The regular season is now over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the playoffs as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to playoff success, in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: What should be the Steelers’ biggest concern following last night’s win?
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won two postseason games, and nine games in total, in a row, but not all of them have been steamrolling affairs. Three of the past five games have required fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks, while last night’s required a holding penalty and a subsequent pass breakup to negate a game-tying two-point conversion with under three minutes to play.
Of course, then it came down to throwing the ball on third and three from their own 12-yard line to clinch the game, which was a dicey proposition in its own right. The point is that while the Steelers are on to the AFC Championship game, they still have plenty of areas of improvement that they can work on over the course of this week, and should work on, before facing Tom Brady and the Patriots, who have been to every AFC Championship game since the Steelers were last in it in 2010. And won a couple of them.
Sure, a lot of things looked great last night, and I’ll start with the offensive line in that regard. The pass protection was excellent, as was the run-blocking. I saw a stat that showed that Le’Veon Bell had about as many yards before contact as after, which speaks to how well both the line and the back played during the 170-yard rushing day.
But the play-calling was amiss at times, Ben Roethlisberger’s execution went awry on several key moments, a few players failed to come up with the big play, the red-zone offense and defense both went oh-for in their respective departments, and the pass rush was hot and cold. There was even a delay of game thrown in there.
It’s hard to imagine the Steelers making as many mistakes in a variety of aspects as they did last night and still coming out of Foxboro with a plane to Houston in their future. To me, the biggest problem was the red-zone execution and play selection. The offense is going to have to put up points over the course of the next two games against arguably the three best quarterbacks, and offenses, in the league this year.