Tim Benz: Airing of grievances is overflowing after Steelers’ 3rd loss | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz: Airing of grievances is overflowing after Steelers’ 3rd loss

Tim Benz
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, center, during the first half of an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Steelers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019.

The longer the Pittsburgh Steelers’ losing streak continues, the easier it is to come up with our weekly “Airing of Grievances.”

Boy, it really has become weekly, hasn’t it? We are long overdue for a “Feats of Strength” post.

Maybe that will happen next Tuesday after a Monday night game versus the equally bad 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals.

Maybe. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Until then, join me in venting — once again — after the Steelers’ third loss in three tries this season.

This time, a 24-20 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

Failure to capitalize on turnovers

You are going to read four more entries after this grievance. My feelings won’t be hurt if you stop after this one. Because, honestly, this is the only statistic that matters in this game.

The Steelers forced five turnovers and only got six points on two field goals.

That’s it. We’re done here.

That is pathetic, dreadful, ghastly football.

Of course, San Francisco turned two Steelers turnovers into two toucdowns.

The Steelers ran 20 plays after the five turnovers. The drives resulted in two field goals, two punts and a fumble of their own by James Conner.

It’s almost as if the 49ers were trying to force the Steelers to win the game, and the Steelers just wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Third down conversions

The Steelers continue to be abysmal on third-down conversion attempts.

They were 3-for-12 in that department in San Francisco. The 49ers weren’t fantastic, but better. They went 6-for-11.

The Steelers are a piddly 9-for-35 on the season.

To make matters worse, they are only 1-for-4 on fourth downs.

Where was Washington?

James Washington is supposed to have some sort of cosmic, college chemistry from his Oklahoma State days with quarterback Mason Rudolph.

I haven’t seen evidence of that yet.

In six quarters of football, Washington has just three catches for 25 yards from his fellow Cowboy.

Rudolph quizzically said this week that sometimes he intentionally goes elsewhere with the ball to work on his chemistry with wide receivers other than Washington because he knows “what he has in No. 13.”

Well, I’m not so sure the Steelers know. It seems as if Diontae Johnson has quickly passed Washington on the pecking order of Steelers receivers.

I think it would behoove Rudolph to work that familiar chemistry in games and save the orchestrated team-building with the other wide receivers for just practice.

But, frankly, that chemistry may not even be there.

Yeah, but…

I know the Steelers defense got off to a great start. It gathered four turnovers and held the 49ers to just three first half points.

But the drive the defense allowed after Rudolph’s 76-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster was sinful.

The kid quarterback finally does something right. You take back the lead. You have momentum. And the defense gets shoved down the field.

San Francisco marched 75 yards on 10 plays in under five minutes. The 49ers only had to convert one third down along the way.

Luckily, Rudolph responded by hitting Diontae Johnson for a 39-yard touchdown on the next offensive series.

But, c’mon. If ever there was a time to be stout, that was it.

Bashing Barron

Mark Barron can’t be the worst Steelers free agent signing of the year.

Donte Moncrief appears to have that award locked up already. But Barron has been a bust so far.

Aside from his fumble recovery in Week 2 against the Seahawks, the former Los Angeles Rams acquisition has looked more like John Bostic 2.0 than the alleged upgrade at linebacker he was supposed to be.

Barron had just one tackle on the day.

His afternoon was summarized on the last 49ers scoring drive in the fourth quarter. George Kittle shook Barron and Devin Bush out of their shoes on the same reception.

Then — after the Steelers appeared to stop San Francisco on a third down which would’ve forced a field goal to potentially tie the game at 23-23 — Barron got busted for an egregious holding call on George Kittle.

“I don’t know what it looked like to everybody else, but know what happened to me,” Barron said. “I feel like he ran right into me. I just absorbed him. I just didn’t get my hands off of him. And it was called.”

I disagree. I thought it was so obvious, the officials had to call it.

With Vince Williams hurt, Barron is going to have to continue playing.

Whether the Steelers want that or not.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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