The Pittsburgh Steelers understand that the defense has been carrying them through their 5-1 run over the course of the past month and a half. It’s definitely something that gets talked about, especially from the offensive players, who have a hunger to do more with what they’ve got.
That’s especially the case for Mason Rudolph, the man under center, who has now gone 4-2 in games he’s started…and 4-1 in games he’s both started and finished. While he has largely done nothing to make the Steelers lose games, he knows there’s a lot more he and his offensive teammates can do to further their cause.
“Our defense is playing light out. There’s gonna be a game moving forward we’re maybe they’re not gonna be able to put seven points up for us, and we’ve got to step in and we’ve got to produce more”, he said following Sunday’s 17-12 win over the Los Angeles Rams. “So it’s team game, yes, but we’ve got to have their backs more moving forward, and we’re gonna continue to keep getting better. I think tonight was a step in the right direction”.
The offense only managed to score 10 points, with the other touchdown coming via a fumble recovery and return by Minkah Fitzpatrick. The defense has contributed three touchdowns during the Steelers’ four-game winning streak. Fitzpatrick also had a 96-yard interception return score and Devin Bush scooped and scored a fumble against the Los Angeles Chargers before the bye.
The defense (and special teams) has taken the ball away 26 times, nearly three per game, but the offense has too often not been able to capitalize on that. Yet it hasn’t stopped them from winning. “It’s encouraging to know that we’re winning games when we’re still leaving points on the field and we’re making mistakes”, Rudolph said in light of that.
“You expect to make mistakes, we’re all perfectionists, that’s the way we operate, but we understand that there’s gonna be learning opportunities week to week”, he went on. “Coach Tomlin talks about, ‘find a new problem’, don’t let an old problem continue to rear its head. Put that to bed, find a new problem. I think we’re doing that as an offense”.
The latest problem is holding onto the ball, both in terms of ball security—fumbling—and completing catches. Between fumbles and drops, the offense put about 10 balls on the ground against the Rams. It’s no wonder they were only able to score 10 points. And that doesn’t include the drive-killing penalties.
The good news is of course that they have still been winning amid all this. But it does have to change. They’ve been pushing their luck, and it’s bound to catch up with them if they don’t clean up.