The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently riding a three-game winning streak, with each victory more convincing than the last, against seemingly quality opponents. They are three games over .500 for the first time since the middle of the 2012 season, after which they proceeded to drop 11 out of their subsequent 15 games.
But they are 12-5 since then, as the new pieces in their puzzle have slowly fallen into place. There’s still a ways to go, but there’s no better way to rebuild than to do so while winning games.
Today’s game comes against the lowly New York Jets, but even though they may be 1-8, they have a slew of talented players that can offer up a surprise—and lest we forget, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have yet to beat anybody but the Steelers.
The key to making sure something similar doesn’t happen again today begins and ends with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has been on a historic run over the last few games, which anybody likely reading this would not require summarizing.
The Steelers have simplified their offense some over the last few games, perhaps in part due to incorporating rookie Martavis Bryant into the offensive game plan. While he still may not necessarily have a perfect grasp on what he’s doing, there’s no denying his success working as a package player.
The 6’4”, 4.4-speed wide receiver has caught five touchdowns over the last three games, including two each in the past two games, and they’ve come in a variety of ways. It started on the deep ball, turned inside with some goal line work, including a beautiful catch on a fade, and finally wrapped up with some solid scheming from intermediate distance.
Even if the Jets may have given up more touchdowns than anybody this year, the odds do seem against him catching another pair of touchdowns for a third consecutive game—but then again you never know.
In recent weeks, running back Le’Veon Bell and Markus Wheaton have also found their way into the end zone (as a receiver, in the case of the former) for the first time as Roethlisberger is learning how to get some of his young targets where they need to be.
The running game could certainly be improved, especially after the poor performance last week, but this week is likely not the one to get it turned around, as the Jets have among the most imposing 3-4 front lines in the league, and have been stout against the run.
Still, it would certainly be beneficial if the offense could achieve at least a modicum of success on the ground in limited snaps, which would help open up the passing game and allow Roethlisberger to play off play action.