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Maybe the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers are not a good football team

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 9:20am

The 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers don’t look like a good football team, which must mean they’re a bad one.

It wasn’t so long ago fans would have relished the thought of the Steelers’ high-powered offense getting the football to start the second half, just 13 minutes after overcoming a two-touchdown deficit to tie the game in front of a very loud and supportive crowd at Heinz Field.

Unfortunately, the Steelers’ offense isn’t so high-powered these days. As for that crowd, it doesn’t seem very loud either, and maybe that’s because those two-touchdown deficits are becoming just a little too familiar.

Pittsburgh followed an all-too-predictable script during a 26-14 loss to the Ravens at Heinz Field on Sunday night.

Baltimore, like the the Chiefs two weeks earlier, and like the Jaguars back on January 14, effortlessly marched down the field on its opening possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead before the home folks were even settled into their seats. Just moments later, following a fumble by Vance McDonald that gave the visitors the football at the Pittsburgh 31, it was 14-0 with 8:03 still to play in the opening quarter.

Sure, the Steelers played an inspired second quarter to tie the game at 14 right before the break, but the opening offensive possession of the third quarter—one that included two runs by James Conner and a short pass to Ryan Switzer that lost five yards—was anything but inspirational.

The Ravens put the Steelers away — and their home fans to sleep — by methodically controlling the ball and the clock during the final two periods, needing only four Justin Tucker field goals to ensure a victory.

The Steelers, meanwhile, could tally only 47 yards on 23 plays in the second half, never once making it beyond midfield — a “feat” that’s almost unheard of in modern professional football.

The loss dropped Pittsburgh to 1-2-1 on the season and marked the third-straight defeat at Heinz Field. In fact, dating back to December 17, the Steelers have now lost four straight home games to teams among the upper-echelon of the AFC (the Ravens might not have had much success in recent years, but they’re certainly in the playoff mix more often than not). And in Pittsburgh’s last three home losses, the opposition has scored an average of 18.6 points before the Steelers could even crack the scoreboard.

Like Patrick Mahomes and Blake Bortles before him, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco enjoyed great protection all night and barely had any of his 42 passes contested, completing 28 of them for 363 yards and two touchdowns.

The Ravens’ running backs didn’t gouge Pittsburgh’s defense, but Baltimore stayed ahead of the chains all evening, as second and three was much more common than second and 13.

As for Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he was again outshined by a passer of similar pedigree; he again couldn’t get on the same page with Antonio Brown, which is bizarre, given the connection between the two seemed almost effortless during the previous five or six seasons.

Back to the Steelers’ defense. What is its identity? Does it want to employ a zone, man-to-man or a combination of a lot of things? Is the unit a little too inexperienced to try various schemes? Should Keith Butler just simplify things until everyone has an idea of what they’re doing from week to week — or, heck, play to play?

Is Keith Butler even in charge of the defense any longer? And if he’s not, why is he still here?

People like to accuse head coach Mike Tomlin of not having his teams prepared to play sub-par opponents. But if it wasn’t for sub-par opponents, Pittsburgh might actually be winless through four weeks. It’s those upper-echelon opponents, the ones with the great coaching and similar talent, that have been outclassing the Steelers recently.

And good teams shouldn’t be getting outclassed by other good teams on a regular basis. The law of averages says those outcomes should even out over time. Yet, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

And that begs the question: are these Steelers a good team? My eyes tell me they’re not. The statistics certainly say the same thing.

Maybe that’s because the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers are anything but good—and the opposite of good is bad.

Steelers told Le’Veon Bell they plan on using the transition tag on him in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 8:00am

Despite believing there are teams out there willing to pay him the guarantees he’s looking for, Le’Veon Bell still hopes he’ll be back in Pittsburgh next year.

When Jeremy Fowler of ESPN posted a Tweet on Monday evening suggesting that Le’Veon Bell intended reporting to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, his initial assertion that the information had come from an unnamed company source made the claim feel somewhat speculative. In reality, the ESPN source was himself after he had spoken to Bell in Florida by telephone earlier in the day.

I just spoke to Le'Veon Bell, who got into everything -- the decision, how Earl Thomas injury confirmed he made the right one, why he doesn't expect to be traded and why he's holding out hope he'll be a Steeler long-term.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 1, 2018

While it would be fair to say the Steelers’ star running back hasn’t always been a man of his word, this latest report from Fowler at least provides some credible new insights about the running back’s plans for 2018 and beyond.

Glossing over the parts of the interview where Bell humorously suggests that “he is in prime physical condition and could play football “tomorrow” if he needed”, one of the more notable parts of this conversation involved his remarks about what Pittsburgh told him about their plans for him in 2019. As he revealed to Fowler.

“The Steelers told Bell during franchise tag negotiations that they would transition tag him in 2019, which would set the stage for Bell to negotiate with other teams while Pittsburgh holds his rights.”

While Fowler asserts this figure should be more than $17 million, it could actually be closer to $11.2 million if Bell reported by Week 7 — the cost of the transition tag being based on 120% of the running back’s salary this year. Missing six weeks of the season would actually hurt Bell when the transition tag is calculated, as per the rules of the CBA, and barring arbitration to reassert the maximum value Fowler states, the cost could be much lower than some expect.

Regardless of Pittsburgh’s intentions, Bell is still convinced there’s a team out there who will be prepared to pay him what he’s looking for, citing teams like the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles as clubs who might be interested in him.

“I know the guaranteed money will be there (in March). If a team wanted to, they could definitely do what they needed to do to make me happy and satisfied.”

Despite a number of media outlets stating that the Steelers had only offered him $10 million in guarantees in their last contract offer, Bell acknowledged to Fowler that it was actually $17 million, but far short of the number he was looking for. Considering the guarantees given to Todd Gurley and David Johnson, the former Michigan State product is not willing to budge from his position.

“It’s costing me some fans. A lot of people call me selfish but I’m really not. I’m doing it for guys behind me or guys who don’t understand what’s going on in the business of football. The 22 years I’ve been playing football, I’ve always brought value. I don’t think the Steelers valued me as much.”

Those assuming Bell has no intention of returning to Pittsburgh in 2019 might be surprised to hear he still believes that will happen.

