Ben Roethlisberger was back, but the Steelers were still unable to come away with a victory against the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. Going into the fourth quarter, it seemed the Steelers would win. The Bengals fought back, however, scoring 10 points in the final quarter to come away with 16-10 win at Heinz Field.
What's worth freaking out over?
Le'Veon Bell's Injury- Freak Out
Steelers star running back Le'Veon Bell suffered a gruesome knee injury in the first half and was carted off of the field. Initial reports suggest that Bell does not have a torn ACL but, even with just a torn MCL, he's almost certainly out for the rest of the year. It's already being reported that he'll end up on season-ending IR.
Running back DeAngelo Williams is a veteran athlete who filled in admirably for Bell during the first two weeks of the season, when Bell was serving his suspension. But Bell brings more to the field, including a synergy with Roethlisberger that a first-year backup cannot begin to replicate.
While Bell's injury is worrisome, the sheer quantity of injuries the squad has suffered is even more devastating. Maurkice Pouncey, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Shazier, Kelvin Beachum, and Le'Veon Bell are all critical to the Steelers success, and each has been injured at some point during the season.
At this point, it has to be difficult to plan games not having key personnel, and even more difficult adjusting in mid-game when players are carted off injured. The injury to Bell-- and the injury situation in general-- definitely merits a Freak Out rating. Injuries kill momentum, lower morale and make it more difficult to win (obviously). There's no silver lining here.
Roethlisberger's Nerves- Chill Out
Let's face it. Roethlisberger's nerves were a big factor in Sunday's loss to the Bengals. He threw two consecutive interceptions, one of which was after a painfully long, drawn-out, scamper-extend-scamper-some-more routine. Roethlisberger needed to be clutch, but instead he choked. The Steelers should have, could have, and needed to win against the Bengals.
Do fans need to freak out about Roethlisberger's nerves? No. Big Ben is a professional. The first game back after a big injury, at home, against an AFC-North rival is a high-pressure situation. Yes, he's making enough money and has enough experience and talent to perform well in those conditions, but on Sunday he didn't.
Penalties- Freak Out
The Steelers had a lot of stupid, avoidable penalties on Sunday. There's very little room for error and the team cannot afford to give away yardage. The Steelers had their worst game in terms of penalties with 10 for 91 yards. The Bengals were similarly inept, with 10 penalties for 94 yards.
One of the most frustrating penalties was against Mike Mitchell for taunting. Other frustrating penalties included ones against Robert Golden for an illegal block above the waist, facemask penalties against both Antwon Blake and Martavis Bryant, and unsportsmanlike conduct against James Harrison.
Combine avoidable penalties with erroneous penalties called by distracted, inept, or confused referees, and games can be lost rather easily on such mistakes and missteps.