For the first time in the Mike Tomlin era, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell to 0-2 to start the season after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 20-10 on Monday Night Football. While the defense held its own, the ineffective offense, total lack of running game and turnovers doomed their efforts. The Bengals not only took advantage of the turnovers on offense, their defense stifled the Steelers inept rushing attack and pressured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger all game.Giovani Bernard, the fist back off the board scored two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving) to pace their offensive attack. Bernard’s big night, was backed up by rookie fist round pick tight end Tyler Eifert, who set up the fist touchdown with a 61-yard reception on what appeared to be a blown coverage.
While the statistics for the Steelers defense do not look great, giving up 407 yards of offense and allowing 35 minutes in time of possession, they do not tell the entire story. With no offensive support, the defense was always on the field, and that clearly took a toll. In all, the offense failed to register a first down on seven drives, including zero in the third quarter of action. On top of that, both of their turnovers took place inside the Red Zone, raising that number to three on the season. For a struggling offense, it is impossible to win if they continue to take points off the board.
For the second straight game, Roethlisberger seemed discordant with the wide receivers. Yes, he completed 20 of 37 passes for 251 yards one touchdown and one interception, but he missed numerous open receivers. Even on the interception, he had plenty of time to make the throw. Yet, the ball sailed and was tipped for the pick.
Of course, the offense could have been helped by any type of rushing attack. Starter Isaac Redman, who was banged up on the opening kick off, appeared to be stuck in neutral both as a ball carrier and as a receiver. Never known for his speed to begin with, he offered no threat to the Bengals defense and quickly became an after thought once he returned. Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer both showed some burst, but neither were consistent, or given a chance to be consistent after the Steelers opened the game with three consecutive runs to Jones and failed to gain a first down.
The Steelers now start to prepare for their Sunday Night match-up against jay Cutler and the 2-0 Chicago Bears. At this point, that preparation must begin and end with the offense, especially the running game; a unit that could potentially see rookie running back Le’Veon Bell back in uniform in the near future.
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