Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers' 0-3 preseason record won't mean a thing when the Tennessee Titans visit Heinz Field Sept. 8.
Nonetheless, the Steelers might have had a win or two to boost their confidence if it hadn't been for their special teams play.
So far in August, the Steelers have had a punt and a field goal blocked, a muffed punt (the culprit on that one, David Gilreath, was cut on Sunday) and a kickoff returned 109 yards for a touchdown.
The Steelers led the Kansas City Chiefs 10-0 in the second quarter when Shaun Suisham lined up for a 52-yard field-goal attempt. Tysyn Hartman blocked it, and five plays later the Chiefs were on the board with a field goal.
Bruce Gradkowski's 34-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton gave the Steelers a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter, but Knile Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 109 yards to tie the game. Josh Victorian whiffed on a tackle attempt.
The Steelers eventually lost the game 26-20 in overtime.
Mike Tomlin and new Steelers special teams coach Danny Smith must learn from history.
In 2001, the Steelers finished the regular season 13-3 and earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Special teams was their soft underbelly, however.
In a late-season game against the 6-10 Bengals, the Steelers gave up a touchdown on a fumbled field goal snap and eventually lost 26-23 in overtime.
Then in the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots took full advantage of the Steelers' shoddy special teams play. They scored touchdowns on a punt return and a blocked field goal and stunned the Steelers 24-17. The victory catapulted the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in four years.
If the Steelers don't get their special teams problems fixed in 2013, their season will be over long before the AFC Championship Game.