Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Time for a Reality Check in the Wake of the Offensive Crash-And- Burn vs. Jets, There Is One Big Question: Which Offense Is the Real One?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Time for a Reality Check in the Wake of the Offensive Crash-And- Burn vs. Jets, There Is One Big Question: Which Offense Is the Real One?

Article excerpt

Many looked to tag a nickname on the high-flying Steelers offense after Ben Roethlisberger made history by throwing 12 touchdown passes in victories against the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens by a combined, 94-57 score.

Air Ben! Airways to 7! Haley's Comets!

Here's one: Sybil, based on its multiple personalities.

The Steelers offense that looked mellow at the Meadowlands, scoring one measly touchdown and only with 1:16 left in a 20-13 upset loss against the lowly New York Jets, was called many things by Sunday night, none of them complimentary.

Maybe those two games against the Colts and Ravens were an aberration. Maybe the real Steelers offense was the one from Sunday, similar to the offense that scored one touchdown Oct. 5 at Jacksonville and one touchdown (with 2:36 left) in a 31-10 loss Oct. 12 at Cleveland. Or the one that scored no touchdowns Sept. 11 in Baltimore.

How does an offense go from scoring 94 points and 12 touchdowns with no turnovers in consecutive games to no touchdowns for 58 minutes and 44 seconds against a depleted Jets secondary that had allowed 24 touchdown passes, six more than anyone else?

"When you look at that, that's hard to really digest right there," guard Ramon Foster said as the Steelers reported back to work Monday at their UPMC training facility. "When you say that, it's supposed to happen when you have that going on. At least half that! If we score three touchdowns, we win the game. That's as simple as it breaks down right there."

No one could or wanted to explain it, although in simple terms it could just be that the quarterback had a bad day. They were so desperate that they put linebacker James Harrison into the backfield on offense for two plays at the Jets 1. Harrison had never before been used on offense in his 12 seasons in the NFL.

Turning the ball over four times to none for the Jets is as simple an explanation as it gets for losing, but there were reasons for those four turnovers, and the Jets came away with only seven points off those turnovers.

"They gave us a bunch of different looks," wide receiver Lance Moore said. "I'm not going to say they reinvented the wheel of defense against us. They did some different things."

Getting just three points on three trips from the 10 and in hurt them, too. One opportunity was lost on a missed 23-yard field goal and another on an interception.

"Absolutely, you get inside the red zone, you want to be able to get points," Moore said. "When you don't do so, a lot of times it comes back to haunt you."

Whatever the Jets did on defense, the Steelers offense could expect to see future opponents copy them.

"We've shown we can put up points, we've done it," Foster said. "For whatever reasons, it just didn't happen this past weekend.

"It wasn't an out-of-hand type of game. If we score seven points [instead of a second-quarter interception at the goal line], it's an even-type game at that point. …

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