For the fourth time this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have scored under 20 points—and under 15 points on offense. In each of those instances, the settings of these sad performances have all been away from Heinz Field.
In the second game of the season, the Steelers accumulated a season-low six points against the Baltimore Ravens. But this was on a short week on Thursday Night Football, where road teams are prone to struggling, especially early in the season.
They came back the following week and stormed through the Carolina Panthers in the second half of that game, scoring 37 points, including 30 on offense, and putting a pair of running backs over the century mark on the ground.
All was right once again in the world, and extenuating circumstances conspired to result in the 26-6 embarrassment at the hands of a division rival. The offense had put up 30 points twice in the first three games of the season, so it was all good.
Then they blew it at home late on defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite putting up 24 points on offense. But Ben Roethlisberger and his crew managed just 10 points the following week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a pick six that finally provided an eight-point cushion in the 17-9 victory.
And then there was the rematch against the Cleveland Browns. Were it not for a meaningless late touchdown pass, the Steelers would have produced just a single field goal in that game.
A three-game homestand seemed like just the thing needed to cure what had ailed this team, to get back on the right foot before taking the product back on the road.
Those three weeks produced remarkable success for the offense, capped by consecutive games with six touchdown passes from Roethlisberger. The offense scored 30, 42, and 43 points in those games.
In the process, they discovered how to get it done in the red zone, an area in which they had become the worst team in the league prior to the string of home games. That, surely, had to be the key to success away from home.
And then they played the New York Jets on Sunday, and produced just 13 points on offense, inflated by a late 80-yard touchdown strike with about 80 seconds remaining in the game.
That also included a red zone interception, a fumble on the first play of a drive, and a muffed punt that prevented another drive from even starting. Add in another needless interception—and no turnovers from the defense—and you have the recipe of a disastrous loss on the road to a 1-8 team.
These things do happen. Perhaps it seems as though it happens a bit too frequently to the Steelers. But they have no choice but to move forward. It’s not as though the offense is fated to fail in front of hostile crowds. They have another chance to break the habit next week against the Tennessee Titans.