When all was said and done, the Pittsburgh Steelers and their global fan base watched Ezekiel Elliott run into the end zone giving the Dallas Cowboys their 8th win in a row, and the Steelers their 4th straight defeat.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but this loss falls solely on Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler and the Steelers defense.
After the loss, when asked about the decision to go for four two-point conversions in the game, Tomlin stated the team wanted to “stay aggressive”. There is aggressive, and then there is foolishness.
To be fair, no one should have had a problem with the team going for two after their first touchdown of the game. The Steelers have had tremendous success the past two seasons with the play, but after the next score Tomlin decided to go for it again, rather than just take the points, and those points would be solely missed in the waning minutes of the game.
Once you fail on two conversions, you are constantly playing a game of catch up with yourself, not necessarily against the opposition. When all was said and done, the Steelers were 0-for-4 on conversions in Week 10.
As strong as you, or I, might feel about the decisions to go for the conversions, the team’s defense was truly the most disappointing aspect of the game. Sure, you can blame some goofy play calls on Todd Haley and the offense, but the offense did more than enough to win the football game. Enough to the tune of Ben Roethlisberger driving the team down the field and scoring the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.
All you needed was a play. All you needed was a stop.
And what did you get? Multiple completions to Jason Witten. A ridiculous facemask penalty, and the defense allowing Elliott to go into the endzone untouched.
Tomlin said after the game the team, specifically the defense, lacked “splash” plays. This is the second week in a row the Steelers have been out done by the big play. In Week 9 it was Mike Wallace’s 95-yard catch and run and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. This week it was Elliott’s huge screen pass, Dez Bryant’s 50-yard reception and the game-winning run.
Maybe this team isn’t that good, or maybe this is an issue surrounding the entire organization.
Either way, the Steelers are now 4-5, and after the four game losing streak rolls on, their backs are against the wall. Some might call it a season and pack it in, but in the AFC North the season is far from over. The only question is can Mike Tomlin and his players get out of their own way to not just put an end to the losing streak, but to start a winning streak in it’s stead?
History suggests the odds aren’t looking good...