No way to spin 2-3 start
FRIDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2012 WRITTEN BY DAN GIGLER
Those faces pretty much sum up the state of the Steelers at the moment.
It's an election year, so go ahead -- act like a politco and try and spin this loss.
Sure, you can say that the offense was generally more than competent enough to win.
And hey, the Steelers were without LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu, then lost Rashard Mendenhall (again), Isaac Redman, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert.
A blocked punt? That's flukey.
And Ike Taylor -- a pretty darn good cornerback by anyone's standards -- may have had the single worst regular season game of his professional career.
Even Mike Tomlin, the normally unflappable head coach whiffed too. He probably should've had his team punt at the end instead of having his kicker attempt a career-long field goal and miss, which in turn gave the Titans a short field with a chance to win.
None of that matters.
Because for the third time this season, the Steelers simply could not make a stop when they absolutely needed to. And for the second time, they blew a fourth quarter lead of a touchdown or more to gift-wrap a victory to an "allegedly inferior" opponent.
There's no way to spin 2-3. And there's a mighty ominous thunderhead appearing on the horizon for the remainder of the 2012 season with a pair of dates with upstart Cincinnati and AFC North standard bearer Baltimore still to come.
No Mike Tomlin-coached Steelers team has started 2-3. Dating back to the beginning of the Cowher regime, only five Steelers teams have started 2-3. Those were in 2006, 2003, 2002, 2000 and 1999.
Only one of those teams made the postseason: the 2002 squad which lost in the divisional playoffs -- to Tennessee on the road by a field goal, no less. And that was during a year in which Tommy Maddox came out of nowhere to give Pittsburgh a surprise jump-start.
The others: 8-8, 6-10, 9-7 and 6-10.
Consider also that since 2001, the Steelers have made the playoff in consecutive years, then missed -- 2001 & 2002, playoffs; 2003 miss; 2004 & 2005, playoffs; 2006 miss; 2007 & 2008, playoffs; 2009 miss; 2010 & 2001, playoffs; 2012 ...
It's still too early to bet on a Pittsburgh-free postseason. But if the Steelers are unable to suddenly reinvent themselves by their Oct. 21 date at Cincinnati, history suggests it's might be a lock.
But hey, they still get to play Cleveland twice. (Now that's some spin for you.)