During the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers produced their highest-scoring season in the history of the franchise, coming away with a total of 436 points and averaging 27.2 points per game through 16 regular season games.
That score was supplemented, of course, by four defensive touchdowns, two special teams touchdowns, and a safety, for a total of 37 points. But that would still mean that the offense alone produced 399 points for an average of just under 25 points per game, which, frankly, is still impressive for a Pittsburgh Steelers team.
And, of course, all teams’ numbers are augmented by defensive and special teams scores—very rarely does a season go by in which a team doesn’t get at least one.
So it was certainly gravely concerning when the offensive side of the ball only managed to produce 15 points in a 30-17 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens in the Wildcard round of the playoffs on Saturday night—the extra two points coming on a safety resulting from a blocked punt.
In other words, there weren’t very many highlights when looking back and studying how the offense as a whole produced. The offensive line struggled significantly in the trenches, particularly up the middle in the running game and on the perimeter in the passing game, both with straight rushes and overloaded blitzes.
Even Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, two of the team’s Pro Bowl selections this season, did not find themselves at their best for much of the game. Tight end Heath Miller certainly didn’t look at the top of his game, especially as a blocker.
One of the highlights for me, however, was watching rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant continue to blossom and show off an expanded skillset on what has seemed to be a near weekly basis over the course of the 11 games that he has played, including the playoff game on Saturday.
While he did not have his biggest game of the season, his five-reception, 61-yard, one-touchdown performance in his postseason debut was certainly a welcome sight, and a hopeful one for his future prospects in this offense.
The five receptions did tie a season-high, as he finished the season with 26 receptions in 10 games played. His 61 yards was also the fourth-most of the season, during which he produced two 100-yard games, though those performances included receptions of 80 and 94 yards.
Of course, the fact that he produced nine total touchdowns in just 11 games, all the while splitting reps with three other wide receivers, has been the most welcome development in the rookie’s inaugural campaign, in addition to the variety in which they came.
On Saturday night, it was another goal line fade, on which he beat the Ravens’ best cornerback to the ball. He high pointed the ball earlier in the back with an impressive back shoulder catch. Even some of the incompletions in his direction were noteworthy. He saw a season-high 81 percent of the offensive snaps in the loss. I have a feeling he’ll be seeing the lion’s share of snaps in his second season as well.