The Aftermath: Steelers 9, Titans 16

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(Note: Yes, I’m [Anthony] back. Please stop reading now accordingly.)

I have to be honest, I’m completely caught off-guard right now. A loss for words. Disappointed more than disgusted, but still… that sucked. I was completely expecting to write a recap of how the Steelers completely romped the Titans, so for this to happen instead… just sucks.

I know it’s not a popular feeling at all right now, but I’d been really excited about this team. Really excited. I can’t say I’ve been a fan of every move and decision they’ve made lately, but for the most part I feel like they’ve been making the necessary changes for a transition to a younger team over the past three seasons. I was actually a huge fan of the talent they had in place¬†last year, but felt like most of the young guns were too immature for that to translate their potential into success. Take away Mike Wallace’s attitude, add in some even more promising young guys via the draft, and I was one of the only crazy bastards in Pittsburgh who thought things were looking up. I got even more excited¬†when I saw Peyton Manning historically torch the Ravens on Thursday night. I was bouncing off the walls by the time this morning rolled around.

And then they played the game.

It was bad. Ohhhhh, it was very bad.

For brief second at the beginning, I thought everything was going just as it should have been. On the opening kickoff, Darius Reynaud boneheadedly took a knee after exiting and re-entering the endzone, resulting in a safety. Two points and the offense gets the ball 3 seconds in the game? I’ll take that any day of the week. They took full advantage of this and marched right down the field, all the way to the Titans’ 6. I thought for sure the rout was on.

But then Isaac Redman fumbled into the endzone and the air was taken out of everything. The team, the fans, the coaches, the stadium, everything — completely deflated. None of them ever recovered.

There’s not really much to say about the game the rest of the way.

I’m really not sure what to think at this point. On one hand, that was a pathetic of a display by this team I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, there were some encouraging things we’re sitting on right now.

The Bad:

– The defense tried it’s hardest, but was completely gassed by halftime thanks to the putrid (I may be too glowing with ‘putrid’) offense. 4 for 13 on third down. 195 total yards, a good portion of which came in garbage time. 32 yards rushing. 26 minutes TOP to the Titans’ 34. That’s about all the storytellin’ you need, folks. The Steelers got whipped today, plain and simple.

– The offensive line consists of two first round picks, two second round picks and is playing just as well as a 2003 Steelers o-line that consisted of guys like Todd Fordham. That’s not good.

– Maurkice Pouncey had his ACL/MCL turned into Isaly’s (make that one first round pick and two second round picks) and Larry Foote’s bicep exploded or something. Obviously both are done for the year. Cortez Allen is hurt again too. Cortez needs is a huge piece of the puzzle for the defense right now and if he’s sidelined like he has been for most of the past month and William Gay is in the lineup, that hurts pretty badly.

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– Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling ain’t exactly Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier… they’re not even Bam Morris and Erric Pegram. Felix Jones — the most talented, healthy RB on the roster — sat on the sideline most of the game and only came in late in passing situations. Didn’t carry the ball a single time. Apparently the coaches don’t feel he’s comfortable enough for that yet. I’ll begrudgingly give them the benefit of the doubt but this needs to change, soon.

– I know a lot of people are harping on Todd Haley right now, and I see where they’re coming from, but this is a much deeper-seated issue than the guy calling the plays. Haley didn’t fumble in the endzone. Or throw the interception. Or miss blocks on the 5 sacks. Or gain 2.1 yards per carry. All of those play calls work for the most part if the players execute. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a Haley apologist, but this whole squad has some serious issues right now.

– The Pirates quest for 82’s been denied again (I know this is irrelevant to the Steelers, but come on, sports gods… at least Breaking Bad is on tonight)

The Good:

– Besides the interception, Ben himself looked pretty good, given the circumstances

– Troy Polamalu looks to be as healthy as he’s ever been. I think he may finally be working out in an orthodox way (i.e. muscle strength more than that weird muscle speed he used to) and that could pay off big time.

– Jarvis Jones didn’t have the greatest debut but he definitely showed flashes, and he’s already probably one of my favorite players on D right now.

– LaMarr Woodley showed promise for the first time in a while. Everybody knows this guy has Defensive Player of the Year talent. Let’s hope he plays more like it this year.

– The defense itself as whole is very good. They got worn out today, but when they’re not sucking wind, they will be one of the best. It’s on the offense to give them breaks.

– Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell will be back (please!) soon and that could provide a boost they desperately need

– Gregg Williams is still one of the best defensive coordinators out there and he has the Titans playing good defense right now. It wasn’t all due to the Steelers’ ineptitude.

– The Ravens looked awful, the Browns are still the Browns and the OVERRATED Bengals lost as well. So the Steelers are tied for “first place” right now.

– Next week the Steelers head to Cincinatti in a huge, huge Monday Night game. If the Steelers can find a way to win it (and I still think they can, remarkably), the Bengals starting off 0-2 and the Steelers avoiding it would obviously be huge. The Bears come to town and Vikings are in London after that. We’re going to find out a lot about this team before the month is over.

See you in Cinci.

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