2017 South Side Questions: Biggest Takeaway From Finale?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: What is your biggest takeaway from the Steelers’ final game of the regular season?

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended their regular season with a win in a game that proved to have no impact on their playoff seeding, and it took some doing by the end. After jumping ahead scoring 21 points in the first half, the offense stalled in the second, going scoreless, with only a kick return touchdown to provide the margin of victory.

That offense, of course, was playing with five backups, and then a backup to a backup, by the end of the game, but overall, there were plenty of positives to take away. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant both stepped up, the offensive line short of Chris Hubbard’s botched snaps as the emergency center was solid despite playing two reserves, and the running game behind Stevan Ridley showed life.

Defensively, the pass rush was very good, recording six sacks, and providing consistent pressure, but they at times knowingly vacated gaps that allowed the Browns to have success, including conversions on third and long.

There were also a handful of big plays allowed down the field due to errors in a secondary that included all of their starters, against the worst passing offense in the NFL. Those who see doom at the bottom of every tea cup will surely hone in on this reality. Personally, I don’t see anything too illuminating as I sip down to the end of my cup of green tea writing this.

Though they beat the Browns twice this season—everyone who has played them has beaten them—they have not been at their best. Obviously, they will have to play much better to win in the postseason.

But I think the additions of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Cameron Heyward might be able to bridge that gap.

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