So the second quarter just started as I’m typing this. The Steelers are losing 28-0 to the Browns. As of now and more than likely, this is the most embarrassing loss in the history of this franchise. Worse than losing to Tim Tebow in a playoff game, worse than losing to Blake Bortles in a playoff game, and worse than losing to Ryan Finley on Monday Night Football.
Just for fun let’s remind ourselves of what the Browns are dealing with going into this game. Five coaches missing for COVID reasons including their head coach Kevin Stefanski who runs their offense and was a huge reason for them getting to the playoffs to begin with. Five starters missing, including Vernon and Ward who are their second and third best defensive players. To top it all off, the Browns practiced once as a team this week preparing for this game. On the opposite side, the Steelers rested starters, had a full week of practice, and zero key players on the injury report. You can attach any negative adjective you like to describe this outcome, but I’ll use sickening. Seriously, my stomach and head are growling watching this game unfold.
This has to be it for Ben Roethlisberger, it just has to be. He finished the day with four interceptions. There really isn’t much to analyze except for that he played absolutely awful. Missing every open receiver and throwing into contested coverage. It’s a sad reality for Steelers fans but it’s just the truth and there’s no denying it. The horror started from the very first play as Pouncey chucked the snap sky high into the end zone and the Browns scored right from the start. Every single issue that the Steelers faced in the last month has come to haunt them in this game. All the bad snaps, throws, drops, and blocks have come home to roost.
Before the game, Matt Feiler was activated and got the start over Kevon Dotson. This decision makes no sense to anyone that’s even watched the Steelers play this year. Feiler has been a liability at guard while Dotson has debatably been the most consistent for this team. Completely unprepared across the board and at every level. While I’ve been a big Mike Tomlin fan throughout his tenure, there’s no excusing having his team looking this bad and unprepared for a playoff game.
In the last four seasons, the Steelers have flamed out spectacularly. 2017 was a loss to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars coming off a first-round bye. 2018 they lost four out of their last five to miss the playoffs. 2019 was three straight losses to finish .500 on the season and miss the playoffs. 2020 they are in the process of losing five out of six games and getting first rounded by the Browns. I won’t jump on the fire Mike Tomlin train because he should still get credit for never having a losing season but the seat should be hot without a doubt.
Even though the defense hasn’t been helped by three turnovers, they’re still folding like cheap tents. 28 points in the first half (35 but one wasn’t on them). Nick Chubb is slicing through the Steelers defense like a knife slices through butter. Run defense looks soft and you couldn’t tell Stefanski isn’t on the sideline by the looks of their offense. Mayfield is tearing it up by throwing accurate balls to pretty wide-open receivers. Worst of all the tackling has been garbage. Terrell Edmunds isn’t looking like the player I thought he’d improve himself to be. He’s missed about three tackles leading to big-time runs so far. Awful offense, awful defense, and awful coaching has all coalesced into madness for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Of course the Steelers tried to mount a second-half comeback, but it fell short and the Steelers lost by a score of 48-37. The end to this rollercoaster of a season is finally over. They started at 11-0 and finished a pathetic 12-5. Ben finished with a wild statline of 47-68 for 501 yards, 4 touchdown passes, and four interceptions. Juju and Johnson both finished with over 100 yards. The offense got hot in the second half and scored four touchdowns but it wasn’t enough.
At the end of the day, climbing out of a 28-0 hole is practically impossible. Zero sacks for the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense tonight and interestingly enough, they’ve registered zero sacks in their last two playoff games. The other one was in 2017 vs the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the play on the field was bad, the coaching was worse. Nevermind the fact that they came into the game woefully unprepared, Mike Tomlin put himself squarely on the hot seat with his awful decisions. Punting with all the momentum at midfield makes absolutely no sense and is purely idiotic.
Judging this season is interesting, as on a surface level view winning the AFC North and 12 games would be a success given their preseason expectations being lower than those results. However, there is no way this season can be viewed as a success due to the Steelers absolutely collapsing in the last two months. This was yet another chapter in the sad Steelers playoff losses since their prior glory which ended a once thought to be promising season.