My grandfather used to have a saying when it looked like a Pittsburgh sports team was about to have a bad year: "They just don't have it."
Despite the turnover in personnel and the predictions by many that the 2013 season would be a mediocre one for the Steelers, optimism was high for the team's home opener against Tennessee at Heinz Field, Sunday afternoon. And after the Titans' Darius Reynaud flubbed the opening kickoff and inexplicably took a knee and a subsequent safety to give Pittsburgh the fastest 2-0 lead in NFL history, 2013 looked like it just might be different for the Black and Gold......that is until they brought out the cart for Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey.
On Pittsburgh's first offensive possession after the safety induced free kick, Pouncey was injured and lost for the year with a torn ACL and MCL when second year guard David DeCastro rolled into his knee. Not long after that injury, with the ball inside the Titans 10 yard line, starting tailback Isaac Redman fumbled a high hand off by Ben Roethlisberger that Tennessee recovered in the end zone for a touch back.
And just like that, inside of five minutes of the first quarter, the Steelers continued two themes that plagued them all of last season: Critical injuries and a failure to capitalize on a golden opportunity against an inferior opponent.
But was it an inferior opponent? Pittsburgh was a seven point favorite over the Titans on Sunday, but you wouldn't know it by how the game unfolded, from the Redman fumble, onward, as Tennessee won, 16-9, in yet another ugly home performance.
Other 2012-like themes for the Steelers in Week 1:
-Tennessee won the turnover battle, 2-0, and scored a touchdown after a Roethlisberger INT late in the first half, which ultimately proved to be the difference.
-Pittsburgh only managed to rush for 32 yards on the ground, including nine by Redman on eight carries.
-In addition to the serious injury to Pouncey, Larry Foote also appears to be gone for the season with a ruptured biceps, which makes the injuries to LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cortez Allen and Ryan Clark seem pretty minor.....for now.
-Roethlisberger was harassed most of the afternoon, as Tennessee's front seven pressured him frequently, resulting in five sacks.
-The Steelers defense only got to Jake Locker one time the entire afternoon.
Even with the struggles of the previous season, I think many fans had a Week 1 victory over the Titans penciled in. Now, with games coming up against better competition the next two weeks--Cincinnati and Chicago--an 0-3 start seems more likely than not.
Sunday's loss to the Titans was Pittsburgh's fourth straight in games that have mattered since that epic Charlie Batch-led victory over the Ravens last December.
So, what may have looked like a new chapter in Steelers history, early on, turned into the same old story fairly quickly.
Nobody knew my grandfather, but many are familiar with former Cardinals coach Dennis Green and his famous quote. To borrow and twist that memorable line: Maybe the 2013 Steelers are who many feared they would be. And unfortunately, I don't think anyone will be crowning them anytime soon.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Titans at Steelers: Postgame recap, news and updates
- Steelers Week 1 Injuries: Everything we know
- Dwyer isn't likely to return, but Baron Batch is s possibility
- Winners and Losers from Steelers loss to Titans
- Steelers vs. Titans Final Score: Pittsburgh savaged in season-opening loss to Tennessee
- Maybe the 2013 Steelers are who many feared they were
- The list of injured players begs only two questions the Steelers must ask themselves
- Troy Polamalu times snap count again, gets tackle-for-loss of Titans QB Jake Locker