“I could be naïve or hopeful, but at the end of the day I feel like that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t think they really want me gone. That could be me being prideful. But I’m still holding out hope.”

Given the way this saga has played out, I wonder how many fans are hoping for the same outcome. If he could play inside linebacker equally well, I would certainly be all in.

10 Things I think I thought after the Ravens dismantled the Steelers on Sunday night

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 6:45am

Trying to wrap my head around the ugly performance at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football.

The only thing worse than eating crow is crow eating you. Not only is it unpleasant, but it means you’re dead.

  1. Which brings me to my first thought — is this the end? I complained after the loss to the Chiefs how it seems the Steelers think their reputation is enough to win. Now I wonder if it was enough to make me think they could win. The Steelers lost this game because they are not very good. The vaunted O-line wasn’t very good. James Conner, Bell 2.0 wasn’t very good. Antonio Brown wasn’t very good. Big Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t very good. Weirdly, the defense wasn’t half bad. The window might have closed, friends.
  2. When Mike Tomlin walks out of the locker room to start the second half, he might as well just surrender a time-out and his challenge flag — it would save us all a lot of time.
  3. I believe it’s possible the apparent disconnect between AB’s brand and reality may have something to do with his lackluster start this year. Whether it makes any difference on the field or not, though, I pray the man can straighten out his personal life, for his sake and the sake of his kids.
  4. Bud Dupree had another nice game. For that I’m glad. I’d much rather have him prove his naysayers wrong, even if I’ve been one of them, than prove them right.
  5. “Next man up” is an incoherent myth. If the next man up were as good as the man he replaced, he would have replaced him already. The Steelers are without two of their brightest stars this year, one on either side of the ball. I don’t blame the front office for not fixing either problem. You don’t just run down to your corner “Ryan Shazier” store and pick up another one. And if Bell were ten times better than he already is, it still doesn’t mean the team could afford him. We’re fools if we think the Steelers are the same team without those two men. And, apropos thought No. 1, neither one is likely to come back.
  6. Next thought up? Next man up is an incoherent myth, on the sidelines as well. I don’t doubt that Todd Haley has personality issues. I don’t doubt that he and Ben had their struggles getting along. I do doubt that “Big Ben likes me” is a sufficient resume for an offensive coordinator in the NFL.
  7. It seems to me like both Haley and Fichtner think the way to keep a defense off balance is to run in passing situations, and to pass in running situations. Surprise! It doesn’t work. I miss Mike Mularkey, who understood, like a martial arts expert, how to use your enemy’s strengths against him. Misdirection was his game. And it was fun to watch.
  8. Even when the Steelers let me down, my beautiful wife keeps me going. She is the best.
  9. “A bad day at the office?” That’s Ben’s assessment? A bad day at the office is when the copy machine breaks and you have to meet with that annoying salesman. What happened at Heinz field was your biggest competitor coming to your office, eating your lunch then unleashing the SEC, the FBI and the Treasury Department hounds.
  10. If the Steelers lose to the Falcons, they’ll be 1-3-1, just a half game better than the Steelers were five games into the 1976 season, which might have been the best Steelers team ever. That group went on to win nine in a row, including three of which were shutouts. Were it not for the injury bug biting Franco and Rocky before the AFC Championship game against Oakland, the Steelers might have won a third in a row. Don’t stop believing.

Podcast: How soon until ‘enough is enough’?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 5:32am

After the Steelers endured a pathetic loss to the Ravens, BTSC’s Anthony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis recap the game and wonder when management will be fed up enough to take action.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' 2018 season got a whole lot less pessimistic with the Steelers’ win over Tampa in prime time on MNF. Any progress in that arena was Hulk Smashed with the heartless display against Baltimore, this time on SNF. BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis and Anthony Defeo took a day to recover from their melancholy. When time failed to heal that wound, our dismayed duo aired many a grievance in the latest edition of “Steelers Hangover."

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the call-in extravaganza. On this show, the fellas discussed the good, the bad, the ugly and the cure going forward.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Reactions
  • Grades: Valedictorians, Honor Roll and Detention Dwellers (Well, at least the third one)
  • When will enough be enough?
  • Closing Time/Last Call and fearing the Falcons
  • and MUCH MORE!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Android Users: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Mike Hilton hopeful to return to lineup vs. Falcons in Week 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 4:31am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the loser column after a poor performance vs. their divisional rival, the Baltimore Ravens, at Heinz Field in prime time in Week 4. With the Atlanta Falcons coming into Heinz Field for a Week-5 matchup, the Steelers will need to improve on their 1-2-1 record.

Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-Gold Links article.

This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet, and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.

Today we update some key injuries, most notably cornerback Mike Hilton

Let’s get to the news:

Free of pain, Steelers’ Hilton hoping to return against Falcons

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Slot cornerback Mike Hilton still has some stiffness in his elbow, plus lingering fluid that is preventing him from fully extending it, but he is optimistic about returning Sunday afternoon when the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Atlanta Falcons.

Hilton did not practice Wednesday and Friday last week and was limited to individual drills Thursday.

“The pain is pretty much out of the way,” Hilton said Monday. “If I get the full range of motion, I’ll be ready to go.”

Cameron Sutton replaced Hilton in the slot against the Ravens. The Steelers were without two regulars in Hilton and safety Morgan Burnett (groin). Safety Nat Berhe, who played in certain subpackages, left the game with a pectoral injury and was sporting a sling on his left arm Monday. Linebacker L.J. Fort was used in subpackages for the first time this season, logging 11 defensive snaps.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Hilton said. “We know it’s the next-man-up mentality. Some guys have to step up and be in positions now with a couple guys down. We have guys that can do it, we just have to put it all together.”

Tim Benz: An airing of grievances after Steelers’ lackluster effort vs. Ravens

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Our inaugural ”Airing Of Grievances” column after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago was so wildly popular, I think we are going to have to make this a tradition after any defeat the Steelers suffer.

Heck, maybe some wins, too.

If there are any moving forward. With the way this season is going, there may be far more of the former than the latter.

There are plenty of grievances to air in the wake of Baltimore’s 26-14 victory Sunday night at Heinz Field.

