When talking about this Pittsburgh Steelers offense, there are many things you can say about it, but one thing that you couldn’t say, perhaps at least until recently, is that it has been consistent. Of course, we all know the mitigating factors that have contributed to the ups and downs we’ve seen this season, but that remains the case.
One area in which they have been disappointingly fairly consistent, however, has been in getting off to poor starts. On 12 opening drives, the Steelers have scored a total of 10 points thus far on the season.
On seven out of the Steelers’ 12 opening drives, the offense had to settle for a punt, with a few of those being of the three-and-out variety. An eight drive stalled on their opponents’ 34-yard line and resulted in a turnover on downs after a failed fourth down pass.
Interestingly, the only time this season in which the Steelers have scored a touchdown on their opening drive was against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team’s next opponent, which was Ben Roethlisberger’s first game back from a knee injury.
Roethlisberger finished that opening drive with a short touchdown pass to Antonio Brown to jump ahead 7-0. However, they proceeded to be outscored 16-3 the rest of the way, though they held a 10-6 lead as late as the fourth quarter.
The only other time this season that they came away with points from their first possession was in Week Three against the Rams, in which they began the game with a field goal. The offense finished the game with just 12 points, but ended up doubling St. Louis’ point total to secure the win in spite of Roethlisberger’s injury.
Going back to the season opener, the team did at least actually manage to drive down to within scoring range, but Josh Scobee missed his first of two field goals in that game to end the possession.
Of course, the Steelers began their last game in about as bad a fashion as possible in every way but defensively. after fumbling the opening kickoff, their first offensive possession also ended after four plays with another fumble, which was the team’s first fumble lost on a rushing play this year.
But as that game showed, it doesn’t always matter how you start, but how you finish. The Steelers ended up putting up 45 points in that game, including four offensive touchdowns, a punt return for a touchdown, and three field goals, as well as a two-point conversion.
Would it be nice for them to jump out to a nice lead every game? sure, but it has proven not to be a prerequisite. Of the two games in which they did score on their opening drive, they lost one, and they scored a combined 22 points, including 12 in a victory. It was their two lowest-scoring games of the year.
Notably, in five of the seven games that began with a punt, Roethlisberger did not start. In his seven starts, the offense has scored a touchdown, gone 1-for-2 on field goals, fumbled, turned the ball over on downs, and punted twice.