Have you ever heard of the expression “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?”-That’s one of the definitions of insanity. And apparently, a lot of that took place on the Pittsburgh Steelers side of the field (and sideline) at Heinz Field as they took on the red-hot Dallas Cowboys before a nationally-televised audience.
Whether it was the offense, the offensive coordinator, the head coach or the players, but the Steelers tried to 4 2-point conversion attempts and failed on each of them en route to a disappointing and disheartening 35-30 loss to the Cowboys. But you can’t place all the blame on that post-TD decision, most of the blame can also be placed on defense which has let the Steelers down in each of their losses, which has now increased to 5.
In years, the past, it was the defense which was the heart and soul of the Steelers. That unit has helped this team win all 6 of their Super Bowls and at one point, was the NFL’s #1 defense for some years. This year’s version of the Steelers defense must be an embarrassment to their forefathers and the six defensive Hall of Famers who earned the rings and established a legacy.
Apparently, this isn’t your father’s Steelers defense and that fact continues to expose itself to every loss.
Despite their failed 2-point conversion attempts, the Steelers offense did everything they could to win this game. No, there were drives that they either failed to convert or score points, but each of those 30 points came from good execution and on the arm of QB Ben Roethlisberger, who had his best game since returning from a meniscus tear to his left knee four weeks ago.
Big Ben passed for a season-high 408 yards, 3 TD, and no interceptions, but it just wasn’t enough to keep the Steelers from losing their 4th game in a row and fall under .500 for the first time this season.
After the defense had recovered a Cowboys fumble on their opening drive, Big Ben and the Steelers went to work and drove down the field on an obviously disoriented Cowboys defense and scored their first TD of the game when Big Ben found RB Le’Veon Bell for a 2-yard pass TD. But then it started: The Steelers went for 2 and failed, giving them a 6-0 lead. After the Cowboys had closed the gap to 3-0 on a Dan Bailed 37-yard FG, the Steelers struck again on another impressive drive that ended in another TD, this time to rookie WR Jordan Rodgers. But once again, the Steelers tried for 2-and failed, giving them a 12-3 lead.
And then rookie QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys woke up on the next drive as they exposed a Steelers blitz when Prescott found rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott on a short pass that he took 83 yards into the end zone, closing the Steelers lead to 12-10. On the next drive, the Steelers did nothing and punted the ball back to the Cowboys who on their next drive, took their first lead of the game when Bailey nailed a 53-yard FG-the longest at Heinz Field to give the Cowboys their first lead at 13-12.
The Steelers then went on another impressive drive, but after failing three times in the Red Zone, they had to settle for a 39-yard FG, giving them back the least at 15-13. That play ended the first half.
In the second half, the Steelers once again drove the ball down the field on the Cowboys, but once again faltered at the goal line and had to settle for Boswell’s second FG of the game, extending their lead to 18-13. Another Cowboys FG closed the Steelers lead to 18-16.
And then Prescott let Heinz Field know why he’s so great as he punched the Steelers in the gut on a 3rd down when he found WR Dez Bryant on a deep pass that turned into a 50-yard TD, returning the lead to Dallas at 23-18. On that play, Steelers rookie CB Artie Burns was burned badly by Bryant.
Apparently, that TD woke Big Ben and the offense up as he led the Steelers on an impressive drive that led to a 1-yard TD run by Bell, giving the Steelers a 24-23 lead. Once again they tried the 2-point conversion and failed. But then back came the Cowboys who executed a perfect drive that helped kill the 4th quarter clock. Prescott mixed handoffs to Elliott and passes to TE Jason Witten which got them deep into Steeler territory and then Elliott then took the ball and ran it 14 yards into the end zone for a 29-24 lead.
Some may feel that the Steelers allowed Elliott to score so the clock would stop, and the Steelers offense would have another chance at getting that lead back. Whatever the reason, the Steelers offense did just that drove down the field with excellent passes by Big Ben and then the QB tried an old trick when he acted like he was going to call a timeout, which froze the Cowboys defense and found WR Antonio Brown for the 14-yard TD. And what did the Steelers try to do again? You guessed it: A 2-point conversion and once again, it failed, leaving the Steelers with a 30-29 lead.
With over a minute to play, Prescott and the Cowboys went up against that Steelers defense and beat them again. After completing two passes that got the Cowboys first downs, the Steelers made a costly penalty when rookie S Sean Davis grabbed the facemask of Witten, giving them a first down near FG range. And after Witten got the Cowboys even closer, they committed the coup-de-grace when Elliott ran the ball through the Steelers defense untouched yet again for a 31-yard TD, sealing the 35-30 win and their first 8-1 start since their Super Bowl winning seasons.
Prescott was brilliant. He passed for 319 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. Elliott was just as brilliant as he rushed for 114 yards and 2 TDs and caught two passes for 96 yards and a TD. Bryant had six passes for 116 yards and a TD.
Ray’s take-I am disappointed in the Steelers because they gift-wrapped this game to the Cowboys. They should’ve won this game, plain and simple and because of poor coaching decisions and bad defense, they lost. And don’t get me started on those failed 2-point conversions, Big Ben, O-Coordinator Todd Haley and HC Mike Tomlin got too greedy and paid for it. Points lost by one team can turn into points gained by the other, and that’s what happened in this game.
Their defense is a joke right now. They look undisciplined and lazy, not unable to make plays and that’s totally inexcusable. I do give the Cowboys credit because they’re good, and good teams always find ways to win, but they didn’t need help from this underachieving defense. Through it all, I feel that the Steelers will bounce back and win 5 of their last six games. Why? Because Tomlin won’t let this team go out like that.
The Steelers must now shake themselves off and travel to Cleveland to take on the 0-10 Browns. Here’s hoping they won’t play bad enough to give the Browns their first win of the season. But to do so, the Steelers need to stop the insanity.
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