The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.
This is the definition of discipline, something unfamiliar to the Steelers offense in six of the first eight quarters of the 2014 season.
Pittsburgh's offense has ignored football's fundamental laws of success- converting on third downs, not committing turnovers in the red zone, capitalizing on scoring opportunities- and the punishment for that disobedience appeared starkly in a 26-6 loss to the Ravens on Thursday night.
The Steelers offense did enough good things in the first half of their 30-27 win over Cleveland in Week 1 to escape with a passing grade. Unfortunately for them, the Steelers offensive woes spilled over into Week 2, and Baltimore eagerly took full advantage of Pittsburgh's mistakes.
For the most part, moving the ball and generating scoring opportunities isn't the issue. It's what the Steelers have done-and failed to do-once they're in position to score points.
The Steelers compiled two drives that totaled 23 plays and 137 total yards in the first half, producing only three points. Justin Brown's fumble inside the Ravens 20-yard-line thwarted Pittsburgh's 12-play, 64-yard opening drive that took more than eight minutes off of the clock. With momentum now on their side, the Ravens marched through Pittsburgh's defense and capitalized on their red-zone opportunity with a touchdown pass.
After kicking a field goal to cap off an 11-play drive two possessions later, Pittsburgh again drove into Ravens territory on their fourth and final drive of the first half. But a sack of Ben Roethlisberger and a false-start penalty ensured the Steelers would remain behind by the score of 10-3 at intermission.
Given the ball at the Ravens' 42-yard-line on their first possession of the third quarter, Pittsburgh moved to Baltimore's 21 before another sack of Roethlisberger forced the Steelers to settle for a field goal and a four-point deficit.
After seeing their defense continue to bend but not break, Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense put together their third scoring drive of the game to move ahead 17-6. The Steelers responded with two incompletions, and the Ravens' offense distanced themselves further by adding another field goal to start the fourth quarter.
Somehow still in a two-possession game, Pittsburgh sealed their fate when Heath Miller put the ball on the carpet at the Steelers own 20-yard-line to set up another Ravens field goal.
But at least give the Steelers credit on this night for being consistent. Down 26-6 late, Pittsburgh drove to Baltimore's 14-yard-line on their final possession before the Ravens picked off Roethlisberger, ending the game on a fitting note.The Steelers were 0-2 in red-zone trips Thursday while committing three turnovers on their nine possessions.
Give the Steelers credit for their fight. Give Roethlisberger credit for his patience as he continues to wait for any one of his receivers not named Antonio Brown to catch more passes than Le'Veon Bell. While Markus Wheaton is doing well in his elevated role as the No.2 receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey has yet to record a catch in two games with the Steelers. Lance Moore has yet to suit up for Pittsburgh as he is battling injuries. Rookie Dri Archer was also a scratch from last night's game as he heals from his injury sustained in Week 1.
Given those issues and the ones the Steelers have on the other side of the ball (run defense, lack of producing turnovers, etc.), Pittsburgh still easily could have won this game. It's a lack of discipline that cost the Steelers the chance at being 2-0 overall against AFC North foes. Let's hope it doesn't cost them another game in nine days in Carolina.