This is an offense that many expected to set the league on fire, the Pittsburgh Steelers simply have too many weapons to be stopped, pundits said. They were not wrong. Dating back to last season’s post season loss, the offense has put up nearly 1500 yards of offense combined (1492 yards) and are averaging 33.3 points per game. If 30 points per game was the magic number expected from this offense, the Steelers have exceeded their expectations, putting up over 470 yards in each of their last three games, but here’s the catch.
The team has not emerged from any of those games with a victory.
545 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
472 yards against the Cleveland Browns.
475 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Spectacular showings from the offense and Mike Tomlin’s team has just two losses and a tie to show for it. There are reasons for this of course, and the offense is not free of blame either. In Cleveland, it was the offense’s six turnovers that sealed their fate. Against the Jaguars and Chiefs, it was the defense’s inability to make a stop short of the end zone.
The team is entering uncharted waters as the Steelers have typically enjoyed an abundance of success when they are able to surpass 400 yards of total offense. Last season, the Steelers went 4-2 when the team put up 400 or more yards of offense and were 9-3 over the last two seasons. Including this year’s slow start, the Steelers are 17-7-1 when totaling 400 yards or more since 2014. What used to be an offense that could score freely is now an offense that is either hindered by a slow start, costly turnovers or a defense that has had troubles getting off the field, unless it is after giving up a touchdown.
In contrast, since Keith Butler has become defensive coordinator, the defense under him has allowed 400 or more yards on 14 occasions. The team surprisingly has an 8-6 record in those games but when it comes to a back and forth shootout, the Steelers have typically been not as lucky. In games in which the Steelers have both put up 400-yards and allowed 400-yards, the team is just 3-3.
In games in which they go blow for blow, the outcome has essentially been a coin flip and that is not a blueprint for sustained success. The Steelers are already in a tight hole with their 0-1-1 record as since 1970, nine teams have started the season 0-1-1. Just one of those teams, the 1970 Oakland Raiders have made the playoffs. The rest have limped and struggled to the end, finishing with an average record of 5-6-1.
The Steelers are finally reaching their potential on offense but still they are lacking the efficiency and complete team effort needed to win. Whether it be turnovers, special teams or the defense, the Tomlin led team has had trouble adding a win to the win column. The 400 yards of total offense sure is a nice accolade, but too many times it has been the result of a team desperately trying to play catch up. Now the Steelers are playing catch up again as they look up from the cellar of the AFC North.