PITTSBURGH — The game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals was delayed twice for nearly two hours. Maybe they were waiting for the Steelers to show up.
Facing the lowly 2-10 Cardinals, the Steelers looked disjointed and disconnected from the beginning, making mistake after mistake, committing penalties, turning the ball over and failing to capitalize on opportunities in what became a 24-10 loss that was even more lopsided than the final score indicated.
The Steelers did everything you can’t do in a football game. They made mental mistakes (two illegal formations on offense, a timeout for being a player short in the huddle and a too many men penalty on defense).
They took penalties in big moments. Elandon Roberts took a personal foul on a third down that gave the Cardinals three points. Joey Porter Jr. committed defensive pass interference on another that led to a touchdown when the Cardinals would have kicked a field goal. Special teams captain Miles Killebrew had three penalties — two of them personal fouls.
They turned the ball over, with Mason Cole’s bad snap unable to be corralled and resulting in a Cardinals touchdown.
And they didn’t take advantage of weighty situations. The Steelers got the ball first and goal, and all the way down to 4th and 1, and couldn’t score. Chris Boswell missed his first sub-60 yard field goal of the season.
Then the injuries piled up. The Steelers lost starters Kenny Pickett (right ankle), Isaac Seumalo (shoulder) and Elandon Roberts (groin). The Roberts injury had them playing their fourth and fifth options at linebacker, and it showed, with Arizona tight end Trey McBride going off with eight catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Old friend James Conner rumbled for 105 yards on 25 carries and two scores, as the beat-up Steelers defense couldn’t get off the field enough to keep their early success in bottling up the Arizona offense going.
The running game did fine, especially early, with Najee Harris (16 carries for 63 yards) and Jaylen Warren (nine carries for 59 yards) doing their part.
But the passing game with or without Pickett, could never get going. Pickett finished 7 of 10 for 70 yards. Trubisky was 11 of 17 for 117 and the lost fumble.
The changes to the Steelers offense that seemed so impressive against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13 did not seem to stick — or at least they weren’t able to overcome the Steelers’ own mistakes.
With the loss, the Steelers fell to 7-5 and dropped out of second place in the AFC North. They will have to respond on a short week when the New England Patriots visit on Thursday.