Well, I hate to say I told you so…
But I did tell you so.
In the least surprising “major upset” ever, the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers left Heinz Field with their first victory of the season, scoring a last second go-ahead touchdown to upend the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24. While I’m not shocked the Steelers lost, I am embarrassed by exactly how they lost. I have never seen a more sloppy and undisciplined Steeler team. They’ve become a Black and Gold disgrace.
And it all starts with Mike Tomlin.
After the game, Tomlin took responsibility for the team’s lack of discipline which led to them getting flagged for SIX (?!?!?!) separate 15 yard personal foul penalties. I have been watching football for roughly thirty years and can’t recall any team – not the lawless Raiders, not the inept Browns – getting nabbed for SIX PERSONAL FOULS. While it’s nice that our clueless head coach finally realizes this is a problem, after the way the team had been highly penalized the first few weeks of the season, couldn’t he have maybe worked on this issue before it reached the point of absurdity?
Of course, that’s not the Steeler Way. The Steeler Way – or perhaps it’s better to call it the Tomlin Way – is to let obvious problems fester and grow until they become such an ugly stain on our games that Coach T has no other choice but address them. It happened last year when he stubbornly started Isaac “One YPC” Redman game after game despite him contributing absolutely nothing. Same with LaMarr Woodley. This season, the team has been highly penalized by stupid, self-inflicted mistakes yet nothing has been said of it. Until now that it has cost them a game.
Speaking of problems they refuse to address, punter Brad Wing. Tampa’s game winning drive was all but handed them on a silver platter when Wing uncorked a 30 yard punt to give them the ball on our side of the field. A THIRTY YARD PUNT!?!?! I have an arthritic hip and I could kick the ball farther than thirty frickin’ yards. Ben Roethlisberger moves like a fifty year old man and he could kick the ball farther than thirty yards. Wing looked terrible in the preseason yet the Steelers just handed him the job and now it’s bitten them on the ass. What a way to run a franchise.
While the Aussie Shanker will undoubtedly take a lot of blame for the loss, make no mistake this was a total team meltdown. Two plays later, WR Louis Murphy – who Tampa signed off the street earlier in the week – beat Brice McClain for a 41 yard gain. HOW THE HELL DOES THAT HAPPEN? Doesn’t defensive genius Dick LeBeau have some sort of plan to “prevent” huge freakin’ gains late in games?
In fact, that would be a good name for it. A prevent defense.
I don’t blame Brice McClain for being inept. He was terrible yesterday but that’s not his fault. It’s Tomlin and Kevin “Draft a corner? We don’t need no stinkin’ corner.” Colbert’s for putting him in that position. Again, the secondary was an issue last year. We knew it’d be an issue this year. Does the team go out and sign a free agent or draft somebody in the first round? Nope, they trot out the same guys who couldn’t stop a runny nose last season and hope for the best.
Oh wait, they did do something, they gave Cortez Allen like $15 million to absolutely suck. Forget the Woodley contract, this may be the worst signing in Steeler history. Okay, Allen did come down with an interception yesterday – on a play where the Bucs receiver pulled up lame and he was given a free run at the ball – but an interception nonetheless. But at the end of the day, they let Mike Glennon – MIKE F’N GLENNON – throw for 300 yards on them. At least McClain is cheap and terrible, as opposed to Allen or Mike Mitchell, who are expensive on top of being lousy.
While the lion’s share of the blame will go on the defense – I can already hear windbag Mark Madden huffing endlessly about idiots like William Gay thumping their chest after one pass break-up despite being torched all afternoon – the offense shouldn’t be given a pass. They left play after play after play on the field. Antonio Brown, who is quickly turning into a posing self-smitten idiot, let a flea flicker pass fall between his arms that would’ve been a TD that iced the game. It’s great that you caught two TDs and went for 130 yards but if you’re going to constantly celebrate how great you are, AB, at least make ALL the plays. Big Ben also missed on at least three wide open throws which would’ve gone for big plays.
I can almost give Ben a break, though, because he took a beating yesterday. The pitiful offensive line allowed five sacks, the first of which led to a fumble that gave Tampa the game’s first TD. Ben took several hard shots and when he wasn’t sacked, he was still being hampered by balls being tipped or whacking his hand on a teammate’s helmet on his follow-through. Still, if Ben is out there, he is accountable to play up to his standards. Markus Wheaton made a couple really nice catches and Heath Miller was a dump-off machine (10 catches for 85 yards) while Le’Veon Bell somehow managed to run for 63 yards despite very little in the way of blocking but at the end of the day you’re left thinking the offense had so many chances to score more points that they just let slip through their fingers.
Like this season could quickly slip through the Steelers fingers if they don’t get their act together. The current slate of games beginning with Tampa and running through Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Houston was supposed to be the season’s easiest. They’re already 0-1 and while Jacksonville only improved marginally with Blake Bortles at QB, the other two are hardly gimmes. Of course, when you’re penalized 13 times for 125 yards (!!!!!!!!!!), starting a corner who doesn’t belong in the league, and have an O-line that seems out to get your QB killed, you aren’t going to beat anybody. I would like to think this debacle serves as a wake-up call but the Steelers have shown time after time that no problem is too great to be utterly ignored.
The only question is how much longer we’ll have to suffer through these fools.