Third-down offense

This is where the game was lost for the Steelers. Their third-down offense was an abomination.

The unit was 2 of 12 on third-down attempts. Most of that was due to horrid execution. There were misfired passes, a lack of open receivers and some blocks missed here and there.

Popcorn, as coach Mike Tomlin will probably say Tuesday.

Some of the play calls were atrocious, too.

• On the second possession of the game, on third-and-18, there was a short pass underneath to James Conner. It merely seemed to be an effort to get a few yards back before a punt. Already trailing 14-0, the Steelers appeared to concede that drive in a game where every possession was going to be necessary to come back.

• On third-and-3 from the Baltimore 20 after an Alex Collins fumble, Ben Roethlisberger lofted up a deep shot down the sideline to Antonio Brown right off the snap.

Why try that there? Even if Brown had single coverage, don’t you want Roethlisberger surveying the field with multiple options in the red zone on a possession-down like that instead of tossing up a 50-50 ball to Brown against a taller defender in Marlon Humphrey?

• On the first drive after halftime, the Steelers went three-and-out following a short pass to the left of the formation to Ryan Switzer. It lost 5 yards, and the team had to punt.

Third-down defense

Meanwhile, the Steelers defense “held” the Ravens to 8 of 17 on third downs. That looks decent on paper. But keep in mind, that includes two failed conversions where Baltimore was essentially winding down the clock at the end of each half. Plus, there was a lame “What the heck? If it’s there, it’s there” throw through the goal post from Joe Flacco on third-and-7 before Justin Tucker’s game-sealing field goal to make it 26-14.

”They converted third downs. They possessed the ball. We didn’t get off the field,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “That’s not a good recipe for success.

”It’s unfortunate. It sucks. I’m (ticked) off we didn’t get the job done.”

Yeah, that pretty much says it all.

Rotten starts

The Steelers have been dreadful when it comes to starting quickly at Heinz Field of late. Check out these numbers in the last three games at Heinz Field — the Jacksonville divisional-round playoff game and the two regular-season losses in 2018.

:::More in the link above:::

Ryan Switzer increasingly part of the Steelers’ offense

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ leading pass-catcher Sunday wasn’t All Pro Antonio Brown, nor was it emerging JuJu Smith-Schuster. In fact, it wasn’t any wide receiver or tight end – or even a starter.

It was Ryan Switzer.

Acquired the final week of the preseason from Oakland in a swap of late-round draft picks, Switzer caught all seven of the balls Ben Roethlisberger threw his way in the 26-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Including a second-half rush, Switzer had eight touches among the 21 offensive snaps he played.

Counting special teams (Switzer is the Steelers’ punt and kick returner) no skill player had more touches for the Steelers than Switzer. Perhaps even more notable than Switzer’s overall usage is that the Steelers often lined him up in the backfield in lieu of starting running back James Conner.

“I am just trying to continue to make a name for myself,” Switzer said, “continue to learn my role in this offense and continue to learn Ben’s trust and coaching staff’s trust.”

For a team that rarely took Le’Veon Bell off the field in recent years past, Conner sat out 13 of the Steelers’ 73 offensive snaps. Neither other running back on the team (Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels) played on offense Sunday.

Coach Mike Tomlin said the decision to use Switzer instead of Conner was “just personnel packages that we worked within.

“He’s a valuable component of our offense and has been a nice contributor.”

Le’Veon Bell’s absence finally catching up to Steelers

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

No matter how much the Pittsburgh Steelers have tried to separate themselves from Le’Veon Bell, his absence was deeply felt Sunday night.

The Steelers needed an equalizer to settle down the offense when things went awry in the second half of their 26-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. What they got was a near 5-1 ratio of pass to run in their most physical rivalry.

The Steelers always knew they would miss Bell, who’s still sitting out with an unsigned franchise tag as the team explores trading him. Otherwise, teammates wouldn’t have responded so fiercely to his absence in Week 1. They knew he changed the dynamic.

As a counter, players and coaches sold a bold new attack behind James Conner, who runs hard and is a better pass-catcher than advertised.

Still, the transition from All-Pro to first-year starter manifested in Conner’s 19 yards on nine carries Sunday. The Steelers were outmatched regardless of the running back in a Week 2 loss to Kansas City, but this week felt different as Baltimore ran 30 times for 96 yards.

Several Steelers pointed to the Ravens’ quick 14-0 lead as a reason to abandon the run.

”The run game, as long as we’re efficient, we’re getting yards here or there,” guard Ramon Foster said. “You get behind the chains a little bit and you have to throw it. That’s not an issue to be frantic about. We’re a team that always finds a way.”

Foster is saying the right things, but getting “yards here or there” doesn’t sound like the tone-setting offense the Steelers’ line wants to be.

Steelers 'Digit Dynasty': Who wore the number best? (Part One)

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 7:47pm

BTSC recaps the Steelers Week 4 loss to Baltimore and opens the phones to you, the listener, to join in.

Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC for the day after extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”.

With spirits needing to be lifted, members of Steeler Nation are distraught over the occurrences in the 26-14 loss to a division rival. With a day to digest it, SH will break down all of the highs, and lows, from the game.

Check out a rundown of the show:

- Reactions

- Calls

- Grades: Valedictorian, Honor Roll and Detention

- Looking ahead

- and MUCH MORE!

You can listen to the show live by logging onto our BlogTalkRadio page at 9:30 p.m. EST but WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! What did you think about the game, the upcoming regular season or whatever you want to talk about Steelers related. Simply dial (347) 850-8581 anytime during the show to make your voice heard!

Report: Le’Veon Bell expected to report during the Steelers’ Week 7 bye

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 6:07pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back is reportedly planning on returning to the Steel City during the team’s bye in Week 7.

The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be missing Le’Veon Bell more than they might ever want to admit, but there is still a chance they could see him return sooner than many predicted this season, if a report from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN proves to be accurate.

Le'Veon Bell expects to report to the Steelers during the Week 7 bye, a source told @ESPN. Bell definitely plans to play football for the Steelers this season.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 1, 2018

Choosing to return during the bye week would be a smart move for Bell in terms of maximizing his income without exposing himself to further risk of injury. Signing his franchise tag before the deadline for reporting in Week 7 would make him eligible for an extra week’s salary without having to play in a game. That being said, an additional week of preparation before seeing his first game action of the year would also make sense for a player who was looking less than game ready when pictured jet skiing in Miami.

