Home » Blog » Steelers Can’t Sustain Defense, Break Even Without Big Ben

Steelers Can’t Sustain Defense, Break Even Without Big Ben


The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and ugly history of playing down to their competition. Starting a fourth-string quarterback in his debut game against a 1-5 Kansas City Chiefs outfit might not qualify as an expected blowout, but the records will show the defeat anyway.

After a whirlwind half of football last week, in which he threw two touchdowns and scored on every offensive drive he commandeered after Mike Vick went out, Landry Jones was brought back down to earth by a Chiefs pass rush hungry for more than just some KC barbeque.

Jones was sacked twice, picked off twice and lost a fumble in a miserable – but, in many ways, expected – showing.

The Pittsburgh defense, which has stepped up massively since Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, could not sustain its recent purple patch of play. As they have a tendency to do against sub-par teams, the Steelers made Alex Smith look like a Pro Bowl quarterback, completing 21 of 32 for 251 yards and a touchdown.

The NFL’s third-most sacked signal caller enjoyed a fairly comfortable day in the pocket. He was sacked only twice and hooked up with three receivers for over 60 yards apiece, led by virtually uncoverable tight end Travis Kelce.   

The Steelers’ “bend-but-don’t-break” mentality was again tested early, but Kansas City only had 3 field goals to its credit by the half time break. A pair of three-and-outs forced by Pittsburgh to start the second half helped the offense pull to within 3, but as time of possession began to shift in the Chiefs’ favour, the Steelers gave up the backbreaking touchdown after chasing points all afternoon.

When put in context, it isn’t all bad for the Steelers. If the season ended today, they would still sneak into the playoffs as the sixth seed in the AFC. The injury-plagued team enters its crucial division clash with the undefeated Bengals at 4-3, and the expectation that Big Ben will be back in pads and a helmet by mid-week.

A 2-2 record with a journeyman backup and depth chart filler playing the game’s most important position is something to be proud of. Pittsburgh gets elevated to the NFL’s most explosive offense with Roethlisberger back at the helm. Expect a fiery encounter at Heinz Field as a revitalised Steelers outfit fights to keep the division competitive against its upstart rival next week.

  • 100%