Remember back to the 2009 season, when the Steelers seemed to lose in one annoying way after another? Well, that's kind of how I felt around 8pm on Sunday, when Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 40 yard field goal as time expired to give Oakland a 34-31 victory.
That '09 team was never out of a game, and often, they led in the fourth quarter, but if it wasn't an ill-timed turnover that did the team in, it was a kickoff return for a touchdown. And if Pittsburgh was able to overcome those two things, the defense picked the fourth quarter to do its impression of swiss cheese.
The 2009 Steelers season was maybe the most frustrating for me as a fan, and the end result of all of those break-downs I described above was a 9-7 record and a seat in the peanut gallery for the playoffs.
The 2010 campaign was obviously pretty awesome, as the team made its 8th Super Bowl and came within a drive of winning its 7th Lombardi. And last season's 12-4 record was an acceptable follow-up to a Super Bowl season, despite the depressing loss in the playoffs.
But now at 1-2, things look like they've come full-circle to what we were seeing three years ago. But unlike the '09 team, I don't really blame the offense, or even the special teams for their mistakes on Sunday. I blame the defense, because it's just not getting the job done in terms of pressuring the quarterback and taking the football away.
When Bruce Arians was Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator for five seasons, people said they wanted an offense that possessed the football and scored points, and they often blamed Arians for his shortcomings in those departments--Pittsburgh led the league in time of possession last season, btw. Well, under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the Steelers have scored 77 points in three games, and they've possessed the football for just under 36 minutes a game. Yet, they're 1-2.
I know Harrison and Polamalu have been hurt this season, but there is still enough pedigree on this defense to make a better accounting of itself, even without two former Defensive Players of the Year.
I know it's early, but it already has the makings for another annoyingly frustrating Steelers season.