost by 7.
Reasons for Hope:
First off, Keisel's Beard. Keisel played at a high level yesterday and kept the pressure on Locker all game with the assistance of a fairly good rushing D-line. His beard is already in midseason form and hopefully it will transform into a playoff beard by the end of the season.
In all seriousness, our D looked good. If our offense had generated anything or limited turnovers (Looking at you Ben and Redman) then we would have won this game. We need to increase the turnovers, but we had 2-3 potential ones that slipped through our fingers.
Le'Veon will be back in a few weeks, and hopefully with that our running game will get a shot in the arm.
Heath will be back soon, and our passing game should become more reliable after that. Wheaton has yet to be used and the couple deep shots Ben took this week were off their mark (Sanders first pass wasn't as accurate as it could have been, and the defender was draped all over him prior to the ball getting there). The hope is that after their kick in the ass this week the offense will get more in sync this week and complete a lot more of the 10+ yard attempts.
Rookies look good, Shamarko made some nice plays on defense and special teams, and Jarvis looks like a special player already. Jones seems to be around the ball on most plays and played as well, if not better than Worilds, so he should see more time this week against Cincy.
Maybe, just maybe, Tennessee will have a decent to good defense this year. They brought in Greg Williams and they have some decent talent up front. If we play next week and rock Cincy and the Titans D puts the hurt on another team, then maybe we won't feel so bad.
The coaching this week was very rusty. Haley's play calls seemed questionable at times, and sometimes overly conservative. Hopefully during this week they work on getting the ball out of Ben's hands faster and keeping him upright. If they're able to work the no huddle, and perhaps play at a faster pace, then maybe we can begin generating some offense.
As a Steelers fan I never give up hope. With 3 minutes left in that game yesterday I was cheering for us to make a comeback win, even after we hadn't done anything all game. There have been some rough starts to recent seasons, but other teams would be remiss to ever write off the Steelers, because we strike when teams least expect it.
Plus, we're tied for First in the AFC North.