Super Bowl hangover Part II

The Steelers have stumbled their way to a 1-2 start by blowing back-to-back fourth quarter leads. What in the name of Bill Cowher is going on?

Somebody had better call a doctor because if the Pittsburgh Steelers don't find a cure for the Super Bowl hangover that is currently affecting them, it's going to be a long, cold January with no postseason in Pittsburgh.

And that would be a shame.

The Steelers have historically found ways to win games in which they held fourth quarter leads such as the 14-7 edge they had in Chicago last week, or the 20-9 advantage they had against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

In fact, under former head coach Bill Cowher, the Steelers were 111-1-1 in games in which they held a lead of 10 or more points in the fourth quarter.

But those are games you should win when you're a good team, particularly one with as many defensive stars as the Steelers.

"History is not going to make the plays," said linebacker James Farrior, one of those stars. "We established ourselves in the first half. We've got to come out in the second half and not let teams hang around."

For whatever reason, this team seems to lack a killer instinct, something it had plenty of in previous years.

But, as Farrior so eloquently put it, history is not going to make plays.

© Since Troy Polamalu went down with a sprained knee in the second quarter of the opening game against Tennessee, the Steelers have been outscored 50-40.

Included in that total are 27 fourth quarter points.

This defense just isn't finishing games.

It would help a great deal if the offense had put up more than 13 points after 250-yard first half, as well.

© That was a bad decision by Mike Tomlin to go for it on fourth-and-five from the 35 late in the first half.

The Bengals had done nothing offensively to that point and if Daniel Sepulveda had pinned them inside their own 20, they likely would have been happy to only be down 13-0.

Instead, the Bengals were happy to get the ball at their own 35 and put three points on the board.

© On the other side of the coin, I would have gone for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 on the Steelers' opening possession. This team has to find ways to score touchdowns when it gets inside the 5.

The Steelers have five touchdowns this season and Ben Roethlisberger has accounted for all five, three passing, two rushing. I'm pretty sure he could have fallen into the end zone from the 1 on this occasion as well.

© The Bengals had 117 yards on their first seven possessions. They had 156 yards and two touchdowns in their final two possessions.

Included in that were three - count 'em, three – fourth down conversions.

That's the kind of stuff that can't happen.

© Another game, another tackle for LaMarr Woodley.

This is getting to be a nasty habit for Woodley, a key component of this defense. This team needs its playmakers to make plays and that's not happening right now.

Woodley isn't the only culprit, just the most obvious.

© If I'm coaching this team, Limas Sweed wouldn't see the field again unless there was an injury to another receiver.

That's a catch you have to make if you want to keep playing. Shaun McDonald might not be able to get open deep like that, be he also wouldn't drop any ball thrown to him.

© The Steelers acknowledged their running game problems a little bit by using rookie Ramon Foster as a third tight end on running downs.

Then again, it may have been out of necessity after rookie tight end David Johnson went down with a sprained ankle.

But it's a step in the right direction nonetheless.

After watching second-string tight end Matt Spaeth whiff on a block on safety Chris Crocker in the third quarter, anything this team can do to get more blockers on the field is a good thing.

Johnson, by the way, started at fullback, while Tank Summers was inactive. Again, a step in the right direction.

Another step that way was the use of Deshea Townsend and Keiwan Ratliff at strong safety on obvious passing downs in place of coverage liability Tyrone Carter.

Whatever it takes.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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