The Pittsburgh Steelers nearly pulled off a remarkable second-half comeback last weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football. Exactly seven days later, the AFC North club found itself in a even worse situation against one of their division rivals.
The Steelers looked completely outmatched in the first half of Sunday's contest against the Bengals. Pittsburgh had fallen into a 31-3 hole by the time the halftime whistle finally sounded, making for a nearly insurmountable deficit.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was at least partly to blame for the Steelers dismal performance on Sunday. The 39-year-old threw two interceptions in the first half, one of which was returned for a touchdown and the other that led directly to a Cincinnati field goal.
However, Pittsburgh's defense also deserved a large portion of the blame for the massive halftime deficit. The unit had held nine of its ten opponents under 30 points this season, but ceded 31 points in the first half to the Bengals. For the second week in a row, Mike Tomlin's defense couldn't seem to stop anything and allowed Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon to rack up 117 rushing yards and a touchdown in the first two quarters.
NFL Twitter was filled with reactions to the Steelers' awful performance on Sunday. Fans and media members alike tore apart Pittsburgh for its effort and wondered if this was the breaking point for the team's playoff hopes.
Sunday's performance obviously wasn't pretty and the Steelers are well on their way to a 5-5-1 record, but the year isn't completely over for Tomlin and his team. Even with a loss to the Bengals, Pittsburgh will still be right in the mix for a Wild Card playoff spot in the AFC.
That being said, after Sunday's showing, fans won't have much faith in the Steelers to turn things around. Tomlin will need to make quite a few adjustments this upcoming week if Pittsburgh wants right the ship during its final six games.