View Full Version : What went wrong?

11-28-2006, 07:57 AM
What went wrong?

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A 27-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens ended any talk of playoffs for the defending Super Bowl champions.
It also represented an unfortunate convergence for the Steelers: Everything that had gone wrong in previous games seemed to go wrong all at once in the same game.

Hence, the performance that coach Bill Cowher labeled "pitiful."

"We knew coming in that we had to play a perfect game," wide receiver Hines Ward said after the Steelers dropped to 4-7 and unofficially dropped out of the Super Bowl running. "We did totally the opposite. We played our worst game ever, probably."

What set the loss apart from others is the Steelers were completely dominated. In every other defeat this season, the Steelers had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.

With the Steelers having nothing to look forward to entering December, here is a look at how they got to this point.

Beleaguered Ben

Ben Roethlisberger threw two more interceptions Sunday, pushing his season total to 19, and he also lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

Roethlisberger never had a chance against the Ravens' relentless defense, but he clearly hasn't been the same quarterback as he was his first two seasons in the league.

Year Games* INT
2004 14 11
2005 12 9
2006 10 19
*Regular season

Terrible thing

Roethlisberger is closing on Jim Finks' dubious team record for interceptions in a season (26), and he's had some costly ones. OK, really, really costly ones.

? Two of his four interceptions against the Oakland Raiders were returned for touchdowns. The Raiders didn't score an offensive touchdown in their 20-13 win.

? With the Steelers leading Cincinnati, 7-0 in second quarter, and on the Bengals' 6-yard line, Roethlisberger tried to force the ball to Heath Miller in the end zone, and it was intercepted. What made his decision such a head-scratcher is it came on first down.

? Roethlisberger made another mistake generally attributed to inexperience against the Denver Broncos. With the Steelers inside the Broncos' 20-yard line and trailing, 21-10, Roethlisberger threw toward the sideline rather than take a sack. He couldn't get anything on the pass, and it was intercepted by Champ Bailey.

Scourge of the Steelers

Turnovers may be the biggest reason for the Steelers' fall, and it has been proven that there is a correlation between taking care of the football and winning.

Here is a comparison of the team's turnover ratio and record during recent seasons.

Season +/- W-L
2003 -3 6-10
2004 +11 15-1
2005 +7 11-5
2006 -12 4-7

Helpful to a fault

The sheer number of turnovers probably hasn't been as galling to Cowher as the timing of some of them.

The Steelers have inexplicably extended a helping hand to opponents when they had a chance to bury them.

Take the Oct. 22 game in Atlanta. The Steelers were leading the Falcons, 17-7, and moving the ball with ease when a bungled exchange between Roethlisberger and center Jeff Hartings resulted in a lost fumble.

The Falcons parlayed that gift into a touchdown, and a game the Steelers appeared to be in controlling turned into a track meet.

The Falcons won, 41-38, in overtime.

Running on empty

That Falcons game highlighted what has become another full-blown problem: the Steelers' inability to establish the run on the road.

Here's look at the Steelers' leading rusher in road games this season compared to 2005:

Opponent Player Att. Yards
Houston Willie Parker 25 111
San Diego Jerome Bettis 17 54
Cincinnati Parker 18 131
Green Bay Duce Staley 15 76
Baltimore Parker 18 59
Indianapolis Parker 12 43
Minnesota Parker 14 81
Cleveland Parker 17 130

Opponent Player Att. Yards
Jacksonville Parker 11 20
San Diego Parker 14 57
Atlanta Parker 20 47
Oakland Parker 22 83
Cleveland Parker 16 46
Baltimore Parker 10 22

Lapses on the line

The inconsistency of the running game - the Steelers are averaging 169 rushing yards in five games at Heinz Field - can be traced to the offensive line's inability to consistently control the line of scrimmage.

The line that returned intact from last season has already given up 39 sacks - compared to 32 in all of 2005 - and there were two critical times this season when the Steelers couldn't get enough push to get a yard.

As poorly as Roethlisberger played against the Raiders, he got them to Oakland's 1-yard line late in the game with the Steelers needing a touchdown.

On first down, Parker was thrown for a 1-yard loss, then Najeh Davenport was dropped for a 3-yard loss.

The Steelers were stopped on downs.

The Steelers also couldn't get a yard at San Diego when they could have put the Chargers in a hole.

Leading, 7-0, and with the ball at the Chargers' 20-yard line, the Steelers were stuffed on third down.

They had to settle for a Jeff Reed field goal.

No passing grades

Philip Rivers led the Chargers back against the Steelers, picking the defense apart after a shaky first quarter. Opposing quarterbacks have generally fared well against the Steelers this season.

Michael Vick had never thrown more than two touchdown passes in a game before tossing four against the Steelers. The Steelers also gave up four touchdown passes to Cincinnati's Carson Palmer and three to Denver's Jake Plummer. They allowed more than two in a game only one time last regular season.

When not playing the Steelers, Plummer has been so shaky that Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has benched the veteran in favor of rookie Jay Cutler.

The secondary has struggled, particularly cornerback Ike Taylor, who was benched for the Ravens game.

It hasn't helped that the Steelers have not generated a consistent pass rush and that outside linebacker Joey Porter is in the midst of a pedestrian season.

Not-so-special teams

Special teams breakdowns have been major contributors in losses. They've even happened in games the Steelers have won, as Joshua Cribbs' 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown showed two weeks ago in Cleveland.

Here is a look at some of the most glaring breakdowns in the six of the seven losses, with the special teams getting a pass for decent play at Jacksonville.

vs. Cincinnati
Ricardo Colclough loses fumble on punt return. What was he doing back there in the first place?

at San Diego
Michael Turner 51-yard kickoff return. Cowher called it turning point in game.

at Atlanta
Santonio Holmes fumbles on punt return. The Falcons turn this into first of four TDs off turnovers.

at Oakland
Chris Carr 50-yard kickoff return. Leads to Raiders FG.

vs. Denver
Holmes fumbles on kickoff return. Just like that, it's 14-0 Broncos.

at Baltimore
Two poor punts by Chris Gardocki. Ravens take advantage of short field and score pair of first-half TDs.

- Scott Brown


11-28-2006, 08:16 AM
I hate recaps like this. They make me want to puke!
I know the Steelers team is better than this.

11-28-2006, 08:47 AM
Better title..............."What didn't go wrong?"

11-28-2006, 10:51 AM
Better title..............."What didn't go wrong?"

You nailed it dude. I asked this on another thread. Who is a bright light this year ? I thjought Keisel has played well for Kemo. After that, I cant think of one other positive.
Help me on this.

Atlanta Dan
11-28-2006, 12:36 PM
Better title..............."What didn't go wrong?"


The P-G and Trib-Review decided to publish their obituaries for the 2006 season today rather than wait until New Year's Day.

With Polamalu and Ward both out I could definitely see a loss to the Browns and/or Tampa Bay coming up. 6-10 may be a best case scenario now.

At least anyone coming back for 2007 will no lomger be thinking this team could simply turn it on when necessary. Hopefully they will get a softer schedule, but since they dodged New England and Indy this year I do not know how much easier it can get.

11-28-2006, 12:43 PM
I'm sure this a year we will all be looking forward to putting behind us. Those damn turn overs just killed us.

11-28-2006, 12:48 PM
Better title..............."What didn't go wrong?"

It would have been a shorter read!