I’m not sure that there ever been a team less happy about being the final unbeaten team in the NFL than have been the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. After being the 5-0 Tennessee Titans and later watching the Seattle Seahawks drop a game on the road, the only team with a zero in the loss column resides in Pittsburgh, but those who earned that unblemished record know that they’re not winning the way they would like to—a way that is sustainable.
“It’s just about continuing to work hard, because people, they’re pretty mad, simply because we didn’t play our best game”, Terrell Edmunds said on Monday. “We haven’t played our best game in a lot of games that we’ve played this year, but we’re still pushing and we’re still fighting through it and staying together as a team and winning football games”.
Even though the Steelers own one of the best points differentials in the league, three of their games were decided by a single possession, and only one game was decided by greater than 10 points. Sunday’s win over the Titans was their closest yet, just 27-24, in a game in which they were outscored by 14 points in the second half.
“I would definitely say it’s a four-quarter thing”, Edmunds said. “Some games we’ve played a great first half, like this last game, we played a great first half, and then we let them come in a little bit in the second half and we made the game tighter than it could have been. We’ve just got to continue to work hard to try to play a full game. Once we play a full game, offense, defense, special teams, all three sides of the ball, I think we’ll be really great”.
Arguably the only complete game the Steelers have put together so far was the 38-7 win over the Cleveland Browns. While you don’t have to register a blowout to have a ‘complete’ game, this team knows that they have been leaving too much on the table in games by the time that they come off the field, and that they need to work to correct that.
One area that has been pretty consistently strong, outside of a play or two, has been the run defense, which has done well to make opponents one-dimensional, but the pass coverage has not been sufficient enough to hold offenses down, even with what is pretty much objectively the best pass rush in the game.
Offensively, cutting down on three-and-out drives would be a good start. Opening up the field and landing some more explosive plays is the next step. They have hit on some, but not at the rate that they would like. Generally, consistency is the key.