The All-Out Blitz - When Ben is average, so are Steelers

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When Ben is average, so are Steelers

It's time to face the truth.

People, your Steelers are average (and that's being kind).

The Ravens own the AFC North, with two division titles in two years.

The Bengals are going to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

The Steelers?

They are just along for the ride, either missing the playoffs or going one-and-done in the postseason four times since coach Mike Tomlin took over in 2007.

Tomlin took his Steelers to two Super Bowls, and that's tough to do and shouldn't be minimized.

But since losing to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011, the Steelers did the following:

-- Allowed themselves to be carved up by Tim Tebow (the quarterback no one wants) in last season's playoffs.

-- Followed that up with a 7-8 record (or worse, depending on how interested they will be next week against the Browns).

-- Watched quarterback Ben Roethlisberger crumble in crunch time.

Their best player let them down again Sunday, and that should bother Steelers fans more than anything. If they can't count on Roethlisberger, who has thrown game-losing interceptions in each of the past two games, they can't count on anyone, and they can't count on the playoffs. The 13-10 loss to the Bengals on Sunday at Heinz Field eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention.

It was clear that the Steelers wouldn't be the same this season, with veterans James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Hines Ward retiring and the team as a whole losing its identity.

Was it a team leaning on its defense? For much of the season, the answer was no because the Steelers don't create enough turnovers. Cortez Allen's two interceptions Sunday were only the second and third by a cornerback all season.

Was it a running team? Not with Rashard Mendenhall either nursing injuries or going AWOL, and Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman looking decidedly unremarkable.

Was it Ben's team? That's what everyone thought, but he proved to be human, especially when his offensive line is full of holes.

Bottom line:

The Steelers aren't good enough when Ben is anything less than great.

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