After a decent start, the Pittsburgh Steelers now find themselves in trouble after losses to the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns.
It all started last Sunday, when the Steelers hosted the Patriots for their home opener. For years New England has been the bane of Pittsburgh’s existence; in nine matchups since 2010, they have beat the Steelers seven times. Sadly, things didn’t change this time around.
Several things were clear from the beginning, starting with the Steelers’ defense. Without TJ Watt, the defense failed to sack Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. This gave Jones all the time in the world to make plays, throwing for 252 yards and a touchdown. The defense also didn’t stop the run game, which amassed 124 yards and a touchdown of their own.
The offense didn’t help things either, looking just as conservative as they did in Week 1. Mitch Trubisky and company sputtered along for most of the game, wasting numerous opportunities to tie or take the lead. Trubisky barely threw down the field at all, allowing the Patriots defense to telegraph their plays almost every time. The Steelers’ run game continued to struggle as well, only totaling 91 yards. Star running back Najee Harris accounted for 49 of those yards on 15 carries.
But the turning point of the game came in the third quarter, just after the Steelers cut the Patriots’ lead to 10-6. They held the New England offense on the ensuing drive and forced a punt. Unfortunately, Gunner Olszewski muffed it and handed the ball right back to the Patriots, who scored shortly after.
Even after a touchdown and two-point conversion, the Steelers couldn’t keep the momentum alive. During their final two possessions of the game, they failed to pick up a single first down. Overall, it was a miserable day for the Steelers and their fans at Acrisure Stadium.
Sadly, the Steelers luck didn’t turn around last Thursday as they faced the Browns in Cleveland.
Both teams were evenly matched in the first half, with the Steelers going into halftime with a 14-13 lead. However, Cleveland’s offense took over and never looked back. It was led by running back Nick Chubb, who rushed for 113 yards on 23 carries. His touchdown in the fourth quarter was the nail in the Steelers’ coffin.
Once again, the Steelers’ defense struggled without TJ Watt, giving up 376 total yards. It’s becoming increasingly obvious how much he is needed, as the team has yet to win a game without him. At least they were able to get to the quarterback this time, sacking Jacoby Brissett twice.
The offense, while improving slightly, still didn’t make enough plays when it needed to. After Chubb’s touchdown, the Steelers desperately needed an answer, but again went three and out. They need to figure out some chemistry and rhythm fast, or it’s going to be a long season.
Perhaps the biggest highlight for the Steelers was George Pickens’ insane sideline catch in the first quarter. He was one of the most talked about players coming out of training camp and the preseason and for a good reason. If he keeps making catches like that, he is going to make a big impact for years to come.
Steelers Week 4 Preview
Up next on the Steelers’ schedule is a home game against the New York Jets on Oct. 2. Much like Pittsburgh, New York also looks to get back in the win column after a 27-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. They will be without their starting quarterback, Zach Wilson, still out with a meniscus tear and bone bruise. So, this means Pittsburgh must face an old foe in Joe Flacco, a former member of their division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers normally do very well against the Jets, winning 20 out of their 26 matchups. Their last three home games against New York all resulted in wins, outscoring them by an 82-42 margin. The two teams’ last meeting was on December 22, 2019, when the Jets beat Pittsburgh 16-10 in New York.
Pittsburgh’s performance so far is a little concerning, especially only scoring a total of 44 points in three games. But a loss to the Jets may be the time to start hitting the panic button.