I watched the Steelers' opener at home against the Tennessee Titans in abject horror.
It was basically all downhill for Pittsburgh after the Titans put the only points that would appear on the Steelers' side of scoreboard for the first three quarters by committing a 2-point safety on the opening kickoff. With only three seconds off the clock it was Steelers 2, Titans 0. For most of the game it looked as though the Titans would score Pittsburgh's only points.
Offensively, Pittsburgh spent the first three quarters making brilliant mistakes and mostly getting knocked on their collective ass when attempting to run the ball. Running back Issac Redman chalked up more fumbles than positive rushing yards in the first half. That's an exaggeration, of course, but not by much.
Pittsburgh special teams -- particularly the kick-off squad -- under performed for years when it was given the gift of the NFL rule moving the kickoff team forward, almost ensuring a touchback and offensive start on the 20-yard line. This was a huge advantage for a team that rarely returned a kickoff to the 20-yard line. Of course, turning a positive into a negative, kickoff-return back Markus Wheaton received the ball in the end zone during the Titans' kickoff after one of its field goals, stopped to think about it and then attempted to run the ball out. He got as far as the 8-yard line.
Pittsburgh's offense didn't collect itself sufficiently to score any points until the fourth quarter and then it was too little too late.
The final score: Titans 16; Steelers 9.
The worst loss for the Steelers, though, wasn't the game to the mediocre Titans; it was the loss of center and offensive-line leader Maurkice Pouncey to a season-ending knee injury. Doubling the pain, he was taken out by friendly fire. Yep, another Steeler hit him. Just one more in the comedy of errors that was Pittsburgh's performance.
This won't be the first time I've been accused of being the-glass-is-half-empty guy where the Steelers are concerned, but with the loss of Pouncey and the shaky over-all performance of the offense in game one, I think my fellow Steelers fans and I need to brace ourselves for another season of the defense doing most of the heavy lifting. It will be like the pre-Ben Roethlisberger era when most wins were the result of the defense creating turnovers and keeping the opposing team sufficiently in check to allow the offense to kick enough field goals to win.
But that can happen only if kicker Shaun Suisham is healthy, which he wasn't on Sunday as he suffered with a pulled hamstring.
The only good news -- a gift, really -- for Steelers fans is that the other three teams in its division all lost their openers.
Next week's game is on Monday night in Cincinnati against the Bengals. Cincy is coming off a 24 to 21 loss against the Bears. This is another game the Steelers should win. The four teams in the AFC North play another team in their division next week; so after week two, two teams will have a 1-1 record and two will have a 0-2 record. Steelers need to be on the winning end of the Cincy game. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
I'm going to cross my fingers and think happy thoughts. Go Steelers!