Former Steeler Ryan Clark Rips His Old Team on ESPN: ‘Who Can They Beat?’

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: Ryan Clark’s harsh assessment of the Steelers, a video showing Charlie Woods looking just like his dad and more.
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He’s fed up

After jumping out to the best start in the NFL, the Steelers are in free fall. 

Pittsburgh’s 11–0 start no longer looks so impressive after dropping three straight to Washington, the Bills and, on Monday night, the Bengals. Three turnovers, paired with an inability to get anything going on offense, were enough to let a team quarterbacked by Ryan Finley beat the division leaders. 

Ben Roethlisberger, who, according to an Adam Schefter report earlier on Monday, intends to play an 18th season next year, played like a guy who should be thinking about hanging them up. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 170 yards and was responsible for all three Steelers turnovers (a pick, a fumble and a pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster that set JuJu up to get blasted by a defender and cough up the ball). 

After looking like Super Bowl contenders earlier in the season, the Steelers are limping toward the finish line right now. Nobody can feel good about their playoff aspirations right now, not even a guy who used to play for the team. 

After the game, former Steelers defensive back and current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark appeared on SportsCenter to give his thoughts on Pittsburgh’s skid. He didn’t hold back. 

“Kenny, who can they beat? You tell me, who can they beat?” Clark said. “Can they beat the Colts? No. Can they beat the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs? No. Can they beat the Cleveland Browns? We know they can’t beat the Kansas City Chiefs. We know they can’t beat the Buffalo Bills. We look at this team play offense, they are playing at such a deficit each game, there’s no way that they’ll win.

“Tonight, they were getting stopped behind the line. You couldn’t convert third-and-ones, fourth-and-ones. The pass game was inefficient. There weren’t drops but there were the incompletions, the were passes that were blown up, the interceptions by the Cincinnati Bengals. They made the Cincinnati Bengals look like an All-Pro, Pro Bowl–caliber defense and they haven’t been that all year. 

“And so you think when you’re playing the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buffalo Bills, the Cleveland Browns, some of the better teams in the AFC, that the Pittsburgh Steelers can win? They were 11–0, and that was fool’s gold.

“You’re now losing players on defense, you have injuries on offense and you have a quarterback that can’t seem to make the right decision when that is what you’re expecting him to do. As a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, as an alum, I am sad because I don’t see them winning a game in the playoffs.”

The Steelers haven’t scored more than two offensive touchdowns in a game since Week 11 against the Jaguars. And this isn’t a team with a defense as fearsome as the old Troy Polamalu–James Harrison teams. If Pittsburgh wants to make some noise in the playoffs, it’s going to have to score points, and that just hasn’t been happening of late.

And the path to a playoff win could get a lot rockier depending on what happens over the last two weeks of the regular season. If the Steelers lose to the Colts next week and the Browns beat the (surging!) Jets, then Week 17’s game in Cleveland is for the division and home-field advantage in the first round. 

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Today is the last Hot Clicks for a little while. I’m taking some time off for the holidays, but I’ll be back on Jan. 4. I’ll also have a special year-end Clicks on New Year’s Eve. (On a related note, I saw Christmas Vacation for the first time over the weekend. Rectify that if you haven’t seen it.)

Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.