The Steelers played sloppy football during the second half against the Bengals Sunday night. With a 27-7 lead, they allowed the Bengals to come back to with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Both touchdowns were byproducts of suspicious penalties, but nonetheless, it came to 14 additional points.
Last year, the Steelers defense allowed comebacks from teams sitting in the bottom of the scrap heap, Cleveland, Oakland, Kansas City. To allow the Bengals who are positioned in the bottom of the division to make such a comeback is not comforting.
The good thing is the defense closed out the game and the Steelers eked out the win 27-21.
The Steelers are home winning two out of three games on the road. What’s important about this accomplishment, the wins were against AFC teams, one conference and one in the division.
The next challenge will be Sunday night against another conference opponent, 6-2 New England Patriots.
Coach Tomlin calls them a scalded Patriot outfit. I am not sure what he means by scalded, but if it has anything to with heat, then yes, they have to be burning hot after the loss to the Cleveland Browns last Sunday.
The Browns took it to them, like the Dolphins did two years before. The Browns implemented some wild-cat offense, trickeration plays and being just plain physical to defeat the Patriots 34-14.
Sunday will be the battle of two battered titans; both shouldering considerable injuries with starters.
The Steelers lose a second offensive tackle this season. T Max Starks joins Willie Colon on IR with a disc issue in the neck.
The plan is to insert T Jonathan Scott, just activated from the physically unable to perform list, at right tackle and move right T Flozell Adams to the left side where he played for the Cowboys prior to this season.
In addition, G Chris Kemoeatu has a knee sprain and rookie center Maurkice Pouncey suffers with a tibia bruise. Both are expected to play.
As thin as the Steelers are at running back, it’s become even thinner with both Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redmond sustaining concussions from the Bengals game. They are day-to-day.
Defensively, the Steelers are relatively healthy with only DE Brett Keisel still dealing with the hamstring issue.
The Patriots fair no better. It has been reported that QB Tom Brady did not practice due to a foot injury and kicker Stephen Gostkowski out for the season with a quad injury. The Patriots signed former Cincinnati Bengal Shayne Graham as replacement kicker for Gostkowski.
Backup QB Brian Hoyer replaced Brady during the Patriot’s final drive in the loss to the Browns. He attempted two passes, one fell incomplete and the other was intercepted.
Statistically, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is playing better than Brady averaging 260 yards passing to Brady’s 250 yards. Historically, the Steelers defense has held Patriot running backs to three yards per carry.
In eight games thus far, the Steelers have held their opponents to an average 2.6 yards per carry and allow 58.2 yards per game. The Patriots defense on the other hand allow an average 4.1 yards per carry and 117.6 per game. That’s a nice set up for RB Mendenhall to ram the rock down the Patriots throat
The last time these two teams met was in 2008 at Gillette Stadium where the Steelers defeated the Patriots 33-10. The Patriots are 7-10 overall in Pittsburgh, and won their last game at Heinz Field, 23-20 in 2005.