Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ouch!!! Steelers Lose Opener At Home To Titans 16-9

Titans Stun Steelers In Opener 16-9

Believe it or not, there was some good news this week. Everyone else in the division lost too.

But right now that's little consolation considering the Steelers ended the 2012 season 8-8, went 0-4 in this pre-season and now dropped the opener to the Titans (Steelers won 10 straight home openers previous to this game). In the pre-season, the Steelers had a 28.8% third down conversation rate, and they ended the pre-season 29th in red-zone efficiency.

So what went wrong?

Losing Maurkice Pouncey and Larry Foote to serious injuries was the beginning of bad news. In fact, the injuries may be season ending. This occurred after a pre-season when the Steelers reminded everyone of how important it was for the offensive line to remain healthy.

That was followed by a pathetic 195 total yards for the Steelers. Rushing yards proved to be embarrassing with a total of 32 yards. In play selection, Steelers passed 69% to 31% rushing while the Titans mirrored the Steelers in the opposite direction passing 32% compared to rushing 68% of the time. In fact, the Steelers only ran 15 times, 10 in the first half and 5 in the second. They ended the day with a "whopping" 2.1 yards per carry. To add to the embarrassment, the run plays never produced a first down (Steelers ended up with 14 first downs compared to 17 for Tennessee). In fact, Steelers time of possession was almost a full ten minutes less than the Titans. If the Steelers running game continues to produce pathetic results, the Steelers will need more production out of the passing game. But that's going to be a problem if Haley's short-yardage passing game fails to produce any first downs. And, as Ron Cammarata, an occasional contributor to this blog, noted it depends on how long Ben "holds the ball" and also noting Roethlisberger does not have the quick releases of Manning, Brady, Brees or Rodgers.

Once again, penalties  and turnovers cost the Steelers field position on two occasions---an illegal block on Jason Worilds and a holding penalty on Shamarko Thomas. Isaac Redman fumbled twice, once deep in Titan territory.

There was some good news even in this distressing loss. Roethlisberger converted 4 of 7 third downs and Woodley recorded his first sack of the season. Jarvis Jones also recorded a tackle in the backfield on Chris Johnson. Antonio Brown had 5 receptions for 71 yards followed by 7 receptions by Sanders for 57 yards.

Coach Tomlin summed it up best: "We got a lot of work to do." This statement follows an earlier statement after the team's second pre-season loss when Tomlin said, "We need to get better in a hurry." Today's game made both of those statements appear conspicuously obvious.

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