Last night, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Washington Redskins 23-6 on Monday Night Football. The game was truly a tale of two teams. No, the two teams that I’m talking about aren’t the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins. The two teams that I’m talking about are the Steelers Defense, and the Steelers Offense.
The Steelers Defense was dominant. Physical. Fast. Bruising. Impressive.
The Steelers Offense was docile. Futile. Schizophrenic. Baffling. Infuriating.
On defense, the Steelers held the NFL’s leading rusher to just 51 yards on 13 carries. Clinton Portis was rendered a complete non-factor in the game. Sure, he became the first opposing running back this season to break a run of more than 20 yards against the Steelers defense. However, after his 22 yard run in the 1st quarter, Portis was held to a quiet 29 yards for the rest of the game.
The Redskins came into the game with QB Jason Campbell enjoying a quiet, but efficient season. He had not thrown a single interception all season. But of course, he hadn’t faced the Steelers defense yet. The Steelers’ “D” forced 2 interceptions on Campbell. They also sacked him 7 times. One sack by LaMarr Woodley was so brutal that it reminded me of Joe “Turkey” Jones’ vicious sack of Terry Bradshaw in 1976. Woodley grabbed Campbell, and swung him around like a rag doll before body slamming him to the ground.
In every way, the Steelers’ defense dominated the Redskins offense. Even Redskins’ coach Jim Zorn had to admit as much. This was Zorn’s review of the Steelers’ defense: “Fast. Very physical…… They were the #1 defense in the NFL, and probably still are. They lived up to their billing. They’re good”.
Fans in Western Pennsylvania can feel proud when they think about the performance of the Steelers defense. They are the embodiment of the tough, hard-nosed, blue collar town that they represent.
The Steelers offense, on the other hand……… Sure, the Steelers managed to score 23 points, but was I the only one who was frustrated, and at times embarrassed, while watching the Steelers offense? Even the 6 points that the Steelers’ defense surrendered were really the fault of the Steelers’ offense.
The Steelers started the game with a completely baffling play; an on-sides kick on the opening kickoff. WTF???!!!! Of course, the Redskins recovered the kick and started their first drive in great field position. Four plays later, the Redskins were on the board with a field goal. Thanks, Coach Tomlin. Next time, avoid the temptation to smoke one of Santonio Holmes’ blunts before the game. That was a really stupid play.
The Redskins’ other field goal happened as a result of a Ben Roethlisberger interception. Four plays later, the Redskins had another field goal. Thanks Steelers’ Offense. Way to let the Defense down. Thou truly sucketh.
Before going out with a shoulder injury at half-time, Ben Roethlisberger was 5/17 passing for a total of 50 yards, with no TD’s and one interception. Yuck!
The thing that baffles me most is why the Steelers offense is so bad. I just can’t figure it out. They have weapons. They have a franchise quarterback. And contrary to popular opinion, the offensive line is not totally incompetent.
I’m not sure if the blame goes to Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians (although on this election day, Arians definitely gets my vote), or to QB Ben Roethlisberger. Perhaps the blame should be shared equally.
One thing that was very clear was that once Ben Roethlisberger went out and Byron Leftwich came in, things completely changed for the Steelers’ offense. Leftwich was cool, calm, and collected in the pocket. He led the Steelers on several nice drives, and ended up 7/10 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating for the game was 145.8 versus a 15.1 (that’s right, 15.1) rating for Roethlisberger.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Ben Roethlisberger should be benched. You don’t do that to $100 million franchise quarterbacks. However, Big Ben has been battling injuries all year. Perhaps it would be wise to let him heal up a bit. Byron Leftwich is a former franchise quarterback. He can keep things afloat while Ben heals.
I am reminded of the 2006 season when Ben Roethlisberger came back too quickly from a motorcycle accident and an emergency appendectomy, and went on to have a totally horrendous season. History has shown that Ben is willing to play while hurt, even if it is to the detriment of the team. Perhaps, for the good of the team, Ben should sit out a week or two and let his body heal. Then perhaps he can come back and lead an offensive attack that is worthy of wearing the same jersey as the Steelers Defense.
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