The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't want to wait for December to give the Cleveland Browns their Christmas presents.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for fans of the Steelers this past month, the offense lost the ball on five fumbles and three interceptions in a 20-14 loss against the Browns on Sunday.
It's incredible how different of a team the Steelers are without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center. After losing Big Ben in Week 10 against the Chiefs and then losing second stringer Byron Leftwich last week to the Ravens, the Steelers turned to the undeniably rusty 37-year-old third stringer Charlie Batch on Sunday who ended up posting a measly QBR of 20.8.
The Steelers have failed to score a passing touchdown in 10 straight quarters of play. However, Batch wasn't the worst part of the Steelers offense on Sunday.
All four Steelers running backs (Mendenhall,Redman,Rainey,Dwyer) shared one common thread in Sunday's abysmal loss: they all fumbled. They also combined for an uncharacteristic 49 yards on the ground. Just what team is this?
The only bright spot — if there is such a thing — for the Steelers this week was their defense.
The Browns offense gained fantastic field position after the constant turnovers during the afternoon but the defense only allowed two TDs on the day. The longest drive for the Browns went for only 44 yards and it ended with a field goal. During the final five drives of the game, Dick Lebeau's defense only gave up eight yards. Actually, the defense even gave the ball back twice to their offense in the fourth quarter but they obviously failed to deliver.
It's incredible the game was as close as it was given the amount of poor play from the offense; but make no mistake, if this type of play continues next week against the first place Ravens with Big Ben out of the lineup, the 6-5 Steelers are done.
"We have to get ourselves together in a hurry and figure out a way to get some wins," said tight end Heath Miller.
The bottom line is that the Steelers are a playoff team when a healthy Big Ben is starting.
Without Big Ben they are just as good as the Chiefs.
Zachary Hutton is the lead boxing writer and an NFL contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can see what he's up to at his band's website myunclethewolf.com or also subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: getty