New Castle News

Sports

September 30, 2013

Steve Treu: No matter where they play, Steelers offer pitiful performances

NEW CASTLE — So you are sitting there on the couch yesterday watching the Steelers-Vikings game beside your annoying friend.

You know, the one who screams too much at the TV like the guy “Ramsey” in the Bud Light commercial.

Goodness knows there was plenty going on in London yesterday for International Steeler Nation to scream about during a 34-27 loss to Minnesota, which was the home team because of England’s close proximity to the Vikings’ native home of Norway.

Exhibit A: Midway through the first quarter, Pittsburgh trails 3-0, Minnesota has a third-and-short on its own 30.

Matt Cassel fires an out to Greg Jennings, who quickly breaks an arm tackle by Cortez Allen and then eludes a weak attempt by William Gay.

Robert Golden has a shot at the veteran Vikings receiver, but he gets blasted out of the play, while Cam Heyward appears to tackle a Vikings blocker who does not have the ball, though at least he is near Jennings.

Ike Taylor and Lawrence Timmons are now in hot pursuit, except Jennings easily cools their jets, and then he quickly widens the gap on a gassed Ryan Clark.

The play stays alive long enough for Allen to get back into it and miss another tackle (Effort = A; Form = Not So Much). Finally, just before Jennings steps into the end zone, Troy Polamalu whiffs on a shoestring attempt.

Final tally: Nine realistic shots at Jennings, zero tackles, 10-0 Vikings lead.

“They can’t hear you, Ramsey.”

Exhibit B: Late in the second quarter, Pittsburgh trails 17-10, Minnesota has third-and-5 on its own 39.

LaMarr Woodley strip-sacks Cassel and the ball bounces off the paws of Heyward. Then Jarvis Jones pulls it to his hip, which knocks it forward like a cue ball right to Jerome Simpson, who recovers it for a 10-yard gain and a first down, keeping alive what turns out to be a field-goal drive.

Textbook execution of a fumble recovery. Just like they teach it in junior high.

Oh, and the Steelers still have not forced a turnover this season, the only team in the league not to have done so. Oh, and Ike almost had an interception on the game’s opening drive.

“They can’t hear you, Ramsey.”

Exhibit C: Midway through the third quarter, Pittsburgh trails 27-17 and has a first down on its own 28.

The Vikings force Ben Roethlisberger out of the pocket and he runs to his left, spotting Emmanuel Sanders on a crossing pattern. Sanders sees Roethlisberger. They share a moment.

Then Sanders cuts back inside. Roethlisberger throws it there. Except it was a fake. Sanders doesn’t cut back inside. Roethlisberger completes it to Chad Greenway, who is a linebacker for the Vikings, who score another touchdown two plays later.

“They can’t hear you, Ramsey.”

Exhibit D: Nineteen seconds remaining in the game, Pittsburgh trails 34-27 and has a third-and-goal on the Minnesota 6.

Roethlisberger settles into the pocket just as Sanders breaks left along the goal line and appears to be getting open. Alas, the big claw of Everson Griffen grasps him from behind, twists Big Ben around and he fumbles. Vikings recover without swatting it around nor bouncing it off one of their hips.

Another sack (surprise!), another turnover by Roethlisberger (shocking!), another loss by the Steelers (worst start since 1968!).

“They can’t hear you, Ramsey.”

And now for the good news. At 0-4, the Steelers are just two games out of first place. If they run the table they will win the AFC North, probably earn a bye and have a legit shot at winning their seventh Super Bowl title.

Ahem.

There’s a chance that doesn’t happen. Slightly more likely, on their return stateside, they could lose to the New York Jets to go 0-5 and guarantee one thing.

The next time they appear in Heinz Field, the Steelers will definitely hear you, Ramsey.

(Steve Treu covers The Steelers for The News.)

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