There is substantial inherent risk in trying to explain the inexplicable, but on an NFL Sunday when the Steelers set perhaps the perpetual standard for misadventures in risk management, the official explanation for a season-opening loss to the non-descript Tennessee Titans was perfectly preposterous.
Operating with a fully formed game plan for the first time this summer, the Todd Haley offense toppled like a doomed Jenga tower when a backup offensive lineman who was to be deployed as a tight end had to play center for most of the game.
"We had a big package with [Kelvin] Beachum at tight end, like you saw in preseason," said wideout Jerricho Cotchery, who scored the only Steelers touchdown after about 90 percent of Heinz Field had emptied in evident revulsion. "So now with [Maurkice] Pouncey out, he's got to go to center, so that takes out some plays, but at the end of the day, you have to adjust. Injuries happen.
"Coaches tell us all the time, the next man has to be ready to go in. Whatever package is going to be yelled, we have to get the job done."
So Cotchery stopped well short of asking where the adjustments were from the sidelines, from upstairs, from the guys who are always preaching responsibility.
"Our plan could have been better under the circumstances," said Mike Tomlin, who lost his first home opener after six consecutive successes. "Obviously, we had intended on using Kelvin Beachum some at tight end. When he had to go in at center, that changed. We didn't adjust well enough. I take responsibility for that."
The head coach needn't beat himself up, because all the way up and down the football operation the Steelers have mismanaged the tight end and running backs situation so severely that their battle plans are either transparent or nonsensical.
Sunday they celebrated nine consecutive regular-season games without a 100-yard rusher and, to properly mark the occasion, they went the full 60 minutes Sunday without so much as a 20-yard rusher.
They had no rushing first downs, the Steelers.
Let me just type that again to see if my keyboard jams.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had no rushing first downs.
I saw Jerome Bettis in the hallway behind the press box right after the game. For some reason, he was not weeping.
"We just didn't get enough going with any of the backs," Tomlin said. "The game circumstances dictated that we do some things, no-huddle and so forth. [Felix Jones] has been here for a short period of time. That maybe had an effect on our utilization of him, particularly down the stretch. But just largely [on the running backs], not good enough."
Technically, it's not correct to say Tomlin got nothing from his backs, because he got something - namely the worst performance in memory going back to at least 1989 and the Tim Worley-fueled 51-0 beating by the Browns, also in a home opener.
Starter Isaac Redman's output: 8 carries, 9 yards, 2 fumbles (1 into the end zone for a turnover), 1 missed block leading to a Zach Brown sack of Ben Roethlisberger.
Leading rusher LaRod Stephens-Howling (19 yards on six carries) also blew a blocking assignment that led to a Brown sack. Jones, signed because management had an uneasy suspicion the running backs cupboard was bare with top pick Le'Veon Bell hobbling, somehow did not warrant so much as one handoff Sunday. Last year's leading rusher, Jonathan Dwyer, was released only nine days ago.
But let's be fair: The passing game stunk as well.
"I don't make excuses," said Roethlisberger, preparing to bite off a series of short sentences that matched Haley's pass routes. "It just wasn't good enough. No excuses. I didn't play good enough. Not good enough, point blank."
This all came against a defense that allowed more points than any team in the league a year ago, a defense that finished 26th against the pass, a defense that Sunday failed to reinforce the gospel that as long as the Steelers have Roethlisberger around, they'll be competitive.
The Titans were perfectly willing to help, falling behind faster than probably any team in football history - three seconds. They were behind, 2-0, when their return man Darius Reynaud returned the opening kickoff to his own end zone and took a knee. Ironically, at that point, the Steelers were on pace to win 2,400-0.
Didn't hold up, just like everything else. Just like Pouncey's knee and Larry Foote's biceps and a fleet of other Steelers body parts that went to the sideline in a 2013 season that opened with over-the-top violence.
Injuries happen, mistakes get made, but not too many game plans come apart because of a displaced backup offensive lineman, just like not too many teams would set up in a spread formation from the opponent's 4 and whip a flat pass to Isaac Redman because not one of the wideouts is in the end zone.
Of all the elements of this opener that were so theatrically bad, none was a demonstrably awful as the Steelers coaching, but the responsibility for 0-1 splashed in every direction.
Gene Collier: email@example.com.