With no corroboration from Bell or his agent at the time of writing to suggest this report is any more accurate than any of the other offseason scoops about his plans for 2018, fans can only hope this is not another false dawn.

Returning during the bye week would leave the Steelers facing the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals without their star running back, but would give them a chance to put Bell back on the field against the Cleveland Browns in Week 8. It is also worth noting that the deadline for trading Bell is October 30, and should he sign his franchise tag in Week 7, Pittsburgh would still have at least 10 days to finalize a trade.

AFC North Roundup: Steelers drowning early in the division race

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 2:25pm

Taking a look around the AFC North heading into Week 5.

With Week 4 of the NFL schedule officially in the books, at least for the AFC North, it’s time to take a look back at those teams who call the AFC North home to see how they fared, and what the standings look like after this week’s action.

The first goal for every team in the NFL is to win its division. Doing so guarantees both a playoff spot and a home playoff game, so even these early-season games are important when it comes to the divisional rankings.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC North to check on the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Week 4 Results

Cincinnati Bengals - 37
Atlanta Falcons - 36

This game had over 50 points scored in the first half, and if you like high scoring games this was certainly your cup of tea. When it looked like the Falcons would hold serve at home, they forgot to guard AJ Green. How does that happen, you ask? Great question. Bengals look like a different team compared to last year, but the loss of Tyler Eiffert to a gruesome ankle injury might hurt more than they know.

Oakland Raiders - 45
Cleveland Browns - 42

I can’t believe I am typing this, but the Browns got hosed on more than one occasion while visiting the Black Hole in Oakland. What I took away from this game is Baker Mayfield has the look of an NFL quarterback, Martavis Bryant still has horrible hands and how in the world does the NFL allow a team to still play on a baseball field?!

Baltimore Ravens - 26
Pittsburgh Steelers - 14

The Steelers stunk up the join on both sides of the ball. I feel like I’ve said this before...

Week 5 Schedules:

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns - Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers - Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

AFC North Standings

Baltimore Ravens - 3-1
Cincinnati Bengals - 3-1
Cleveland Browns - 1-2-1
Pittsburgh Steelers - 1-2-1

Let us know what you think about the divisions after Week 2 in the comment section below. Do you see this being a powerhouse division? Which teams are contenders and which ones are nothing more than pretenders?

Ben Roethlisberger following Steelers’ loss: “I’m not on the same page with anyone”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 12:55pm

Frustrations continue to rise as the Steelres drop their second straight home game to AFC North foe, the Baltimore Ravens,

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in quite a rut after the first quarter of the season has come and gone. Sitting on a 1-2-1 record, there is a lot going wrong with the black-and-gold.

One of the aspects of the team which wasn’t so great in Sunday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger finished the outing with 274 yards on 27-of-47 passing with one touchdown and an interception; however, only 50 of those yards came in the second half.

Roethlisberger has been in the league a long time, and he knows when to own a poor performance. After the 26-14 loss, he did just that.

“I’m not on the same page with anybody right now,” Roethlisberger told a scrum of reporters, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, when asked whether he’s on the same page with star receiver Antonio Brown.

“I’m not playing well enough,” he added. “I need to play better. Today was just a bad day at the office. I promise I’ll be back to play better.”

If this sounds eerily familiar, it is worth noting Roethlisberger had a similar response to a Week 5 shellacking by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017, a game where he threw 5 interceptions.

The Steelers bounced back last season, en route to a 13-3 regular season record, but the act of getting back on track in 2018 seems like a much taller task than in previous seasons.

Le’Veon Bell being absent doesn’t help, on multiple fronts, but the uncanny connection Roethlisberger shares with Antonio Brown just seems off. When Brown was asked what might be the problem between the tandem, he answer was vague.

“We gotta make it happen,” Brown said.

Needless to say, this offensive performance was bad, but the offense was just a piece of the overall problem. The players seemed ill prepared for the contest, the defense failed to get off the field and these issues are just the tip of the iceberg with the Steelers moving forward.

With that said, Roethlisberger took ownership of the loss, and took the brunt of the blame heading into a Week 5 contest at Heinz Field vs. the Atlanta Falcons.

“I let the guys down,” Roethlisberger added, but is this all just lip service?

1 Winner and a myriad of Losers after the 26-14 loss to the Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 11:15am

After a game, we take note of certain players who performed well and others who didn’t. This is where the Winners and Losers column comes in.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens took part in a prime time affair at Heinz Field on Sunday night, and the Steelers presented their loyal fan base with another dud for the second loss at home for the regular season. The 26-14 loss was as inconsistent as ever, and there were some good, and bad, performances worthy of recognition.

During the game, some perform well, while others fall short of the standard. This is where the Winners and Losers column comes in. After the game, when the dust settles, we decipher who falls into which category.

As always, feel free to comment on the list in the comment section below. Be part of the conversation!


Chris Boswell
Stat Line: 2/2 FGs

Chris Boswell at least got on the right track on Sunday night by making his two field goal attempts. His kicks were not of ridiculous length, but progress is progress.


Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown Connection
Stat Line: 5 receptions on 11 targets, 62 yards, 1 TD

It has been a long time since we have seen the Roethlisberger-Brown connection look this out of wack. We can all agree it was a bad game for Roethlisberger, but the tandem hasn’t been in cohesion since the start of the season. Yes, Brown missed all of the preseason due to a quadriceps injury, but after a quarter of the season the production needs to increase.

3rd down Offense
Stat Line: Steelers were 2-for-12

Without looking up the minutia, the Steelers’ third down woes came in a variety of ways, but most of the failures seemed to come on manageable down and distances. Under Todd Haley, fans were used to seeing the team go deep on 3rd and 1, but the trend has continued under Randy Fichtner — except the team is converting even less than before. The play calling, and sequences, are mind numbing. The Steelers losing the battle on third down is a direct cause to a lot of their frustrations as a team.

