Game Notes: Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Josh WetmoreCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2009

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 20: Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs after a catch against the Chicago Bears on September 20, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Steelers 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

From the notebook of a writer who for the life of him can’t figure out how the Steelers lost the last two games.

Fatal Error

Allowing the Bengals to even be in the game in the second half by failing to get touchdowns in the redzone. Pittsburgh was inside the Bengal’s ten-yard-line, three times in the first half and only came away with one touchdown. Even two out of three touchdowns would almost put the game out of reach for the Bengal’s. Instead the still had a chance.

Valiant Effort

Mike Wallace had a break out game, catching seven passes for over 100 yards. He had the best game of any Steelers player and converted multiple key first downs for the offense to keep drives alive.

Exposed Weakness

Not so much exposed as confirmed. The Steelers have no form of short yardage running game. While short yardage is only needed sparingly it is a crucial aspect of football. It allows for critical first downs and scores touchdowns instead of field goals. In short, it can win or lose games. For the Steelers is loses games.

Game Notes

  • Pittsburgh has completely reversed their quarterly trends from last year. In 2008 Pittsburgh almost always came out flat offensively and sometimes as team in general. They always put it together in the second half especially the fourth quarter to win the game.
  • In the last two games the team has done the exact opposite. The offense has scored early only to stall in the fourth quarter with the game on the line and the defense has given up two straight game losing drives inside two minutes.
  • Dick Lebeau is still the best defensive coordinator in the NFL but he really needs do a better job disguising blitzes. Better disguised blitzes will get defenders into the backfield unblocked and will also better hide weaknesses in pass coverage.
  • It is strange and startling that James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley aren’t putting more pressure on passers. Maybe teams have learned to get rid of the ball quickly but still, those two players should be generating more hurried throws and sacks.
  • Does it concern anyone that Santonio Holmes had the same number of receptions as Matt Spaeth, and Mewelde Moore? It should.
  • The amazing part about the game against the Bengals is that despite all of these problems the team is actually playing better than it did in its win over the Titans.
  • The running game came back alive as Willie Parker rushed for almost 100 yards.
  • The offensive line opened up holes in the run game and only allowed one sack.
  • Mike Wallace emerged as the best slot receiver the Steelers have had since Antwaan Randle El backed up Ward and Plaxico Burress.
  • Lastly Jeff Reed made 2-of-3 field goal attempts and the only miss was a 52 yard attempt, a reasonable miss.
  • Somehow, despite all this positive Mike Tomlin’s team still lost. Is it time to panic? Not yet but poise your home over that panic button just in case. Better hope the problem is missing Troy and that he comes back very soon.
  • Last week I sited two unlikely plays from the Bears game. Apparently neither are as unlikely as originally thought. Casey Hampton was quick enough to run down Carson Palmer for a sack and Willie Parker caught two more passes.
  • Parker actually matched his reception total from last year already. It was important for him to become an option in the passing game this season and he has indeed done that.

Special Congratulations

Hines Ward became the first Pittsburgh Steelers to eclipse the 10,000 receiving yard milestone during the game on Sunday. Every year experts expect Ward to decline due to age and each year he proves he’s still one of the best overall football players in the game. His credentials are making it harder and harder for voters to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.