Costly turnovers and a defense that couldn't get stops on critical downs doomed the Steelers in their 31-28 loss tonight in Denver. For a defense that looked so suffocating against the Seahawks, they allowed consecutive 3rd and 14 conversions on the same drive against the Broncos, and for the majority of the game, Jay Cutler didn't breathed on in the pocket.
Even though they used the pass effectively to take the opening drive for a score. I have to question why the running game was limited to four carries in the first quarter against the league's worst run D. I understand that they were stacking the line, but it didn't really stop Pittsburgh from running the ball soundly the rest of the game.
For the most part, the O-line really didn't show up for this one. Kendall Simmons whiffed on blocks and Sean Mahan had problems getting snaps into Roethlisberger's hands. The team almost seems like they bank of Roethlisberger being able to shake off oncoming rushers, as if they don't need to block for the guy because he can roll his shoulders and scramble until someone gets open. That it works a decent percentage of the time doesn't make it seem any less shaky.
Credit is certainly due for the team erasing a 28-14 4th quarter deficit. Having tied the game, the defense however allowed Denver to move down the field with a minute and change to set up the winning field goal. As much as I was impressed by the Tampa Two/Zone Blitz hybrid last week against the West Coast Offense, there needs to be more emphasis on sending rushers after the quarterback.
Luckily, Baltimore remains an inept bunch of dicksmacks, so the Steelers remain a half game up in the AFC North, but now Pittsburgh has lost two out of three and is 1-2 on the season on the road. Next week, the Steelers travel to Paul Brown, one road venue where they have had considerable success the last few years.