Hard-nose running game, stout defense versus the run, and all out physical play are the things the Steelers have prided themselves on for years. However, who the Steelers were and what they have transformed into was clear in their 31-29 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Steelers have a long vacation ahead of them to sort these problems out.
To start, the Steelers offense showed much promise. The Ben Roethlisberger show was on display, throwing and catching until the running game made its appearance inside the red zone. The Steelers made it look easy with an opening drive that ended with a 7-0 lead. The black and gold faithful spun their terrible towels in celebration.
Unfortunately the kickoff team had to take the field. And this special team was not so special. With a 95-yard return, the Jags took control at the Steelers' two yard line. Momentum then aligned itself with the Jags and, after two Rothlisberger interceptions, they were up 14 points heading into halftime.
This night was a nightmare from the beginning for the team from the steel town that used to pray on intimidated foes at home. No longer are teams scared of them. No longer do the Steelers pound the ball with a powerful running game. And though they had many injuries, this game was more about who these Steelers are then who they were.
Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and was sacked four times in the first half! Sure the Jags are good, but not as much as the Steelers are bad. The "Steel Curtain" gave up an eight-play, 82-yard drive for a touchdown immediately after the Steelers had closed the lead 21-10.
And after these Steelers struck again and again and had a slim lead of 29-28 in the fourth quarter, the defense gave up an unbelievable QB scramble on a third and three that resulted in a Scobee field goal, ultimately giving the win to the Jaguars.
Can you believe a Bill Cower team giving up long kick-off returns, interceptions for touchdowns, and a defense that falters in the closing moments?
Well , one thing is for sure—Mike Tomlin and staff have a long time to figure out who they are and who they want to be.