Steelers unable to get ground game rolling again
An agitated Ben Roethlisberger managed a wry, sarcastic smile as he explained why the floundering Steelers abandoned the ground game after spotting the Oakland Raiders 14 points in the first quarter of a 21-18 defeat Sunday at O.co Coliseum.
But that smile on Roethlisberger's face was erased by the sobering reality that the 2-5 Steelers started sluggishly — again.
Even worse, they looked ill-prepared as Jeannette native Terrelle Pryor split the middle of a stunned defense for a 93-yard touchdown on the first snap from scrimmage. It was a record-setting gallop that whipped the faithful into a ravenous frenzy.
“We can't put ourselves behind the eight ball in giving a play like that early,” said linebacker LaMarr Woodley, whose blown assignment swung the gate open for Pryor. “We practiced on that all week, but we gave it up on the first play.”
Also, Pryor forced offensive coordinator Todd Haley to audible under distress. Despite running back Le'Veon Bell rushing for a career-high 93 yards in a 19-16 win over Baltimore, Haley opted to swim or sink with Roethlisberger.
With three offensive linemen scratched from the game with injuries, Bell spent the rest of the afternoon on the sidelines or as the last wave of defense against an Oakland pass rush that smothered Roethlisberger five times.
The Steelers attempted 45 pass and 19 running plays against the Raiders. Bell carried five times in the first half, eight in the second.
Roethlisberger said the game plan was designed to feature Bell in a variety of ways. Bell tried picking his way through Oakland's defense with runs between the tackles. He ran out of the wildcat formation, but averaged only 1 yard on 3 attempts.
Then, when the Raiders went up 14-0 on Darren McFadden's 7-yard touchdown run midway through the opening quarter, the Steelers turned their backs on the running game, but it was two Roethlisberger interceptions — and two missed field goals by Shaun Suisham — that may have doomed their season.
“We've got to find a way to be better,” wide receiver Antonio Brown said. “It's tough when you're fighting from the back.”
It was especially tough on the Steelers' rookie running back. Bell figured the offense had gathered some momentum during a two-game winning streak. So he appeared particularly distraught over his uninspired numbers: 13 carries, 24 yards, 1.8-yard average.
“Everything they did we saw on film,” Bell said. “They didn't sell out defensively. We got out-executed, that's all. I don't feel anyone got their heads down after Pryor's touchdown. But that play opened our eyes a little bit. Basically, we spotted them a touchdown.
“It certainly changed what we wanted to do a little bit. It took away the running game. They showed us a lot of different things.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Real estate union: Howard Hanna buys Langholz Wilson Ellis
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Connellsville wrestling tunes up for duals by routing TJ
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- 5 plead guilty to charges of luring, beating man at Harrison gas station
- Position move fits Pitt sophomore Artis
- Pitt’s acting athletic director is deft facilitator
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Convocation center booze battle rages on for California and Cal U
- Teachers at two Armstrong schools go casual for a cause
- ExOne Co. moves solidify authority under CEO