The Pittsburgh Steelers have been, let’s say, not so great over the course of the past couple of games. They played two opponents over which they were clearly favored to win, both of those games at Heinz Field, and they won one by three points, the other losing by six.
In each of those two games, they only put up 17 points on offense. That is significant, because they were able to score at least 24 points as a team in each of the first 10 games of the season. It goes without saying, but even in this era of the game, when you put up 24 points, you give yourself a pretty good chance of winning.
17 makes it much tougher to win. It was enough to beat the Baltimore Ravens last week with Trace McSorley at quarterback by the end of the game. It wasn’t enough to get past the Washington Football Team tonight, and any comeback attempt was halted by a batted pass that led to an interception.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t necessarily down on the entire unit, however, even though he stressed on numerous occasions in his post-game remarks a short time ago that he personally has to play better.
“Right now, we’re not great on offense”, he said. “We’re not bad. I’d say we’re a little above average—maybe a B, a B-minus right now. So there’s plenty of room for improvement”.
Entering the game, the Steelers ranked sixth in scoring, averaging 28.8 points per game, which would set a new franchise record if they were able to retain that pace over the course of the year. Today’s numbers, of course, will knock that down some.
Roethlisberger did throw two touchdown passes, one to Diontae Johnson (actually twice, but only the second one counted) and another to James Washington. In all, he completed 33 of 53 pass attempts for 305 yards, and at least seven of those incompletions were dropped balls (another three were batted passes, including his lone interception).
Really, just like last week, if the Steelers can just make the plays that they have out in front of them to be made, they’ll be a lot better for it. Drops have played a major role in their offensive struggles during this stretch, and that has to improve immediately.
So, too, does the near absence of a run game. Anthony McFarland had runs of seven and nine yards, and Benny Snell converted on 3rd and 1, but that was all that could be said positively of their 14 rushes over the course of the evening.
I’m quite confident Steelers fans will disagree with Roethlisberger’s assessment of the offense being a little above average right now. In terms of execution, I might have to disagree as well. But they have the talent to be much better, as we’ve seen, and the odds of them struggling like this three weeks in a row are, I hope, low.