“We weren’t ready for prime time tonight.”
No kidding, coach.
After the embarrassing 33-3 loss at the hand of the New England Patriots Sunday night, Coach Mike Tomlin appeared frustrated, much like the Steelers’ fans who endured the pain and watched the entire game. It was not enjoyable. It was embarrassing.
“It’s humbling,” Tomlin added. “It sucks.”
Yes it does.
I admit I had put this game in the loss column when the NFL schedule first came out for 2019 back in April. I believed it was a difficult task for the Steelers. They were on the road, facing the Super Bowl champions on the night they dropped their championship banner, and they were the largest projected underdog of any of their 2019 games. If there was any game Steelers were supposed to lose this season, it was this one.
But not like this.
I admit the Steelers were in the game in the first quarter, or at least for the first part of it. Technically once the Patriots scored the first touchdown with just under five minutes remaining in the opening quarter they had already secured enough points to win the game. But the game wasn’t over by any means.
What is frustrating when looking back at the game is how close the Steelers were staying in it. Down 10-0 going into the second quarter, the Steelers came up inches short on a third and one and had to punt. In fact, every drive in the quarter ended because the Steelers could not execute on a play in which they only needed one yard. That’s three separate drives which could have led to points which, instead, led to two punts and a turnover on downs. And against the Patriots you can’t fail to convert on a play like that, let alone three of them in the same quarter.
In addition to the failed short conversions which killed several drives, it was a combination of many little things which led to the Steelers losing by 30 points. Dropped passes. Missed blocks. One blown assignment for a play or two on defense. Taking an extra half second to shed a block. One missed tackle here and there. It was death by 1000 cuts.
Overall, the Steelers took care of the ball fairly well. Their lone turnover on the night was a 41 yard pass into the end zone which was intercepted. It came with less than five minutes to go when already trailing by 30 points, so it’s impact was pretty insignificant. In other words, it wasn’t giveaways which lead to the blowout.
The bottom line is the Steelers needed to play perfect football if they were going to go into Foxborough and get a win. Since they played far from perfect, they were far from winning. I had a lot of hope the Steelers would control the line of scrimmage. They didn’t. I thought they would put a lot of pressure on Tom Brady. They didn’t do that either. I thought I was going to be given a chance to cheer. I didn’t even get a chance to do that.
Say it again, Mike.
The biggest problem I have with the Steelers’ performance in Week 1 is my complete lack of confidence going forward for 2019. There just aren’t a lot of positives to take from this game. The Steelers didn’t execute. It’s exactly what Mike Tomlin said when asked about why the team wasn’t ready for prime time.
“We didn’t do the things we desired to do tonight,” Tomlin answered.
So now the 2019 season continues. I’m sure the people who want to see Coach Tomlin let go will come out in full force after this game. I’m sure everyone that had a negative thought about the Steelers in the off-season felt justified with this performance. I’m sure those of us who had a lot of hope for 2019 had that confidence crushed.
All the Steelers can do now is take the shot on the chin, get back up, and get ready to take another shot next week at Heinz Field against the Seattle Seahawks. This is the lone option they have in front of them. Hopefully in a week’s time the Steelers can right the ship and do the things they desire to do in their next game. If not, “it sucks” may become the calling card of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers.