Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tries to toss the ball away before going down on Sunday against the Titans at Heinz Field.
By Bob Smizik Special to the Post-Gazette
In an opening game that was their worst nightmare, the Steelers in general and their offense in particular stunk out the joint at Heinz Field today in an embarrassing 16-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Everyone is fair game for blame in this one, but coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley stand front and center. It's hard to explain a team with an elite quarterback being so flummoxed by such an ordinary opponent.
It does not bode well for the remainder of the season, but it's never a good idea to put too much on one game.
Certainly in this one the Steeelers looked nothing like a playoff contender, and the Super Bowl would appear to be light years away for this team.
There was no explaining the offensive ineptitude, and it goes way beyond the serious knee injury to center Maurkice Pouncey early in the first quarter.
The Steelers scored a late touchdown, with Tennessee dropping back in a prevent defense. With 1:23 remaining Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass to Jerrico Cotchery, but it was not enough and much too late.
Prior to the final drive, Roethlisberger had completed 14 of 24 passes for 131 yards. He threw one interception.
The Steelers could do next to nothing. Roethlisberger was sacked three times in the first half and five times overall.
Roehtlisberger clearly missed his 2012 favorite target, tight end Heath Miller, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury and not expected back for several weeks.
The ground game was particularly invisible, except for the glaring fumble by Isaac Redman as the Steelers were inside the Titans 10 on their first possession of the game. In fairness to Redman, the fumble was a result more of a botched handoff from Roethlisberger.
After that fumble, the Steelers never mounted anything approaching a successful drive until their late score.
The Steelers' only points came in what might have been the fastest score in NFL history. Darius Reynaud caught the kickoff inside the 1-yard line but stepped back into the end zone, believing he had a touchback. Instead, it was a safety, and the Steelers' season looked to be off to a good start.
Then came the nightmare.
For the game, Roethlisberger completed 21 of 33 for 191 yards, as he surpassed the 30,000 mark for his career. He threw one touchdown and one interception.
The only good news is that there are 15 games to go and the Steelers have plenty of opportunity to right themselves. Based on what they showed today, that won't be easy.
The post-game news got worse, much worse, for the Steelers. Pouncey and linebacker Larry Foote are lost for the season.
Pouncey has two torn knee ligaments and Foote a torn bicep.