By Christina Rivers
The late rally at Wembley Stadium in London against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday just didn’t go quite far enough to give the Pittsburgh Steelers their first win of the 2013 NFL Season. Knocking on the door to tie the game with seconds left in regulation, the Steelers watched as left tackle Mike Adams blew his blocking assignment and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fell to the turf, sacked and stripped of the ball.
Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell had an outstanding debut, but his two rushing touchdowns weren’t enough to get the team on top. News that Steelers legend L.C. Greenwood, a member of the famed ‘Steel Curtain’ defense, passed away took the wind out of many sails. At 0-4, the Steelers need the bye week to collect themselves and try to find answers for their woes in order to get back to winning ways.
Despite unsubstantiated rumors that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be firing offensive coordinator Todd Haley this week, the Steelers showed that, being at full strength, the offense has improved. Roethlisberger completed 36-of-51 passes for 383 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Le’Veon Bell was able to step up and give the Steelers much-needed rushing yards right away. Bell took the 34-27 loss badly. “The two touchdowns don’t mean anything to me,” said Bell. “I needed three.” Bell was the first rookie to rush for two touchdowns in a game for the Steelers since Bam Morris (Dec. 4, 1994 against the Cincinnati Bengals).
The offense slowly built as the game progressed, getting into a rhythm that hadn’t been evident in their first three of the season. The game got away from them. “We did some good things,” said Roethlisberger after the game. “I felt like we made strides on offense. It’s hard to say that and feel very good about yourself after a loss.”
Poor performance on the left side of the offensive line and the loss of Ramon Foster due to a chest injury showed that Mike Adams has a lot to learn about moving his feet and keeping defenders out of his own backfield. With Foster out, Kelvin Beachum saw more time on the offensive line. Foster had stepped up to take on a leadership role and when he exited, the line looked a bit lost. When asked why Mike Adams was allowed to continue to play, head coach Mike Tomlin answered, “Anybody else we would have put in there would have been below the line of preparation, so there’s no answers in that regard. [Adams has] got to do a better job. We have to do a better job of helping him schematically.”
Dick LeBeau is also being asked to kick a few defensive players in the rear after getting beat on deep plays, losing track of assignments and poor tackling. Tomlin addressed the need for improvement in all aspects of Steelers football. “Obviously…we are going to focus on getting better,” said Tomlin. It’s an ominous reference that was repeated by Tomlin, “As long as I see belief and effort and continued improvement in detail, because that’s what’s going to change the outcome of these games. Those that don’t, they won’t be a part of it, whoever it may be. It’s just that simple.”
Injuries were minimal following the loss to the Vikings. Foster has a pectoral injury. Roethlisberger has an injured index finger after his throwing arm went forward in the game and hit the hand of an oncoming defender. Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith has a left quad injury and linebacker Kion Wilson a hamstring issue. Receiver Markus Wheaton broke a finger but returned to the game, as did Roethlisberger. “We had regular bumps and bruises and so forth,” said Tomlin, “and obviously have got an off-week that is much needed. We have to go to the lab and work and get better. That’s what we intend to do.”
In an official statement, Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney and President Art Rooney II discussed the loss of L.C. Greenwood:
“L.C. Greenwood was one of the all-time great Steelers and one of the leaders of the legendary “Steel Curtain” defense in the 1970s. L.C. was one of the most beloved Steelers during the most successful period in team history and he will be missed by the entire organization. He will be forever remembered for what he meant to the Steelers both on and off the field. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family.”
There is work to be done and the Steelers don’t have blinders on. They need improvement immediately. There is no doubt that after game tape is viewed, changes will be made. Whether the Steelers can take advantage of the bye week is yet to be seen. The Steelers will visit the New York Jets on Sunday, October 13, hoping to have utilized an extra week of ironing out wrinkles in order to jump start a stagnant season.
For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on