The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Obviously, the knee-jerk reaction here is to fire the coaching staff and cut nearly every player. But a second viewing doesn't necessarily show that's necessary. It actually wasn't as bad as I initially feared. The Steelers' offensive line wasn't as bad as I thought, and the feeling I had immediately after the game was to put three of the five (Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey) in the Losers column, but they collectively didn't play too badly.
But they are indirectly tied to the main problem this team's offense has right now. Ben Roethlisberger is getting hit.
He's getting hit with the ball in his hands. He's getting hit after he throws the ball and he's getting hit at a period of the play in which a personal foul is usually present. In this case, the Steelers' loss against the Jets, there were two of them.
Jason Babin's pass-rush well after the whistle was blown when he shot into Roethlisberger's knees was an even dirtier play than what Mike Mitchell did at the end of the game, so I really don't want to hear anyone (Nick Mangold, ya listenin'?) complaining about dirty play. Babin was going through DeCastro, who wasn't engaging him because the whistle blew. There is no way I'm going to believe Babin thought the play was still ongoing.
The second flag, the one Ben took on James Harrison's first-ever target (although I'm not sure he was trying to throw it to him), Ben was blasted by the defender a solid two steps after he released the ball. That one is more concerning.
It appears Ben sees it coming and he's just getting rid of the ball. The defender illegally hit him, and he'll likely be fined for it, but Ben knew it was coming. It forced a bad throw.
It's hard to wonder why teams are hitting him late like this. Roethlisberger's performance in this game wasn't quite as bad as I had initially thought it was. He wasn't great, but we're again seeing the ill-effects of Roethlisberger getting hit early in the game. All things considered, he wasn't terrible. But he missed a few throws we're used to seeing him make, and he made some bizarre decisions that seemed inspired more by the ghosts floating around his legs and in the landing zone of his right foot.
Roethlisberger has been hit in the past, but never has he taken this many blatantly illegal shots. It's clear to me there's a mandate coming from the opposing team to hit him however possible, because it's obvious he changes with each one. In a game against an arch rival (Baltimore) or a game in which jobs may be lost (the Jets), a fine and a penalty may be acceptable if it renders a significant mental blow to the team's best player.
That's really the main thing I'm taking away from this game. Ben didn't perform quite as badly as I initially thought but those hits, along with a few others, got into his head. The floating pass to Martavis Bryant down the seam was horrible, as was the decision to try to thread the needle to Antonio Brown at the front pylon in the worst goal-line series the team has run all year. They looked more like he was just trying to get rid of the ball. Ben doesn't throw balls away, but both of those should have been intercepted.
Kind of depressing how that ended up being the real limitation of the Jets' weak secondary. They left plays on the field.
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