The Steelers had the division in their hands and blew it. Why? The offensive ruined things again.
Where to begin. No, really, where to begin on this one.
Entering Monday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers had one job. Win.
Against a two-win Cincinnati Bengals roster, all the franchise had to do was hold off a team without a quarterback for 60 minutes.
He’s right though. Panic time is over. Because when a top-five defense allows a third-string quarterback to waltz into the end zone, you’ve gone from panic mode to life support in a matter of seconds.
That’s what happened when Ryan Finely found his way late to score, ultimately sealing the Steelers fate in a 27-17 upset just 24 hours after the New York Jets claimed their first victory on the year.
The Bengals could barely convert on third down (28.5%) and barely managed to scoop together 230 yards on the night. Meanwhile, the high-tempo offense that Pittsburgh posted the first 12 weeks of the season disappeared like their perfect record.
Horrendous offensive execution led to a loss
Early last week, Fichtner stated he wasn’t afraid to let Ben Roethlisberger throw it deep downfield. Roethlisberger averaged 4.5 yards per pass with the longest throw of the night coming on a 34-yard reception from Chase Claypool.
Most of that was after the catch.
Pittsburgh’s first four drives ended on three-and-outs and a turnover, combining for a total of nine total yards and less than three minutes off the clock. The next ended in a pair of turnovers, both leading to touchdowns in favor of Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh had 14 total possession. Six ended in punts, three ended in turnovers and one put the nail in the coffin.
The Steelers can’t blame the run game since Benny Snell tacked on a season-high 80 yards. It’s hard to blame the drops since Diontae Johnson only had one, yet made up for it with his 23-yard touchdown.
But on fourth down in a crucial must-win game, Claypool, the team’s best mismatch, can’t be on the field?
That alone shows how incompetent Fichtner or really anyone on the staff for that matter is for calling the offensive shots.
The Steelers remained the last undefeated team in the NFL until Week 13. They’ll be lucky to grab another win this season and even hold onto the division. Head to head? Cleveland is better than the team that made the 1972 Dolphins nervous of popping the champagne early.
Fichtner’s play designs have cost the Steelers two wins, but they’ve also put their contender status dead on arrival. If he’s still in the building come Week 16, Pittsburgh’s given up.
Paul Brown Stadium was quiet as the Steelers left the field. There’s only one answer to the question on what happened to Pittsburgh — Tomlin just has to be brave enough to pull the trigger late in a once-promising season.