So far this 2018 season, Joe Flacco is playing like his team drafted his successor, while the Steelers are playing like wins are supposed to be handed to them.

In their clash on Sunday Night Football, Flacco passed for 363 yards and two touchdowns in the 23–14 win, withstanding an early comeback by the Steelers to lead Baltimore to three second-half field goals. The quarterback connected with 11 different receivers Sunday night, eclipsing the 300-yard mark for the second time already this season after not clearing that mark at all the entire 2017 season. Even though Marty Mornhinweg insists on continuing to bring in rookie QM Lamar Jackson for short russes, Flacco continues to be successful.

Meanwhile, the Steelers’ defense once again looked terrible, having allowed at least 440 yards of total offense in each of its past three games. Pittsburgh sleptwalked through a Week 1 tie with the Browns, got boatraced by Patrick Mahomes in Week 2 and then let Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for 400 yards and get the Buccaneers back into the game in what would become the Steelers’ only win of the season so far. Pittsburgh’s offense looked threatening for one short stretch in the second quarter when Vance McDonald turned into a Mack truck, and receiver Antonio Brown came through shortly after with a touchdown. 

Brown, by the way, looks displeased after just about every offensive series. He finished with two fewer catches than Ryan Switzer, a second-year wideout who was traded twice in 2018.

Is the drama catching up to Pittsburgh? Could Mike Tomlin suffer his first losing season as a head coach? The Steelers have yet to look impressive for any sustained time through a quarter of the season and are tied with the Browns for the worst record in the division.

Don’t throw in the towel on Pittsburgh just yet, but when you consider the on-field problems of the defense and the off-field problems for the offense, we could be witnessing a major regression for the Steelers.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Gary Gramling runs down the biggest storylines of the NFL Sunday in his Sunday Freakout. … Conor Orr breaks down the performance of the four rookie starting QBs. ... The Patriots reminded us all they’re still the class of the AFC East. … Our Kalyn Kahler followed Jameis Winston step-by-step as he went from backup to starter in the Bucs’ blowout loss to the Bears … and more.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Jared Goff is making his case for NFL MVP, writes Ben Baskin. … How the Eric Reid signing in Carolina would have never happened a year ago under different ownership. … Andy Benoit fired up the film machine to take a deep look at the Texans’ offense. … and more.

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1. After losing 48–10 to the Bears, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said everyone should be fired starting with himself first.

2. Both Andrew Luck and Colts head coach Frank Reich said they’re always going to play to win rather than play for a tie after losing 37–34 in overtime with a tie almost certain.

3. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said he went for the 2-point conversion up 19 points on the Jets with 25 seconds left in the game because “on the chart it says go for two.”

4. Falcons rookie WR Calvin Ridley has six receiving touchdowns already. The three receivers taken in the first round of the 2017 draft have a combined five career touchdown catches.

5. Seahawks safety Earl Thomas flipped off the Seattle sideline as he was carted off with a leg injury. It’s highly likely the last image we see of Thomas in a Seahawks uniform will include the bird.

6. Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert broke his ankle in the Bengals’ win against Atlanta and will be out the rest of the season. He says the only thing to do now is “move forward with optimism.”

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The Earl Thomas injury is Exhibit 1A why these veteran players are trying to squeeze as much money out of their short careers as they can. Injury has obviously been a concern of Le’Veon Bell’s, and you’d have to imagine seeing Thomas go down on Sunday only strengthens his resolve to sit out most, if not all, of the 2018 season.

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