New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The moment the Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff chances came to an end was pretty simple to spot.
With just over nine minutes left in the game on a running clock, trailing by only four points, the Steelers seemingly had Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler sandwiched in the pocket for a sack on third-and-10 deep in his own territory.
With LaMarr Woodley coming hard from the left and Lawrence Timmons bull-rushing from the right, they appeared set to meet up around the 17 with Cutler dead on their arrival.
Funny thing happened on the way to that quarterback sack, forced punt and inevitable game-winning drive by Ben Roethlisberger in the final minutes to save the season for the Black-and-Gold.
Cutler stepped up. Figuratively and literally.
Known more for his hot bride than his fast stride, Cutler nevertheless used his wheels to seal Chicago’s victory by eluding the would-be sackers. He stepped up in the pocket and darted 12 yards for a first down, leveling safety Robert Golden at the end of the play to add insult to insult.
Says here the Steelers would have won this game had either Woodley or Timmons gotten a paw on Cutler and brought him down.
Says there, however, that a few plays later we witnessed a pass into the end zone, a Bears challenge, an overturned call and blah blah blah, Chicago ends up winning, 40-23.
Cutler, who married reality TV star Kristin Cavallari earlier this year, threw for only 159 yards but committed no turnovers, compared to 406 yards and four turnovers for his counterpart, fairly clearly illustrating how important taking care of the ball is.
Want some more reality TV, Big Ben?
It’s only September but we already know that you will be watching the entire postseason from your living room again this year.
During the first half it seemed as if Pittsburgh had mailed it in already, falling behind 24-3 midway through the second quarter following Major Wright’s pick-6 for the Bears.
But, the Steelers showed a pulse for perhaps the first time this season, clawing back to get within 27-23 early in the fourth quarter. Antonio Brown had a monster game, with nine catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
They had all the momentum … until Cutler’s fancy footwork did them in.
Now they are a dubious 0-3 for the first time since 2000 and are facing a tremendous climb back to respectability, never mind becoming just the sixth team since 1978 to began the season with a three-game losing streak and still qualify for the playoffs.
(Steelers fans can take solace in the fact that the only other team to win a pair of Super Bowls in the last eight years, the New York Giants, also are 0-3. These things happen to even the best of franchises.)
Considering how awful this start has been, just winning one game might be a feat for the Steelers. Their next chance will be across the pond Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Hmmm, perhaps the Steelers should follow Cleveland’s strategy for that contest, trading their best player a few days before meeting up with Minnesota.
Worked for the Browns, who confused the heavily-favored and overconfident Vikes, pulling out a last-second victory yesterday.
Of course, Cleveland also started their third-string quarterback in that game.
Landry Jones anyone?
Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea at all.
(Steve Treu covers the Steelers for The News.)