The return of Le'Veon Bell helped. And the Pittsburgh Steelers did make it a game after falling behind 17 points in the fourth quarter.
But they picked a bad time to allow three plays of 51 yards or longer — to the Minnesota Vikings! with only one by Adrian Peterson! — and nearly 400 yards of offense in a 34-27 loss in London's Wembley Stadium.
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Like a timber (timbre in England?), Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger came crashing down with about 10 seconds left, fumbling on a third-down play from the Vikings' 6-yard line down seven points. Everson Griffen sacked Roethlisberger — one of five times he went down on sacks — as the Steelers fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1968.
Simply put, they have not had a game this season where the offense, defense and special teams all have played well together. Sunday was a shocking breakdown on defense, coupled with bad protection of Roethlisberger.
The Steelers could not pressure or affect Vikings backup quarterback Matt Cassell, who completed 16-of-25 for 248 yards and two TDs. Cassel's 123.4 QB rating was the seventh-highest in his career in 63 career starts, and his best mark in a game since 2011 with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Steelers now will have a long, painful bye week to think about what to do next. Fire offensive coordinator Todd Haley? He's not out there, whiffing on blocks. Move on from Roethlisberger after this year? He was out there dealing most of the day, when he had time. Ask Dick LeBeau to retire gracefully? His defense hasn't been the problem until Sunday's breakdowns.
It's maddening and shocking, but the Steelers must find solutions over the next two weeks, or they are heading for a top-10, and maybe a top-five, draft pick.
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