Turnovers, penalties and Andy Lee black out Steelers

This was a frustrating game no matter which way you look at it. I think the attitude of a lot of Steelers fans heading into this week was that the 49ers weren’t as good as their record. After an ugly 20-3 loss , the same thing will be said about Pittsburgh this week. 

The Steelers offense actually moved the ball very well against a stout 49ers defense. Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 300 yards. Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore had several nice runs. But Roethlisberger threw two early interceptions, both of which killed long drives, and lost a fumble in the 4th quarter. Penalties also hurt the Steelers. It was a sloppy performance on all sides of the ball. 

That’s what is most troubling about this loss. The Steelers were banged up coming into the game and I didn’t expect them to win on the road against a good opponent. But the reason they lost this game is because of mental errors, poor coaching and a lack of execution. It has little to do with Roethlisberger’s injury.

A few lowlights:

-B- Mike Tomlin’s awful time management at the end of the 1st half. The Steelers had a chance to put some points on the board, but pissed away precous seconds before throwing a pass in bounds that ended the half. They opted not to attempt a long field goal attempt or throwing a Hail Mary. They waved the white flag. 

-B- Jim Harbaugh is just as annoying as his brother. 

-B-  Alex Smith looked a lot like Joe Flacco toinght. And not the Joe Flacco that completes 50% of his passes…the Joe Flacco who plays against like Tom Brady against the Steelers.  Pittsburgh played a soft zone coverage in the seondary early and often and Smith took advantage of it, throwing 8-yard outs up and down the field. San Francisco’s offense looked very similar to Baltimore’s. Inferior receivers were given free release by the cornerbacks. 

-B- Max Starks looked lost trying to block Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. One of the only good surprises of the night was that Roethlisberger was still in one piece.

-B-  The last time the Steelers didn’t score a tochdown in a game was December 10, 2009.  

-B- Last time the Steelers scored 3 points: November 26, 2007 against Miami in the swamp of Heinz Field

-B-  Thumbs down to the officials, who called a bizarre penalty on Lawrence Timmons that allowed the 49ers to clinch the game midway through the 4th. They also screwed up a muffed punt by San Francisco while the game was still in reach. Don’t get it twisted, though, the officials weren’t nearly as miserable as the Steelers players.

-B-  Steelers are now a minus-11 for the year in turnover differential. No way a team that coughs the ball up that much is going far in the playoffs. It has to stop. 

-B-  Oh, and the power went out twice during the night.

-B-  With St. Louis and Cleveland next on the schedule, this will likely be the last test the Steelers have the rest of the way. Baltimore plays Cleveland and is at Cincinatti to close out the year. The division race isn’t over yet.