Tim Benz: An angry airing of grievances after Steelers’ loss to Seahawks
History wasn’t on the Steelers’ side heading into their season opener in Foxborough in Week 1.
And history repeated itself with a 33-3 loss to the New England Patriots.
History was on the Steelers’ side in their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.
• The Steelers were 6-0 against the NFC West at Heinz Field under head coach Mike Tomlin.
• The Seahawks had lost their only two games in that building by a combined 45-0.
• The Steelers were 15-3 in home openers at Heinz Field.
• The organization’s 29-6-1 record at home against NFC opponents since opening Heinz Field in 2001 is the best in the AFC.
That all feels like ancient history now after the Seahawks beat the Steelers, 28-26, on Sunday on the North Shore.
So let’s get to our traditional “airing of the grievances” after a second straight Steelers defeat to open the 2019 season.
And I suppose we can start with history being a lousy indicator of consistent results.
Not only are the Steelers bad right now, but they also are banged up.
Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow injury is, obviously, the biggest problem. If significant, it’s a season crusher for the team.
— Roto Street Journal (@RotoStJournal) September 15, 2019
“He’s come a long way since last year,” tight end Vance McDonald said of backup quarterback Mason Rudolph. “If he’s our guy, then he’s our guy. And we have to move forward with him.”
Rudolph was 12 for 19 for 112 yards, two touchdowns and an interception after replacing Roethlisberger after halftime.
More on that pick in a moment. *Cough, cough — Donte Moncrief — cough, cough.*
Beyond Roethlisberger’s elbow problem, Vince Williams missed most of the game after suffering an early hamstring pull. Sean Davis hurt his shoulder after pushing through an ankle injury during the week. James Conner limped off the field early in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Also, Anthony Chickillo was wearing a walking boot on the way out of the stadium. He says a heel injury suffered during last week’s game is giving him problems. Tomlin described it as plantar fasciitis.
Insert Joe Maddon references here.
Down on Donte
Moncrief makes the list for a second week in a row.
This may be a trend.
After four drops last week in New England, Moncrief had another ball go off his hands against the Seahawks.
This time from Rudolph. This time it went for an interception by Bradley McDougald.
Just like the Seahawks drew it up pic.twitter.com/v6s49Bp7nm
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 15, 2019
That pick resulted in a touchdown for the Seahawks.
I made a Derick Brassard comparison last week. This is starting to feel more like Derek Bell or Lonnie Chisenhall.
Failing with the flags
The Steelers committed two awful penalties in the first half.
Sean Davis’ clip on Mark Barron’s fumble return negated a touchdown. It wasn’t much of a penalty. But it wasn’t a necessary block. Barron was going to score regardless.
Luckily for the Steelers, the ensuing possession resulted in a touchdown anyway.
Then there was nose tackle Daniel McCullers — whose presence on the roster is still a mystery to me — getting a personal foul on a field goal by the Seahawks. He told me it was because of contacting the long snapper.
That allowed for the Seahawks to come back on the field and extend their drive. Will Dissly cashed in the possession with a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
Both calls were ticky-tack. But those are the calls NFL officials love to make. The Steelers have to avoid giving them the chance to do so.
Errors on Edmunds
Safety Terrell Edmunds had a brutal fourth-quarter sequence.
Last year’s first-round draft choice was hit with a pass-interference penalty — upon a challenge — when an incompletion on a second-and-20 bomb for Tyler Lockett fell incomplete.
Three snaps later, on a third-and-3, Seattle receiver DK Metcalf beat Edmunds for a touchdown.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 15, 2019
I didn’t have a problem with Edmunds being called for that penalty. He hooked Lockett around the waist. I do, however, have a problem with the fact that the coaches’ challenge flag had to be used.
I also have an issue with the fact that T.J. Watt, who was held on the play as well, didn’t have the benefit of a review.
The left side of the Steelers defensive front did a nice job pushing the pocket and getting after Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Stephon Tuitt and Watt combined for 3.5 sacks.
But that side of the defense had trouble containing the rushing attack of the Seahawks to the offense’s right side.
Rashaad Penny bounced a 37-yard touchdown run to the right side, after starting toward the middle of the line.
— SeahawksUnited (@SeahawksUnited_) September 15, 2019
“It was a routine play I should’ve made,” linebacker Chickillo said. “I have no excuse. I missed the tackle. We know they are a running football team. We just didn’t get it done today. It’s frustrating for everybody. I’ve got to play better.”
Watt grabbed his own facemask in anger after Chris Carson ran past his contain for 21 yards on Seattle’s second drive.
According to the official play-by-play sheet, the Seahawks offense ran to its right side nine times for a total of 89 yards. That’s an average of 9.8 yards per attempt. Those totals feature plays of 37, 21 and 16 yards.
“We’re going to look at film to determine what happened,” Tuitt said. “They made a couple good plays. And those plays benefited them.”
Meanwhile, the Steelers didn’t make enough. That appears to be a recurring theme early in 2019.
And oh by the way …
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi never should’ve tried that field goal in the fourth quarter of the Penn State game.
Sorry. Since we are airing grievances, I had to get that one out there.