3rd down Defense
Stat Line: Ravens were 8-for-17

The Steelers’ offense couldn’t convert a third down, and the defense couldn’t stop the Ravens on third down. On 17 conversions, the Ravens converted nearly half of them. You can talk personnel, injuries or coaching — but it just isn’t good enough. Flacco was sacked just twice, and was rarely under duress at any point during the game. The result to this inability to get off the field on third downs is a tired, and sloppy, defense.

Rushing Offense
Stat Line: 11 rushes, 19 yards, 1.7 yards per carry

I can’t blame this stat line on the offensive line, but more on game planning. I know you were down 14-0 heading into the 2nd quarter, but after tying the game up 14-14 at halftime, the entire game plan moved away from the ground game. Becoming one dimensional plays right into the defense’s hands, especially one like the Ravens defense.

Opening Half Scripts
Stat Line: No first downs in opening series of games this season

When the Steelers possessed the football for the first time in their first four games, they have failed to get a first down. Not a touchdown — a first down. 4 games, 4 three-and-outs to start the contest. Not a good look for Randy Fichtner’s new offense, and if Ben Roethlisberger is the one drawing up these scripts, it might be time to bring No. 7 back to earth and take some of the free lancing away from the quarterback.

Terrell Edmunds
Stat Line: 7 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 fumble recovery

Edmunds did recover the fumble caused by Sean Davis which turned the tide in the second quarter, but otherwise didn’t have his best showing as a member of the black-and-gold. Edmunds was burned on more than one occasion, and flattened in the running game on others. The future might be bright for the rookie out of Virginia Tech, but Sunday night’s performance was rather bleak.

Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt
Stat Line: 9 total tackles, 6 solo, 0 QB hits, 0 sacks

Anyone seen Heyward and Tuitt? This tandem, which was supposed to be one of the best in the league, has yet to do anything on the field of any significance. In fact, the entire defensive front as a unit has been MIA the first quarter of the season. If Keith Butler wants to get pressure with just three or four, Heyward and Tuitt have to be dominant, and they haven’t been as of late.

Coaching Staff
Stat Line: This team is in a downward spiral

Here we are again, with the coaching staff on the losers list. It seems as if it is every other week where the play on the field can somehow, someway, be directly linked to poor coaching. Whether this is in the game planning phase, teaching or just overall approach to their craft — the Steelers’ staff needs to be better. Period.

It might be time to start talking about the Steelers moving on from Mike Tomlin

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 9:52am

After the Steelers’ latest loss to the Ravens, Mike Tomlin’s seat should be getting hot

I know Steelers Nation is one of the most reactionary fan bases in the NFL. They call for the firing of coaches after one game and seemingly draw conclusions on the fly which are simply not viable. That’s why, as a writer covering the Steelers, I’ve tried to not overreact to one bad game. Instead, I react to trends and what I see after the game. Careful examination of the games as a whole reveals so much more than off-the-wall, reaction-based comments.

Simply put, during the past few years, you could call me a Mike Tomlin apologist. I’ve been defending him on these very boards for the past two seasons, and even at the beginning of this season. Tomlin has a lot of desirable traits for an NFL head coach. The man won a Super Bowl and, no matter your opinion on whether he won it with Bill Cowher’s players, Tomlin was undoubtedly a great coach during the early portion of his tenure with the Steelers.

However, as Tomlin began to breed his own culture, and make the team strictly his own, certain trends increasingly surfaced. The team would show up undisciplined in numerous games, they would play down to lesser competition, miscommunication would be glaring, and the locker room would resemble a drama-infested campground.

All of this was fine as long as the Steelers won, and win they did until they reached the playoffs, when those very characteristics would come back to haunt them.

Now, after beginning the season with high expectations, the Steelers have faltered to a 1-2-1 record. I have to point out just how similar the start of this season is to that illustrious 2013 season, in which the Steelers started out 0-4 and stormed back to an 8-8 record — narrowly missing out on the postseason.

It’s entirely possible the Steelers storm back and make the playoffs this season. If Ben Roethlisberger is “on,” this team can beat anyone. The issue is a perfect storm composed of Roethlisberger’s inconsistency, ineptitude in drafting, and developing, defensive talent, miscommunications, schematic shortcomings on both sides of the ball, and undisciplined penalties.

At some point, this all comes back to Tomlin. He’s been the constant in all of these pervasive issues for far too long.

I want to make something clear, Mike Tomlin is not a bad coach. He’s a decent coach who’s a fantastic leader of men. He gets his team to play for him when their backs are against the wall — just look at last week against the Buccaneers. In fact, I’m predicting the Steelers to win against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5 simply because they’ll show up in emphatic fashion to crawl their way out of another hole.

There’s no doubt that Tomlin can lead a locker room and be a good players coach.

Yet, I have to ask how much tread remains on those tires? Tomlin looks increasingly like he might be done here in Pittsburgh. The tread on his tires is wearing thin and that happens to the best of them. He is absolutely in the top-half of coaches in the NFL, and he’ll find work quickly if the Steelers decide to let him go. But there comes a time and place when a fresh face is needed around a team. This even happened to the great Chuck Noll. Let’s not forget how Noll missed the playoffs six out of seven times at the end of his tenure, after which the Steelers had instant success with the hiring of Bill Cowher.

You have to question now if it isn’t time to start looking around. The season is off to a dismal start but if things turn around, my tune might change dramatically. But Tomlin and his staff have to rebound.

The problems aren’t limited to the ones I mentioned, but they point specifically to Tomlin. He has little-to-no clock management capabilities, poor in-game adjustments and questionable usage of challenges.

Nevertheless, Tomlin is facing his greatest challenge in the coming weeks with his team. The AFC is weak, and he has a chance to get them back on track with two critical wins heading into the bye week. The second-half schedule is a tough one, but Mike Tomlin teams have accomplished some improbable things in the past down the stretch. The journey to redemption from the slow start must start to hit the ground running in Week 5.

With that said, we cannot strictly blame Tomlin — we must blame his squadron of coaches as well. Keith Butler deserved to be fired after last season, but he certainly won’t be brought back if this defense continues to perform as it has. Joey Porter apparently cannot develop a pass rusher at all, and he too deserves to be fired. Randy Fichtner has come out with a rather disappointing start, but we obviously have to give him more time.

