The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to get into the end zone for eight straight quarters in 2014, from the third quarter of the season opener against the Cleveland Browns through the first half of their victory last night over the Carolina Panthers.
But they finished the night punching it in on offense three times, while adding a fourth touchdown via a special teams fumble recovery by Robert Golden.
Accompanied by three first-half Shaun Suisham field goals, the Steelers put up 37 points on the night, which exceeded the combined total of their first two games. The Steelers have only scored 37 or more points twice since 2011 before tonight.
After failing the throw a touchdown in a game for the first time in 31 games, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger managed to find Antonio Brown in the end zone twice, both times in the far right corner of the end zone.
Running back LeGarrette Blount also punched one in from seven yards out, running over Thomas DeCoud in the process.
The Steelers also put up 28 points in the second half, a feat that they have only matched four times since 2010, and bested only once.
Of course, the offense appeared to be on fire in the season opener, opening up a 27-3 halftime lead over the Browns, but the entire unit sputtered and idled through the second half, remaining off the scoreboard until Suisham managed to kick the game-winning field goal with time expiring.
Being forced to travel on a short week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers only managed to produce a Suisham field goal to close the first half and to begin the second half for a total of six points.
It seemed last night might be more of the same, after the Steelers had a Markus Wheaton touchdown taken off the board because his left foot touched out of bounds prior to bringing in the pass.
But the offensive unit was jumpstarted early in the second half when the Panthers did the Steelers a favor by jumping offside on a field goal attempt on fourth and four from the 11-yard line.
Of course, the real jumpstart was actually the defense recording its first turnover of the season, when Jarvis Jones got a shoulder into Cam Newton’s arm and knocked the ball out. Jones was credited with a sack and Jason Worilds recovered the ball at the 17-yard line.
It looked like the Steelers would fail to capitalize after Roethlisberger threw incomplete to his tight end on third and four before they gained new life on the offside call. Roethlisberger found Brown on the right side after a hard pump fake to the left on the next play.
The offense scored touchdowns on their next two possessions, with the special teams chipping in another in between Roethlisberger’s second touchdown to Brown and Blount’s seven-yard bruising run into the end zone.
Through six halves, the Steelers have scored 27, 3, 3, 3, 9, and 28 points. Four halves of single-digit points, bookmarked by two periods of explosive scoring. Which is closer to the offense’s true identity? Surely it must be somewhere in the middle?