The Pittsburgh Steelers paid Eric Ebron $12 million over the next two seasons to come in and make plays. The veteran, former Pro Bowl tight end so far has made good on that. While he may not be getting the sort of volume he had playing with Andrew Luck, he is making the plays that are in front of him, and has had some of the prettiest touchdowns of the season so far with the team, including a hurdling game-winner yesterday.
But it took a 15-point second half in order to pull this one out, after the offense managed just nine points in the first half, and even the nine points didn’t look very impressive outside of the lone touchdown drive. That’s why they changed it up in the second half.
“For us, it was more about keeping our defense off the field”, Ebron said about the offensive approach in the second half. “We couldn’t catch a drop [in a bucket] in the first half and we had our defense out there tired. I know my locker mate [Minkah Fitzpatrick] is gonna cuss me out tomorrow about how many plays he played”.
“Really, it was just keeping our defense off the field and allowing them to be as productive as they are”, he added. “We didn’t give them any chance to regroup, recalibrate, figure things out. We just kept putting them back on the field, and that’s not a good look for us, and that’s not a good look for them”.
To give this some perspective, the Steelers had six offensive drives in the fist half. Three of them were three and outs, essentially, though one resulted in a field goal only because the drive began in field goal range. Two other drives gained an average of 30 yards and produced a punt and a turnover on downs.
In the second half, after a three out on their first possession, they had three consecutive extended drives that netted 75-plus yards each (including a net of 30 penalty yards), producing two touchdowns and a field goal.
“Offensively, if our defense is out there, that means we’re not doing anything, so that means we just need to continue to get better, figure out how to start faster”, Ebron said. “That’s really it. We need to start faster to be better”.
The Steelers have been alternating fast starts and slow finishes. They got off to fast starts against the Browns and Titans, but finished slow against the latter. The past two weeks, they have trailed by double digits in the first half before coming back.