Thus, the question must be asked — is Tomlin the issue? Or is it the coaches he’s surrounded himself with? Tom Bradley, Karl Dunbar, and Darryl Drake must show to be at least competent hires.

So, am I on the fire-Tomlin train yet? Absolutely not, but it’s time for that seat to start getting hot. Tough times may not last forever, but Tomlin has to show his team is considerably improved during the next two weeks.

Steelers Nation is watching Mr. Tomlin — prove us all wrong and show us you’re still the man for the job.

Steelers’ devolution continues at home in 26-14 loss to Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 8:20am

Having reached the quarter point of the 2018 regular season, some judgments can be made about where the Pittsburgh Steelers may be headed.

As the final seconds ticked down on the game clock in a silent and largely emptied Heinz Field on Sunday night, Steelers Nation worldwide received the unhappy message that last Monday’s near collapse during the second half in Tampa hardly had been any fluke, but a precursor of more serious problems in store for the Black-and-gold. After staging another second-quarter rally which knotted the game 14-14 at halftime and raised fans’ hopes for an important victory over their divisional arch-rivals, the much-hyped Steelers’ offense once again went completely dormant for the entire second half — allowing the Baltimore Ravens to snatch a surprisingly easy 26-14 victory.

But if not for a couple of Baltimore errors, this game easily could have been over by halftime. In the first quarter, Joe Flacco overthrew a wide-open Michael Crabtree on a play that should have been a certain TD — which would have made the score 21-0. Then, in the second quarter, with the Ravens knocking on the door for another TD, Alex Collins coughed up the ball at the 2-yard line after a hit by Sean Davis, and the fumble was recovered by Terrell Edmunds. Had the Ravens also converted these scoring opportunities, instead of a tie at halftime, the score would have been 28-14 in Baltimore’s favor. Thus, even during the brief portion of the game when the Steelers appeared to be competitive, that appearance was deceiving.

For as much as the Steelers’ offense challenged the Ravens after returning to the field following halftime, they might just as well have gone home for the evening. During the third quarter, the offense stalled three consecutive times and had to punt the ball back to Baltimore. Then, early in the fourth quarter, the offense stalled yet again, punting the ball back to the Ravens with 10:17 remaining in the game. At that point, Baltimore simply rammed the ball down the defense’s throats, killing nearly seven minutes on the clock and culminating in a Justin Tucker field goal that extended Baltimore’s lead to 23-14.

With time elapsing on the Steelers’ next-to-last possession, Ben Roethlisberger’s late throw across the middle — providing a room-service interception for Anthony Levine Sr. — somehow served as the fitting exclamation point for this defeat which likely will go down as one of the most disappointing in the franchise’s history. After passing for 224 yards in the first half, Roethlisberger finished the game with only 274 yards passing, along with an anemic 5.8-yard average per pass. Furthermore, Flacco out-dueled Ben in quarterback rating to the tune of 109.5 to 72.5. In fact, throughout much of the second half, Ben hardly seemed to be on the same page as his receivers — throwing the ball too high, too low or behind them.

First-quarter report card

After having their hopes raised by halftime — then cruelly shattered as the final quarter wore on — the chorus of boos the Steelers received from their departing home crowd was well-deserved. Viewed as a whole, it’s reasonable to say the Steelers ought to be given a failing grade after Week 4. Their offense only showed up for about one out of four quarters on Sunday night — hardly adequate to win any games in the NFL these days, regardless of opponent. And perhaps surprisingly, this defeat cannot be laid at the feet of the defense, because the Ravens were limited to four field goals during the second half. Had the Steelers’ offense performed anywhere close to the lofty preseason expectations of their fans, the Black-and-gold should have been able to score in the 30s and win the game. But alas, the Steelers’ offense virtually (and inexplicably) disappeared for the entire, final 30 minutes of play.

With four games and the first quarter of the 2018 regular season in the books, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Steelers truly are a team in trouble. Although tight end Vance McDonald continued to show that he’s a valuable weapon (provided he’s able to stay healthy), Roethlisberger seems to be out of sync with most of his receivers. For much of the game, Ben seemed never to quite be sure exactly where his receivers were going on the field or how they’d run their routes. It’s also painfully obvious that Ben hasn’t had enough experience in game situations working with players such as James Washington and Ryan Switzer. These players still haven’t been fully integrated into the offense.

Realistically, though, we cannot expect much from an offense that produces only 19 rushing yards in an entire game, plus a 5.8-yards-per-catch average. And given the tendency of the Steelers’ offense to utterly disappear for substantial portions of games, how can we have any confidence at this point in the Black-and-gold as a playoff or Super Bowl contender?

With Week 4 in the books now, it’s no longer premature to make judgments about where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand in their 2018 quest. Based on what we’ve witnessed so far, the Steelers are a team which, despite having a roster chock full of athletic ability, cannot seem to forge this talent into a cohesive whole. And it seems the longer Pittsburgh remains a perennial playoff contender — but without claiming another championship — the farther away the team slides from that goal.

With one quarter of the season finished, Pittsburgh has only a single victory — against a Buccaneers team that was flattened 48-10 by the Chicago Bears on Sunday. In Weeks 5 and 6, the Steelers will first face an Atlanta Falcons team smarting from its last-minute defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals — followed by a trip to Cincinnati to take on Andy Dalton and Company. If the Steelers’ current devolution continues, and if things don’t markedly improve on both sides of the ball, it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that this team might be sitting at 1-4-1 by the time Week 7 rolls around.

Report Card: Grading Pittsburgh’s Week 4 ‘Wretched Rivalry Renewal’ with the Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 6:50am

BTSC grades the Steelers’ Week-4’s 26-14 loss to the Ravens.

I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. I’m starting to hate this team for the lack of passion, discipline and imagination. I wanted to turn this game off and watch HGTV with my wife instead.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what count the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well.

So let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:


The Steelers scored only one touchdown, a pretty one from Ben to Antonio Brown. But on the two other scoring drives, the play calling was unimaginative and ineffective. Ben who looked like he was on his way to another epic day, collapsed in the second half. He was terrible and looked defeated down the stretch. But so was the running game. 19 yards on the ground is inconceivable. The offense failed.

