Because the Pittsburgh Steelers are always competitive, maybe everyone overestimated the hits their offense took since last season.
In retrospect, losing Mike Wallace in the offseason, and having Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell out with injuries to start the year were major issues. As was losing Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey to a knee injury, reported to be a ACL, in the first quarter. That's a lot to overcome, even for the rock-solid Steelers.
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After the Steelers took a 2-0 lead from a fluky safety on the opening kickoff, everything went wrong. The Steelers were stuck on two points for more than 58 minutes. And the Titans, who were 6-10 last season, came into Pittsburgh and pulled off the 16-9 upset.
The Steelers will have a long week of reflection, especially when it comes to their offense, and specifically the running game.
If you want to name a goat for the Steelers, running back Isaac Redman is your guy. Jonathan Dwyer looked pretty good in the preseason, but he was cut. Felix Jones was rumored to be in line for a big role, but the Steelers went with Redman as their starter. It would have been rookie Bell, but he's out with a foot injury. That injury and the decision to turn to Redman ended up being a nightmare for the Steelers.
Redman gained 9 yards on eight carries. On the Steelers' first drive, when the Titans were on their heels from that weird safety, Redman fumbled at the 5-yard line, and the Titans fell on the rolling ball in the end zone.
The Steelers haven't been a grind-it-out running team for a few years. They've been a passing team with Ben Roethlisberger for a while. But they have usually had the threat of a decent running game. There was none on Sunday against a Titans team that isn't known for a great defense.
And without Wallace and Miller, Roethlisberger wasn't that great either. Getting sacked five times behind a line that didn't have Pouncey was one of his problems. Roethlisberger was 21-of-33 for 191 yards, and didn't get the Steelers in the end zone until 1:23 was left in the game and the Titans led by two scores.
The schedule doesn't get easier for the Steelers. The next two games are against the Bengals and Bears, two of the league's better defenses. If the Steelers don't cobble together some kind of a running game (which will be very difficult without Pouncey, one of their best players) or figure out how to replace Wallace and Miller, it could be a pretty long September.