After a game there are players who impress and some who disappoint. This is where our weekly “Winners and Losers” column was born. Sometimes being labeled a loser is a bit harsh, but ultimately there are players every game who simply don’t measure up to “the standard”.
It says something when every week Antonio Brown does something to make you simply say, “Wow.” This is a player who has been doing it for a long time, and to continue to amaze like he’s done is something to behold. Brown finished the day with 10 receptions on 14 targets for 110 yards and a touchdown. Brown is becoming THE offense.
McDonald didn’t have a reception or even a target, but he did have one of the better hustle plays in recent memory by chasing down the ball carrier on the blocked field goal at the end of the first half. It was his hustle which kept the score within reach. Despite the outcome, he should be applauded for his effort.
The Steelers were able to tally two takeaways from the Bears, and probably should have had more, which doubled their season total in one game. The Steelers’ offense was able to put up 10 points off of those turnovers.
There are times I wish missed tackles were an official statistic. If so, I have no doubt the Steelers would be leading the league in this category by a large margin. The tackling was atrocious. There were several key plays on third down and in overtime which should have been tackles for losses or minimal gains, but instead they turned into big gains for the Bears. For as much tackling as the Steelers consistently are lauded for during training camp, they sure don’t tackle very well.
The Steelers’ defense was able to create two takeaways, but it was a shame the team also had two giveaways. Eli Rogers’ fumbled punt might have been the worst, especially after the defense had a quick three-and-out, but the strip sack of Ben Roethlisberger also killed a potential drive. You don’t win too many games when you turn the ball over twice.
Danny Smith, the Steelers fan base’s favorite whipping boy, had done a lot in the first two weeks to improve fans’ overall view of him as a coach. His unit had been top-notch during that stretch, but the old Danny Smith special teams emerged in Week 3. The muffed punt by Rogers, and the blocked field goal at the end of the half shined a light on what was an inconsistent day all around.
The Steelers were leading the league both in penalties and yards heading into Week 3. Although they only had six penalties for 40 yards, a lot of those penalties were killers. Chris Hubbard’s holding call and the numerous pre-snap penalties all need to stop if this team wants to be a contender. You rarely, if ever, go through a game without a penalty, but bad timing plus the type of penalty can be tough to overcome.
If you’ve followed BTSC for any length of time since I’ve been running this fine establishment, you know I don’t like to point to penalties as the reason for a loss. But I do have an issue with the Bears’ overtime, game-winning, drive. Experts always say there’s holding on every play, and that’s true, but when it happens directly in front of the ball, at such an important juncture of the game, it’s inexcusable. Fans ridicule players for missed passes or tackles, and the officials should see the same ridicule after missed calls.
Just look at these:
don't forget the absurd hold on burns pic.twitter.com/RyRcP4lqMt— mike limbacher (@LimbacherMike) September 24, 2017
and that one. To miss both of those is just totally absurd. pic.twitter.com/ok7QDQ0UZs— mike limbacher (@LimbacherMike) September 24, 2017
Two plays. Same drive. Inexcusable.
3rd Down Offense
Todd Haley’s first year in Pittsburgh wasn’t pretty, but at the same time the team sported a very solid third-down offense. In fact, the third down offense hasn’t ever looked this bad under Haley. The Steelers finished the day 4-for-11 on third down. I just can’t imagine how a team with so many offensive weapons cannot convert on more key downs and distances. Penalties are an issue but, at the same time, this team struggles on third downs and several of those were 3rd-and-short. Just not good enough.
The Overall Offense
The Pittsburgh Steelers are loaded on offense, and the organization has spent entirely too much money on the unit for it to fail to even put up 20 points on a team like the Bears. If it weren’t for Antonio Brown, it would be easy to say every player on offense is under-performing at this juncture in the season. The defense is as advertised, even after the Week 3 loss, but the offense is under-achieving at a ridiculous clip.
I like Mike Tomlin. I think he’s a great coach, but he certainly has his issues. I can’t be an apologist for him anymore when it comes to the team’s issues on the road, especially against teams who are below .500. Tomlin’s record now is 5-13 in those situations. Think about that. I’m not calling for Tomlin’s job, but I am calling for a change in procedure. Something needs to happen, because this isn’t a fluke anymore. It’s pathetic.