Bruce Arians wants to make clear who should be blamed for what happened in the ugly loss in Philadelphia: It wasn't the offensive line that gave up nine sacks, or the quarterback who turned the ball over three times, or the receivers who didn't pick up the hot reads.
Arians said he is to blame for the performance of his offense, which even wide receiver Hines Ward said looked "confused" in a 10-6 loss to the Eagles.
"It's Bruce Arians' fault," the Steelers' offensive coordinator said. "Just spell my name right."
Arians' comments came as he was walking off the practice field yesterday and in the wake of several days of criticism in which head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff were blamed for not being prepared for the defensive blitzes by the Eagles -- a team known for such tactics under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.
Many of the players, even Tomlin, said the Eagles often blitzed more defenders than the Steelers were prepared to block, creating confusion in the offensive line. Even when they picked up the right player, Tomlin said, his players often lost the physical one-on-one battles.
The result: eight sacks against Ben Roethlisberger, who fumbled twice, was intercepted once and was called for a safety on an intentional-grounding penalty in the end zone. Byron Leftwich also was sacked once when he replaced Roethlisberger late in the fourth quarter.
"I'll say this: If anybody is still trying to look for a story about Philadelphia and who to blame, just spell my name correctly so [the] Philadelphia [game] can go to bed," Arians said. "Anybody who wants anybody to blame for Philadelphia, you just blame me, and then we can get ready for Baltimore," a reference to the Monday night game at Heinz Field against the Baltimore Ravens.
Asked why he is accepting the blame, Arians said, "Because I'm the offensive coordinator. I call the plays. They don't work, it's [my fault]. Don't ask any more players questions about Philadelphia. They need to think about Baltimore.
"It's all on me and it's over. So you don't have to ask any more players or anybody else."
The Steelers rushed for only 33 yards on 19 carries against the Eagles -- Willie Parker tied his career low with 20 yards on 13 carries -- and converted just 2 of 13 third-down opportunities.
Roethlisberger, the NFL's passer-rating leader, completed 13 of 25 passes for 131 yards for a 50.6 rating. His longest pass play was 16 yards.
When told of Arians' comments, Tomlin said, "Hey, if that's his statement, I'm sure he stands by it. I'm less concerned about that and more concerned about making corrections and getting ready to play this weekend. That's in our rear-view mirror. We can waste all our time talking about what happened in Philadelphia or we can waste time patting ourselves on the back for what happened against the Houston Texans. We leave it behind and we move forward."
Nonetheless, Tomlin said he plans to have Arians scale back the number of offensive plays for the Ravens to make sure there is less confusion on offense.
"It's a philosophical belief I have: When you're not on your screws and you have multiple people working together, you reduce to make sure people are on the same page so you have that understanding and confidence," Tomlin said. "Then you go back to what you were doing or go back to expanding. That's the philosophy we're taking."
But, just because the Steelers are using a limited offense doesn't mean their problems on the offensive line will be corrected, especially against the Ravens' No. 1-ranked defense.
"You still have to block people," Arians said. "You can correct them, but those one-on-one matchups are tough, and they're tough this week. I mean, Trevor Pryce and Terrell Suggs, they're big-time pass rushers."
Gerry Dulac can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1466. First Published September 26, 2008 4:00 AM