What’s the definition of insanity?
Actually, scratch what I was about to say. You know how I was going to answer my own question. Besides, I’m not totally sure if that unsaid answer is the true definition of insanity.
As for my own sanity, it’s probably going to take a hit this week since I have no doubt that some Steelers fans will ask that tired old question and follow it up with that tired old answer.
But who could blame them?
They’re probably a little crazy themselves after watching the Steelers turn in yet another frustratingly familiar performance in a 16-10 loss to the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday Night Football.
Why haven’t the Steelers thrown away that script yet? Why do they keep reading those same pages and reciting those same lines?
Ten lousy points on offense? Three interceptions thrown by rookie quarterback, Kenny Pickett? Untimely penalties at critical moments? Receivers falling down when they’re not running into one another?
But, hey, at least the offense won the time of possession battle, right?
Actually, that was probably a bad thing.
By possessing the football more than their opponents, the Steelers had even more time to show us that, no matter who the offensive coordinator or quarterback is, you’re going to continue to get the same offensive (and I do mean offensive) product you’ve been watching since 2019.
The silver lining in the prolonged inept offensive show the Steelers put on on Sunday night was the fact that the defense didn’t have to be on the field as long. Why? It may have dropped a few more interceptions, otherwise.
That’s right, Teryl Austin’s unit dropped four passes thrown by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa that any other elite defense may have turned into momentum-shifting interceptions.
It’s a good thing this Steelers' defense isn’t elite. Maybe that’s why it didn’t manage to turn any of Tagovailoa’s misguided passed into actual interceptions.
Perhaps the most galling missed pick occurred at the end of the first half, right after the Steelers cut Miami’s lead to 13-10 on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Pickett to receiver George Pickens.
The Dolphins took the ensuing kickoff and began to march right down the field (naturally) and eventually set themselves up with a first and 10 from the Pittsburgh 28. Tagovailoa attempted to find receiver Tyreek Hill down the left sideline, but cornerback Cam Sutton was in the perfect position to not only defend it, but he turned his body around and got both hands on that sucker. Unfortunately, since Sutton was playing the shark to Tagovailoa’s dolphin (or is it the dolphin to Tua’s shark? I don’t know animals), he dropped the pass and kept Miami’s drive alive. The Dolphins ultimately took advantage and extended the score to 16-10 on a 47-yard field goal by kicker Jason Sanders.
That field goal may not have seemed like a huge deal while you were enjoying NBC’s halftime coverage—especially considering the Steelers had trailed by a score of 13-0 early in the first half—but the offense spent the entire second half futilely chasing the touchdown that would have given Pittsburgh the victory.
Too tall a task? Clearly.
As for the calling card of Pittsburgh’s defense—pressure—Tagovailoa didn’t feel any all night. He was sacked zero times and hit just once. Where have we seen that stat line before? Oh, right, two weeks earlier when the Steelers' pass rush failed to make life even marginally uncomfortable for Josh Allen and the Bills' offense.
Thankfully for the Steelers' defense, the ineptitude of the offense will allow the fans and the media to come to its defense (no pun intended) with familiar refrains about how it did enough to win and deserved better.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly have that script memorized.
Now it’s on to Philadelphia where the Steelers (2-5) haven’t won a game since before most of us were born.
Thankfully, the Steelers seem to know their lines by heart. Their performance is the same vs. any opponent and in any venue.
It’s familiar. It’s unoriginal. It’s not going to change any time soon.