Overall Offense Grade: F Defense

Got torched early and often. When they finally got it together, the offense couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. The lack of blitzing killed them, but it was done to keep the putrid defensive backs off of an island. Baltimore’s rate of third down conversions was nearly fifty per cent at 8 for 17. Towards the end they were gassed. The offense gave them no breaks, neither did the scheme.

Overall Defense Grade: D Special Teams:

Despite suffering an injury to DHB, the ST unit wasn’t terrible. Some nice tackles, Chris Boswell was kicking well and Jordan Berry wasn’t horrible.

Overall Special Teams Grade: B- Overall Team Grade: D-

Valedictorian: Are you kidding?

Honor Roll: I can’t.

Detention: Ben Roethlisberger, Terrell Edmunds, James Conner, Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, Randy Fichtner, Joe Haden

Steelers open as 4-point favorites over the Falcons in Week 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 5:34am

While the line is not expecting to last, Pittsburgh are currently more than a field goal favorite to win only their second game of the year in Week 5.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have opened as 4-point favorites for their game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5, a line that really only makes sense when you understand it was set long before the Steelers dropped their second game of the season on Sunday night.

Given the way the contest against the Baltimore Ravens ultimately unfolded, it seems highly likely that this spread will shorten as the week goes on. That being said, taking into account the Falcons own disappointing 1-3 start to the year after losing in the dying seconds to the Cincinnati Bengals earlier in the day, it might be hard for backers to see enough value in either team to make the line move that much either way.

As an NFC opponent, the Steelers only face Atlanta once every four years, but they have absolutely dominated the Falcons on the rare occasions they do meet. Owning a 13-2-1 record against Atlanta dating back to 1966, Pittsburgh have won their last two in a row against the Falcons, but have seen three of their last four against them go to overtime. Before registering a tie against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, Atlanta was the last team the Steelers had tied with back in 2002.

Pittsburgh failed to cover the spread once again in Week 4 and are now 1-3 ATS so far this season. With the final total against the Baltimore Ravens ending up at 40, the Steelers are also 1-3 versus the over this season having gone under for the first time this year on Sunday.

Podcast: Breaking down the latest home debacle of the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 4:46am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Post-Game” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the game that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are finally playing games that actually count! With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Post-Game Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers from the game that was!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Injuries
  • Inconsistencies are glaring
  • What does this tell us about the Steelers?
  • Talking what’s ahead
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Android Users: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Steelers see 3 players forced to leave the game early against the Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 11:07pm

After losing Darrius Heyward-Bey in the first half, Nat Berhe and Vince Williams were also forced from the game later in the contest.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have at least three new injury concerns to worry about as they prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5 after Vince Williams, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Nat Berhe were all forced to leave the game early on Sunday night.

#88 Darrius Heyward-Bey has been downgraded to OUT (ankle).

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 1, 2018

Suffering what appeared to be ankle injury during an attempted punt block in the second quarter, Heyward-Bey would officially be ruled out of the game early in the second half. Berhe left the contest game mid-way through the third quarter with a pectoral injury and never returned either.

#31 Nat Berhe is doubtful to return (pectoral).

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 1, 2018

While not officially acknowledged by the team during the game, Williams would be helped from the field in the fourth quarter, not to be seen again. When speaking to reporters after the game, Mike Tomlin suggested he had suffered a hamstring injury and that Berhe and Heyward-Bey were being evaluated. He did, however note a successful outing for David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert, well, at least medically.

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following tonight's game vs. the Ravens.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 1, 2018

As more information becomes available about the extent of these injuries, we will be sure to update this post.

Knee Jerk Reactions for the Steelers’ 26-14 loss to the Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 10:47pm

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers’ uninspired effort at home against a division rival.

As Week Three’s big win was a tale of two halves, I was nervous enough to pick against the Steelers in their rivalry game with the Ravens. It started off ugly again, so at this point I decided to shut my trap and react as the game develops and open the window to all of you. So if you want to know how my emotions fluctuated throughout the evening, keep on reading.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers first time in Tampa in eight years

Quarter 1
  • The Steelers really need to set the tone early with no points on the first drive.
  • Artie Burns needs to and seems to know that this game is crucial to him.
  • Nat Behre looked sad out there in coverage.
  • I’d be using Lamar Jackson a boatload if he was on my team.
  • It looks like they are going to.
  • Wise time out by the Steelers.
  • Run defense is porous early.
  • Confusion again on defense. That’s unacceptable.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images
  • I was angered by that play before it resulted in a turnover. I like passing games that go past the chains.
  • Vance can’t let that stuff happen.
  • This might be one of those nights when living in Maryland sucks for me.
  • T.J. Watt thought right. He was being held.
  • I would like to exclaim that what I’m seeing is unbelievable, but with this crappy defense…I unfortunately believe.
  • If I wasn’t contracted to write this article, I’d go to bed now,
  • Running play on second and 20 when you’re down by 14 early...gotta throw out scripted plays. Are they even trying?
  • Bostic might be better than Vince Williams.
  • Hard to be happy about the stop when Haden got burned like he did there. Lucky with a capital L and a crapload of exclamation points.
  • Play action works.
  • I love JuJu.
  • I betcha Eric Weddle has ticks in his beard.
  • Ben likes Switzer.
  • Glad that quarter is through.
Quarter 2
  • JuJu needs to protect that ball better.
  • Three means nothing to me. Missed opportunity.
  • I’ve been fighting it, but Terrell Edmunds kind of sucks.
  • Sean Davis and Coty Sensabaugh with the big stick. Needed a big play on defense. Nice.
  • Resign Jesse James.
  • Conner can’t really get started.
  • Just Ben being Ben and JuJu being JuJu.
  • Switzer has four grabs. He’s made Justin Hunter irrelevant.
  • AB is clutch.
  • Not trying to be a homer, but not seeing the foul on James.
  • Seriously. Gotta get in on this drive.
  • Ridiculous. End Zone. You gotta get in.
  • I have no confidence on third and eight.
  • Haden, great coverage. Watt, great pass rush on that stop.
  • Vance is a freaking warrior.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
  • That might be the prettiest Ben to AB play that’s ever been.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images
  • I’m echoing Chris Collinsworth, Big Al just came up huge on that TD.
  • I’m really glad that this is a resilient football team. The fans give up early (including me), but they don’t.
  • They really needed a stop there.
  • How did Bud not over run a play? Nice.
  • VinnyVidiVici came up huge there.
  • How is this game tied?
Quarter 3
  • Gotta come out smoking. Need a lead.
  • Switzer is going to break one soon.
  • Berry isn’t overly sour tonight.
  • Giving Flacco a lot of time. Too much.
  • Theres a considerable drop off without Mike Hilton.
  • A lot of you hate Collinsworth. I think he puts on a clinic every time he speaks.
  • Too much small ball. Need to get in the end zone.
  • Another missed opportunity.
  • Berry is bad again.
  • Wow. I thought they made that stop on third down.
  • This is a useless challenge. Like the guts though.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Great coverage by Haden. Edmunds was lost though.
  • Too many third and longs being converted. Gotta rush more than four dudes.
  • Tucker never misses.
  • Told you.
  • Ravens haven’t given up a second half TD all year. That string needs to snap now.
  • Really? AB was open. C’mon Ben.
  • These 12-man penalties are nauseating.
  • Scheming is horrendous.
  • Sutton had a good stop.
Quarter 4
  • Anything less than third and 30 is going to get converted on this defense.
  • I stand corrected. But here comes Tucker.
  • James Conner runs after the catch with heart.
  • The third down conversion rate is pitiful.
  • Defense has to come up big here.
  • Renegade magic needed.
  • Unacceptable. Edmunds can’t tackle.
  • Do they know that they’re allowed to blitz?
  • This defense is a joke.
  • No heart or imagination tonight with this team.
  • Ben was so off. Maybe the offense was a joke tonight too.
  • Too many problems to keep thinking that there’s an easy solution.
  • I’m usually a Steeler apologist. No excuses tonight. None.

