After watching the Steelers defense give up a lead for the third straight game, and the Steelers fall to a dangerous 1-2, here are my snap judgements from the Cincinnati debacle.
1. Going for it on fourth and four yards to go at the end of the half was pure stupidity. You could actually feel the momentum swing over to the Bengals after they stopped Big Ben.
2. Coming out of the half and throwing it on every single down after accumulating over 70 yards in the first half just proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Bruce Arians IS THE WORST OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR in NFL history.
Even worse than putting the ball in the air with a 13-3 lead was his decision to go to a five wide set. He might as well have walked over to the Bengals sideline and said, "Hey, we're not going to run it because I'm an idiot, so play the pass only." The fact that the Bengals got a pick six on the series was just icing on the cake for Arians. Sometimes I wonder whose team he's actually on.
3. Drafting Limas Sweed in the second round was dumb enough, but actually putting him into the game and watching him yet again drop a touchdown pass was priceless. If Tomlin doesn't waive him after this week, I'm going to start to believe Arians's stupidity is starting to rub off onto Tomlin.
4) Our beautiful defense, which is WAY overrated this season, once again gave up two critical touchdown drives after the offense put them into a position where all they had to do was force field goals. I KNEW there was no way our hapless defense was going to stop the Bengals on that last drive.
And please don't talk about how Polamalu being out is making that much of a difference: he was on the field in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl when the Steelers blew a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead.
I'm starting to question Lebeau's play-calling. How can your defense hold a team to minus-10 yards in the first quarter and to only three total points in the first half, and then get smoke-checked in the second half?
I'll tell you how that happens: the offensive coordinator for the other team outcoached Lebeau, just like Chicago did, and just like the Titans almost did. Other teams have figured out the formula to defeat the vaunted Steelers defense and unless they start to make adjustments in stride against the opponent, we're doomed to see this play out this entire season.
5. Our offense got inside the red zone three times and totaled 13 points. It should have been 21 points. Kicking field goals will not win games when your defense plays like the Cleveland Browns. The offense is going to have to start taking chances, knowing that no matter how many points they put up, the leaky defense only has a 50/50 chance of stopping the other team when it matters most.
6. Jeff Reed missed yet another field goal to the left. It had plenty of leg, but he shanked it. I know it was over 50 yards, but clutch kickers must make those types of kicks (especially ones that want a new contract).
7. The Steelers are about to make or break their entire season next week when San Diego comes to town. Does anyone feel confident in our pass defense with Phillip Rivers coming? I know I don't.