Tim Benz: For Steelers, what a waste! |

Tim Benz: For Steelers, what a waste!

Tim Benz
Getty Images
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster dives for the ball but is unable to complete a reception against the Broncos in the third quarter Nov. 25, 2018 in Denver, Colo.

We’re a day removed from that Pittsburgh Steelers loss in Denver, and I’m still mad about it. I keep coming back to one thought.

What a waste!

There was so much good in that game wasted by a few fatal flaws that it should make every Steelers fan angry to see an “L” next to that game on the schedule for the rest of the year.

Coach Mike Tomlin wants you to believe the only thing that went wrong in Colorado on Sunday was the turnover ratio.

If you want to believe that, go right ahead. Lap up that healthy serving of coach speak.

Based on my Twitter timeline, a shocking number of you are doing just that and asking for seconds.

Pinning the loss exclusively on the four turnovers — with no takeaways in return — is just a way for the Steelers coaches and their fans to avoid talking about the other sins committed in that game.

Oh, the turnovers were the biggest problem. No doubt.

However, there were dropped passes. Blocked kicks. Horrible red-zone play calling. Those were all big issues, too. Not ” minutiae ” as Tomlin described.

All those factors laid waste to some positive components of the Steelers’ performance that we should’ve been celebrating Monday morning.

There were some great individual efforts. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 462 yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster had 189 yards receiving and a touchdown. Chukwuma Okorafor was far better than anyone had a right to expect in his first start — against Pro Bowler Von Miller, no less.

There were some spectacular plays. Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster hooked up for a 97-yard score.

On that play, Antonio Brown made a great block during Smith-Schuster’s run. Plus, he made another fantastic toe-tap catch earlier in the game.

Then there were the wasted trick plays. There was the one that didn’t work. That was Brown’s rolling throw back across the field in the first quarter.

Then there was the one that did work: Chris Boswell’s fake field goal throw to Alejandro Villanueva.

We should’ve been doing nothing but talking about that play all day Monday. Instead, we were debating what Xavier Grimble was thinking when he decided to brace for contact from Will Parks at the goal line.

We should’ve been talking about how the Steelers stayed ahead of the New England Patriots for the second seed in the AFC and a bye. Instead, that playoff positioning was wasted, and the Steelers may need to win an extra game where they may be underdogs — like against the Patriots or New Orleans Saints next month — to get that slot back.

We could’ve been discussing James Conner’s redemption from an earlier fumble, and Roosevelt Nix getting inserted into the game plan once more. That’s if the Steelers had done the smart thing and stayed practical at the goal line in that final sequence.

Simply giving the ball to Conner and letting him plow into the end zone behind Nix and Maurkice Pouncey would’ve been preferable to that overly intricate run-pass option that led to the goal-line interception by Shelby Harris in the game’s waning moments.

We may have been applauding rookie wide receiver James Washington finally making a contribution.

Unfortunately, he decided that pass down the sideline from Roethlisberger was a good time to replicate being a kid jumping off his tree house and pretending that he had sprouted wings.

It all was wasted. Much like a chance for conference victory. Much like the tie in Cleveland to start the season.

All that is more than “minutiae.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.