Carter is going to be a weak link

Tyrone Carter might as well have a target on his back.

What the loss of strong safety Troy Polamalu means was very evident in the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-14 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bears.

Backup Tyrone Carter was beaten in coverage on both Chicago touchdowns, first getting boxed out by tight end Michael Gaines at the goal line in the first half, then getting beaten to the inside by rookie receiver Johnny Knox for a seven-yard score in the fourth quarter.

The Steelers also had just three pass defenses, with Carter getting one when he jacked up tight end Greg Olsen down the sidelines in the second quarter to jar the ball free.

Opponents are going to continually target Carter in key passing situations because they know they can beat him more often than not.

Polamalu can't get back soon enough.

© Who would have guessed that next week's game at Cincinnati would be a huge one for the Steelers? With both teams sitting at 1-1 and Baltimore off to a 2-0 start, a loss against the Bengals would not only have the Steelers chasing the Ravens, but the Bengals as well.

And if not for a fluke play against the Broncos, the Bengals would be 2-0 right now as well.

A loss next week at Cincinnati – which could happen – wouldn't kill the Steelers, but it would certainly put them in chase mode the rest of the season.

© Without Polamalu in the lineup, the Steelers have to be more aggressive trying to get the ball into the end zone.

We saw a little of that Sunday when head coach Mike Tomlin decided to go for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal on the team's opening possession, and later when offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called for a throw into the end zone to Santonio Holmes on third down from the Chicago 25 in a 14-14 game.

The fourth-down call worked, as Ben Roethlisberger hit Matt Spaeth in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The throw to Holmes did not, as Holmes dropped the pass – one of three drops he had Sunday.

© The Steelers are now a team that passes to set up the run.

We saw how that worked Sunday as Pittsburgh gained 80 yards rushing in the second half on 12 attempts after gaining just 25 yards in the first half on 10 rushes.

The running game wasn't particularly effective when the Steelers lined up and the Bears knew they were running the ball. And that's something that is going to continue to be a problem for this team.

© Chicago ran a lot of screens and quick passes to help negate the Steelers pass rush. The Bears also completely abandoned their rushing attack, figuring they would not be able to generate anything on the ground.

The scary thing about that is that Chicago doesn't have great receivers - though running back Matt Forte is an accomplished receiver out of the backfield.

But Pittsburgh's next two opponents, Cincinnati and San Diego, have good receivers who can better attack this defense down the field as well as catch the short ones and make something happen.

The Steelers had better find a way to stop that attack, which has effectively negated Pittsburgh's pass rush. The Steelers have just two sacks and one interception in two games. And the interception was by Polamalu.

© It's very difficult to win on the road in the NFL, though the Steelers have done very well doing so the past few years.

But as we saw Sunday, a little break here or there is all the home team needs.

James Farrior said after the game that this game was one the Steelers usually find a way to win. But the Bears out-Steelered the Steelers.

Just as Tennessee's Rod Bironas had missed a pair of field goals to leave the door open for the Steelers to pull one out in the opener, Jeff Reed missed two field goals to leave the door open for the Bears.

© Roethlisberger won't get credit for another fourth-quarter comeback, but he certainly should have.

He did everything he needed to do for the Steelers to win Sunday, from putting the ball right on Holmes' hands in the end zone, to moving them into field goal range twice in the fourth quarter.

So long as the Steelers can keep him upright - and the protection was very good Sunday - they'll be in every game they play this year.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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