Tim Benz: Steelers win, but some grievances to air: Injuries, wide receivers’ play, stopping tight ends
Given that the Steelers have only managed to win twice this year, I wanted to allow a little time before our weekly “Airing of Grievances.”
After all, we’ve got to pick our spots to bask in the warm afterglow of victory, don’t we?
That said, the Steelers’ second win of the season was far from perfect. And some of the complaints emerging from the 24-17 win in Los Angeles over the Chargers were beyond the team’s control.
Others? Eh, they can do better.
Woof! Yeah. This falls in the “out of their control” category.
Joe Haden (groin), T.J. Watt (oblique), Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) and James Conner (quad) all got hurt during this game.
Tuitt is reportedly done for the year. That’s a devastating loss for the defense. Devin Bush rolled an ankle, too. But at least he was able to play through it.
Keep in mind, the Steelers also played without the likes of Mark Barron, Roosevelt Nix, Jaylen Samuels, James Washington and Steven Nelson.
Oh yeah, and their top two quarterbacks.
Just thank your Black-and-Gold lucky stars that the bye is coming up this week. They even have an extra day before the Monday night game. And the opponent is the most dreadful team in football. Maybe the Steelers can get away with limited snaps for one or two of these banged up guys — or even resting them entirely — and still beat the woeful Miami Dolphins (0-5).
The NFL has some bad teams this year. But the Dolphins are the worst by far.
Who do you want to blame here?
The game plan for being too conservative with third-stringer Devlin “Duck” Hodges at quarterback?
The receivers themselves for not getting open?
The quarterback for not getting them the ball?
I say there is truth to each complaint. The reality is, the wide receivers collectively totaled only 30 yards on five catches for the whole game. That may work against Miami. And against the New York Jets. And maybe — for a second time — against the Cincinnati Bengals.
But they need better production moving forward from those weapons if they are to somehow win six or seven more games. Because that’s going to be the bare minimum it’ll take to qualify for the playoffs.
Up 24-0, I understand the Steelers were swapping out time for yardage and points. And, in the end, it worked.
But they didn’t have to make it that easy for the Chargers. Philip Rivers and company totaled 17 fourth-quarter points.
The Steelers blew an 18-point lead at Heinz Field versus L.A. a year ago. They flirted with blowing a 24-point lead there this year.
If it weren’t for Cam Sutton’s excellent play on that onside kick and Jordan Berry’s punt to the one-yard line, the Steelers could’ve been in trouble.
The Steelers have been outscored 43-26 in the fourth quarter (and overtime) of games this year.
The tight end… again
Will Dissly from the Seattle Seahawks with two touchdowns. Nine catches for 79 yards by Baltimore Ravens tight ends. The New England Patriots’ Josh Gordon playing a quasi-“Gronk role” in Week 1.
On Sunday, it was Hunter Henry with eight catches, 100 yards and two scores.
This was probably by design. At least a little bit. Better that Henry gets fantasy points than Keenan Allen ruining the game again like he did last year.
But the Steelers still need to do better against tight ends.
Thanks a lot Cincy!
You couldn’t score one more lousy touchdown and at least give yourselves a chance in overtime against the Ravens?
I guess not. The Ravens ended up holding off the Bengals 23-17 Sunday. So they improve to 4-2 while Cincinnati falls to 0-6.
The Steelers need every bit of help they can get. And, eventually, if they are going to catch the Ravens atop the division, three things need to happen.
First, the Steelers need to somehow get scalding hot with one of their backup quarterbacks and make up ground.
Second, the Steelers will probably have to beat the Ravens in Baltimore on Dec. 29 since the Ravens have already won here.
Third, Baltimore is going to need a bad loss. That could’ve been it.