The Steelers came out Monday night a beat up team from the previous week. With the nagging shoulder and hand of Ben Roethlisberger and the sprained knee of Willie Parker, the offense has been almost virtually shut down.
The Steelers looked to turn things around Monday night, but only managed 67 first half yards. The offensive line, who gave up nine sacks to the Eagles defense a week before, surrendered three first half sacks to the top ranked Baltimore defense.
To add insult to injury, or rather injury to injury, veteran right guard, Kendall Simmons suffered an achilles injury late in the game and has been put on IR and will be out for the season. Joining him will be the rookie out of Illinois, Rashard Mendenhall, who got his first NFL start, suffering from a fractured shoulder.
However, the Steelers did make adjustments in the second half switching to a no huddle offense. Roethlisberger made adjustments himself, dropping back quicker, providing for a quicker release despite the lack of time he was allowed in the pocket leading to an OT victory 23-20.
The Steelers now have to prepare for a short week before traveling to Jacksonville who Roethlisberger is 1-3 against, winning his only game his rookie season. Jacksonville, just like Baltimore, has a strong defensive front and will get to the quarterback quickly.
The Steelers, who have recently signed FA former Steeler, Najeh Davenport, will need to get back to Steeler football: smashmouth, grind it out, run up the middle and in your face. That is what the Steeler offensive line specializes in which is why the pass rush is so effective against them, and with Kendall Simmons out, whether it is Tony Hills or Trai Essex, the line will be more vulnerable.
However, Bruce Arians does need to note that Matt Schaub, the struggling quarterback of the Houston Texans, put up 3 touchdowns and 315 passing yards against the Jaguars. Not saying to throw the ball every down, but to mix the play calling up a bit more, maybe throw in a couple of gadget plays, because with the injuries accounted for and the atmosphere of hated Jacksonville, the Steelers will need everything in their arsenal.
As for the defense, who played stellar Monday night, compiling five sacks, two forced fumbles, and a defensive touchdown, will face a less-than-worthy Jaguar offense who still hasn't gotten a feel of consistency this year, will have to step up again and create turnovers keep momentum and put this game away quick.