Watching Phil Rivers, aka King Laserface, move the Chargers offense of super-soldiers down the field effortlessly again and again in the 4th quarter versus the Stillers brought a big smile to my face. And even though the Stillers failed in their 4th consecutive attempt to blow a game where they had a lead, it still seems as if something may be awry in "Football Town USA".
So I went to the usual source for answers; the trusty nerdery at Football Outsiders. Here's some science from them that should give Bengals fans a little bit of hope:
They [Pittsburgh] are also the first team whose defensive DVOA went up over 40 percentage points between one season and the first four games of the next season. You also might notice that none of these teams really got back their defensive mojo...
The point is that Pittsburgh has experienced the biggest fall in performance of a defense as measured by FO from one season to the start of the next. Importantly, the poor performance in the first 4 weeks continued throughout the season for teams that experienced huge drops like Pitt.
Well, of course, there's one huge caveat.
Of course, none of these teams had a player like Troy Polamalu who was injured in the first game but was expected back for most of the season.
So there's also the possibility that Troy Polamalu is such a force that simply losing him caused Pitt's defense to take a historic free-fall. At which point, when he returns, the Stillers will go back to being the Stillers.
But, of course, Troy can't be that good such that the entire decline of their defense is explained by his absence alone? I mean, the Bengals lost Justin Smith (Justin Smith!), bull rusher extraordinaire and mega-franchise player, and we didn't miss a beat...