... as I replay the game more and more in my head, my perceptions and maybe my prescriptions will alter. But for now, you just got a glimpse of the first thoughts that popped in my mind while I was watching this game. Feel free to get your commentus maximus on in the section below.

Steelers’ inconsistencies glaring in 26-14 loss to Baltimore

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 10:31pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ struggles continue after their home loss to the Ravens on Sunday Night Football.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens had an AFC North score to settle. In what is usually a very even series, the Steelers had won the previous three meetings, but these two teams were vastly different heading into this Week 4 prime time matchup at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh won the coin toss prior to the game, and elected to defer their first possession to the second half. With Baltimore starting the game with the football, it took just under 5 minutes for the Ravens to draw first blood. Joe Flacco hit John Brown for a 33 yard touchdown to give Baltimore an early 7-0 lead.

On the Steelers’ first possession, on third down, Ben Roethlisberger hit Vance McDonald in the flat, and as it looked like he would be stopped for the yard to gain, safety Tony Jefferson stripped the football and recovered the fumble. Three plays later Flacco his running back Alex Collins in the flat to make it 14-0 while the Steelers had yet to even get a first down.

In their third offensive possession, Pittsburgh finally tallied their first first down of the game, and after a big pass and catch to JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers found themselves in Baltimore territory for the first time. On third and ten, a pass to Smith-Schuster in the end zone was broken up, and Pittsburgh was forced to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal, making the score 14-3.

The Steelers’ defense continued to resemble Swiss cheese more than a steel curtain, and on the Ravens’ first play on their next drive Flacco hit Brown for a 71-yard completion to put the Ravens deep in Pittsburgh territory. However, on the next play from scrimmage, Alex Collins fumbled at the goalline, and it was recovered by Terrell Edmunds.

Sean Davis standing strong.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 1, 2018

The next drive started at the one-yard line, and it took up over 6 minutes of game time, but when threatening the put up their first touchdown of the game, they were held to another Boswell field goal making the score 14-6 with 6:26 left in the first half.

Pittsburgh’s defense forced a three-and-out, giving the team’s offense the ball with 5 minutes remaining in the half. What happened next is a 76-yard drive, all passes, which ended in a beautiful strike from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown for the score.

That @AB84 guy is very, very good.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 1, 2018

Mike Tomlin elected to go for the two-point conversion to tie the game, and the pass to James Conner in the flat was good, tying the game at 14-14.

The 14-14 tie held through halftime, and the Steelers opened the second half with their seemingly patented three and out to start a half. But both offenses failed to move the football throughout the early portions of the third quarter.

Leave it to Justin Tucker to break the tie, and he hit a 47 yard field goal with 4:00 left in the third quarter to give the Ravens a slight 17-14 advantage.

The Steelers’ offense ineptitude continued throughout the third quarter, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter when Tucker hit another field goal, this from 49 yards, to extend the Baltimore lead 20-14.

The Justin Tucker show continued in the fourth quarter, and another Jordan Berry punt, this time down to the 6-yard line, Baltimore rattled off a nifty, time-consuming, drive ending in a Tucker chip shot to make the score 23-14 in the waning minutes of the quarter.

In desperate need of a drive, not only did the Pittsburgh offense fail to muster a first down, but on 3rd and 10 Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception which essentially iced the game away.

The turnover resulted in yet another Tucker field goal, to make the score 26-14. This score would stand as the final score of the Week 4 contest.

The loss moves the Steelers’ record to 1-2-1, and the Ravens advance their record to 3-1 — on top of beating Pittsburgh for the first time in the last three tries. In Week 5 the Steelers will remain at home, where they haven’t won a game yet this season, to host the Atlanta Falcons for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Steelers vs. Ravens, Week 4: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 9:46pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

The 14-14 tie held through halftime, and the Steelers opened the second half with their seemingly patented three and out to start a half. But both offenses failed to move the football throughout the early portions of the third quarter.

Leave it to Justin Tucker to break the tie, and he hit a 47 yard field goal with 4:00 left in the third quarter to give the Ravens a slight 17-14 advantage.

With the Steelers doing little to nothing on offense, the Ravens have the football and are driving as the third quarter comes to an end.

Steelers vs. Ravens: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 8:56pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 regular season is here with the Steelers and Ravens locking horns in Week 4. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the first game of the 2018 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!



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