Through eight games played in the 2013 season, the Steelers sit at 2-6. Two measly wins in half of a 16-game season. You'd think six losses were embarrassment enough, but it was how that sixth loss occurred that turned this Steelers year from a Frank Caliendo joke to a Mitch Hedberg joke. What I mean to say is this loss to the Patriots was a pretty huge joke.
55-31 New England.
For a while, the Steelers clawed back early in the second half, tying the game at 24 with a chance to pull off the improbable. But for those who didn't watch the game itself, yes, those 24 Patriots points became 55 and another game came and went with a crippling result. I cannot forsee a a better product over the final eight games of the season, but we'll keep up with the recaps because beds have been made and they must be slept in.
Ben: Ben had a pretty nice game all things considered. When you put up 400 yards of passing, four TDs and 31 total points, your team should win that game. And that's even with Ben's two INTs, fumble and 20 incompletions. He was let down by Manny and Le'veon dropping some sure catches in critical spots, and it was yet another game where it took drive after failing drive to start the game before the offense got going. One of his INTs was in garbage time, so throw that out. His other INT came when Antonio Brown was literally tackled on an underthown ball (see above pic) which led to the safety picking the ball off uncontested. And with the pass interference calls that went against the Steelers later, it's stunning that nothing was called in that moment. But whatever, that's another two INTs and a fumble on an opening drive deep in Patriots territory. Ben has played this good/bad game far too often this season. 2.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets. Jerricho Cotchery made Ben's day better than it should've been.
RBs: Pretty poor. I actually wanted to like the day they had, with Bell nearly averaging five yards a carry and Jon Dwyer going for 30 on his one tote. Only Bell finished with just 76 yards and I'm tired to trying to spin sub-100 yard games in a positive light when the team really needs an efficient ground game early. Bell went off for a nice 25-yard romp in the second half, and his 29-yard screen reception on 3rd-and-30 to set up a 4th down conversion at the start of the second quarter were bright spots, but they were too infrequent to really matter. Yes, Bell is a young one and he's showing just what he'll be capable of once he gets a few more games in him. It just hurts when the team needs those future positives now. 2 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Defense: Easily the worst game I've ever seen from this defense. The 55 points were the most given up in Steelers history. New England scored on nine of their 14 drives on the day. Tom Brady went for over 400 yards passing and four TDs, with the entire team going over 600 yards as a team. The Patriots ended with three WRs catching a TD with over 100 yards each, and had a RB do the same on the ground. That's…pathetic. CBs Ike Taylor and Willie Gay are just no longer capable of covering anyone, which only gets compounded when Ryan Clark provides little to no safety help. Troy was frustrated early by the lack of coverage and had a few gaffes himself. And he tried to make up for it early in the second half with a forced fumble that started the Steelers' mini-comeback. Only that fumble was the brightest spot of the day for the defense, because they literally did nothing else to support the offense. Like I said above, 31 points scored, four passing TDs and a 400-yard passing day for the QB should put your team in position to win, not lose by 24. 0 of 5 motorcycle helmets. There was a time when the Steelers could win with a third of those offensive stats. Now, not so much.
Cotchery: On a day where I could not even be happy about the stats and points put up by the offense because of the repeated failures of the defense, I'm glad there was at least one player that put up a 100% positive performance. And it's staggering that it came from 1,000-year-old Jerricho Cotchery. Seven catches on eight targets for 96 yards and three TDs. At one point early in the second half Cotchery had two receiving TDs in under four minutes to help the Steelers tie the game at 24. The Steelers needed more guys on offense converting at Cotchery-type levels, as well as the defense doing Cotchery-relative defensive things. That didn't happen. But Cotchery's performance did. 4.5 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Bills at Heinz next week. I'd normally be excited about playing a crappy team like Buffalo but they have three wins compared to the Steelers' two. Any criticism of a team like the Bills just magnifies how much the Steelers have blown this season.