5 Smoldering Questions: The Post-Ravens Pre-Dallas Edition

by Hombre de Acero

The Steelers AFC North showdown in Baltimore did not go as we’d hoped, leaving Ben Roethlisberger on the outside looking in when playing in Charm City since 2010.

The loss drops the Steelers 4-4, and if social media is a guide, much of Steelers Nation has the Black and Gold written off as the worst 4-4 team in NFL history.

This week brings the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys to Heinz Field, but before we can get to that, this corner of Steelers Nation must grapple with these 5 Smoldering Questions.

1. Steelers Nation saw two Ben Roethlisbergers play on Sunday. One channeled his inner Mark Malone for three and a half quarters, and another who looked like Ben. Was there any substance to that 4th quarter “surge” or was it merely “Garbage Time Glory?”

2. Chris Boswell’s botched on-side kick caused an uproar in Steelers Nation. Yet, Boswell had pulled off a simpler “side step on sides” kick in college. Was the Boswell Side Step on-side kick a case of a poor play call or of botched execution?

3. Speaking of Chis Boswell, our own Rebecca Rollett has been looking into the psychology of kickers quite intently. We’ve now seen Boswell miss critical kicks in one game, and mess up a surprise on-sides kick in another. Is anyone worried about Boswell’s confidence?

4. Jim Wexell has suggested that one of the reasons why Ben Roethlisberger’s first games back from injuries go so badly is that he tries to come back too soon. Anyone wish to second guess Mike Tomlin’s decision to go with Number 7?

And a bonus quarterback question:

5. With a little bit of distance from the game, two statistics stand out as we look at the Landry Jones start against New England:  13 and 11.

13 points is the average margin of the Steelers losses to New England with Ben Roethlisberger starting. 11 points was the margin with Landry Jones under center.

Does that tell you anything, or is it just a factoid?


  • 1. I think there was a bit of the Garbage time glory, but I also think it was more that he started to click and get other receivers involved instead of looking almost exclusively to brown before dumping off to bell.

    2. I would say botched execution. An onside kick is a very low percentage play as it is. If he has proven he can do that in a game situation before, why not try it.

    3. I am not worried about it. Rarely is a kicker perfect for the season.

    4. I agree. He didn’t seem himself for most of the game. 20/20 hindsight and all would say he should just stay out another game and come back great. But it was a ravens he came back for. Can’t fault them there.

    5. I think just a factoid. 11 or 13 points is not enough of a discrepancy for the sample size.


  • I won’t answer the questions which implied I watched the game, because I still haven’t had the chance.

    2. I’m with mtsnot. It looked pretty good in the video…

    3. Actually, I really am worried, and I will be writing more on the subject….

    4. Preliminary looks at the data indicate that something is going on. I have many theories, which I will also be writing about…

    5. Again with mtsnot. Too little data.


  • I’ve come back from as many injuries as Ben during his career, and some I just as bad (minus the Buick incident), and I always come back too early also. No way to know if you don’t go out there.
    I think the fact that you have Brown and an injured Coates, then some guys playing WR may have something to do with the O’s issues. Toss in some OL injuries and 4-4 is what you get.
    It appears the OL is coming around (minus Pouncy’s thumb), but Bryant will not, and Wheaton looks to be in doubt also. DHB? No idea how bad his foot injury is but WR’s sort of need those. Coates’ finger will heal, but how about his confidence?
    A fully ish healthy D seemed OK, but it looks as if we are never going to see both units even close to full strength until hopefully next season.
    Darn shame too, Ben only has so many years left.


  • 1. It was a combination of garbage time and substance. It took him a while to get back his mojo, with muscle memory and timing being instinctive to such a degree. He was unwatchable up to the fourth quarter, missing stuff that he never misses. That ended at a time when Baltimore may have softened up the defense, giving up the dinks and dunks.

    2.Botched execution. Something similar worked for Boz in college. But at least he’ll be on the blooper reels like forever.

    3.He’ll be fine. Don’t overthink this.

    4. He definitely comes back too soon. The delta between his first game back and the second game is waaay too big. Simply because he’s able to go out there and perform doesn’t mean he’s able to go out there and perform up to his own standards. An injury serious enough to make you miss a game will affect your muscle memory and your timing. It takes time to get those back. It clearly took Ben three quarters to get them back last week. If he can’t practice during the first part of the week, it may be best to either sit him or bring him in off the bench.(I know that’s counter-intuitive, but it’s worked before)

    5. Factoid. SSS


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