Long live the streak.
The Philadelphia Eagles obliterated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 on Sunday, which is the worst loss that Pittsburgh has endured since 1989. More importantly, it has been 58 years since Pittsburgh last defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia, which is an almost incomprehensible streak of futility.
Pittsburgh's defense was awful (allowed 426 total yards, including 301 to a rookie quarterback), and the offense fared no better (257 total yards, including just 21 yards for DeAngelo Williams, the league's leading rusher).
With games against Kansas City and New York looming, Pittsburgh's once-promising season appears to be in serious trouble.
Let's just count to 10 on this one.
Yes, the Steelers just played by far the worst game that they have played during Mike Tomlin's coaching tenure. Yes, Pittsburgh's secondary (one that I claimed was on its way to becoming a legitimate unit) looked like a junior varsity unit against a rookie quarterback. Yes, Pittsburgh's inability to pressure opposing quarterbacks is a reason for concern. So, too, is the lack of a legitimate No. 2 receiver.
But, at the risk of sounding like someone's overly supportive mom, it's just one game.
The Steelers entered hostile territory against a young, red-hot team. Jim Schwartz developed and implemented a defensive game plan that worked to perfection (Ben Roethlisberger completed just 24 of 44 passes and was sacked four times), and Carson Wentz looked as good as advertised (23 for 31 for 301 yards and two touchdowns). Once in a while, everything goes wrong.
With that said, I have a column to write, so let's get to it:
Stock up: Antonio Brown
As expected, Brown bounced back in a big way after being held to just four catches for 39 yards in Week 2 against the Bengals. Brown caught 12 passes on 18 targets for 140 yards, which puts him back on pace for yet another 120-catch, 1,600ish-yard season.
Stock up: Le'Veon Bell
DeAngelo Williams has been awesome, but Bell is a legitimate top-tier running back. The Steelers will eagerly welcome him and his All-Pro skill set to the lineup when the Chiefs (who absolutely demolished the Jets on Sunday) travel to Pittsburgh next weekend.
An appropriate preface:
Aside from Brown, every player on the Steelers played pretty terribly. David DeCastro, an All-Pro guard, allowed a pair of sacks, while Markus Wheaton, one of the most sure-handed players on the team, dropped three extremely catchable passes, including a touchdown. Roethlisberger missed a ton of easy (easy for him, anyway) throws. Various defensive players continued to miss tackles. These are issues that were incredibly obvious in Sunday's game, so I won't waste your attention spans by harping on these issues. To be frank, everyone's stock is down. To highlight a few prominent examples:
The coaching staff: Stock down
Down 31 points in the fourth quarter is no place for a pair of MVP candidates to be hanging out, so I'm having trouble understanding why Pittsburgh permitted Brown and Roethlisberger to remain in Sunday's game. A single misstep or awkward fall is enough to derail Pittsburgh's season (or, more importantly, Roethlisberger's or Brown's careers). There was virtually no chance that Pittsburgh would come even remotely close to defeating the Eagles on Sunday, so Mike Tomlin and company probably would've done well to kick the tires on ol' Landry Jones.
Although Eli Rogers sustained an injury and was forced to exit Sunday's game, the fact that Pittsburgh's trotted Brown out to shag punts in a 30-point game is laughably stupid.
The offensive gameplan: Stock down
This is almost an unfair point to mention simply because Pittsburgh was forced to abandon the run game in the middle of the second quarter. However, Pittsburgh's inability to establish their ground game from the get-go was certainly a contributing factor to their woeful performance on Sunday. With Bell set to return next weekend, though, I'm pretty confident that Pittsburgh can get its rushing attack figured out.
The passing game is a different story. Kansas City's secondary is light years ahead of Philadelphia's unit in terms of talent, and second-year cornerback Marcus Peters probably caught an interception while you were reading this sentence. Without question, the unidimensionality of the Steelers' second-half offense made completing passes difficult, but the Chiefs are going to give the Steelers some trouble next Sunday. Believe that.
The front seven: Stock down
The supposed strong suit of Pittsburgh's defense allowed 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Eagles running backs. In addition, the Steelers are still sitting on just a single defensive sack this season. Understandably, Pittsburgh's base nickel defense makes sacks hard to come by since the coaching staff routinely sends just four free rushers, but the Steelers need to start generating some consistent pressure on the quarterback in order to assist the secondary.
Overall: Stock even
Sunday's game was honestly such an uncharacteristic performance by the Steelers that it's tough to take it seriously. If the loss to Philadelphia has you legitimately concerned about the rest of the season, keep in mind that the 2014 Steelers lost to the Browns by three touchdowns and still ended up winning the division that year.
Make no mistake, you should be a little worried, as three of Pittsburgh's next four games will come against playoff-caliber teams, including a Week 7 showdown with the Patriots. But, given the Steelers' ability to make requisite adjustments to the game plan, their outlook for this season remained unchanged.