At one point in the first half of the season opener, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense led three consecutive touchdown drives, bookmarked by two field goal drives.
Since the first half against the Cleveland Browns, that same offense, with the same personnel, has only managed a field goal per 30 minutes. That’s not going to cut it.
It didn’t last night, and it won’t next week or the week after. Certainly not with the way the defense has gotten going.
Of course, the Steelers had all kinds of self-inflicted wounds. They turned the ball over three times against the Baltimore Ravens last night, which ended up turning into 10 points heading in the opposite direction.
But even though Le’Veon Bell ended up averaging over five yards per carry, eight of his 11 carries went for three yards or less, offset by outlier runs of 21 and 16 yards. Outside of those two plays, he ran for 23 yards on nine rushes, a little over 2.5 yards per carry.
LeGarrette Blount also chipped in three carries of just eight yards, with 32 of the Steelers’ 99 rushing yards coming off four end arounds from wide receivers.
On a play-to-play basis, the running game did not get the job done.
Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger averaged less than six yards per pass attempt while completing under 60 percent of his passes.
And many of his incompletions were a result of his throwing behind his receivers or to receivers he was simply not on the same page with.
But the offensive line certainly does not escape culpability for Roethlisberger’s performance.
Marcus Gilbert in particular put forth another poor game in pass protection that prompted former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah to comment on Twitter, “the talent at right tackle in the NFL is less than inspiring”.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley remarked after the opening, during which his offense put up 30 points, that he felt the unit knows its identity. They’ll probably be spending this extended down time doing some soul searching.
If ever there were a season in which it was imperative for Roethlisberger’s offense to carry the defense that has been the backbone of this team for most of his career, it would be now.
This is a defense that has a lot of potential to grow in the future, but it’s clearly not all the way there now. If the Steelers are going to win games this year, it’s going to have to be by putting up the points on the offensive side of the ball, but three-fourths of the available evidence so far leaves much to be desired.