The Pittsburgh Steelers offense scored 13 of their 19 points against a Baltimore Ravens defense that was down several starters. They scored just 17 points again the following week against a four-win Washington Football Team squad at Heinz Field. Earlier this Sunday, they put up a season-low 15 points in a frustrating loss—their second in a row—to the Buffalo Bills.
To their credit, of their eight total possessions over the past three games—out of 37—that resulted in points, seven of those came on extended drives that traversed at least 50 yards, many of them taking 70 yards or more. They had one 30-yard touchdown drive set up by a defensive turnover on Sunday against the Bills in the second half.
But scoring just eight times over a three-game span, even if you start every drive from your own one-yard line, is an awful performance that simply will not cut it in the NFL, and that is why they dropped two of those three games.
When he’s not dancing in the middle of the field, veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been the most consistent performer this season for the offense. After 13 games, he now has 79 receptions on the season for 655 yards and seven touchdowns, tied for a career high. It’s up to guys like him and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to come together.
“We go out there and we play, we stick together”, he said following Sunday’s game. “That’s one that thing, as a leader, he’s been doing this for a very long time. A lot of young guys, they’re all looking around, and he’s like the leader, so that’s what we do. We go out there and we make our plays, and we just move on to the next play”.
“Even though we have two games back to back that we lost, this makes us even better to become closer as a team, as brothers”, he added. After their first loss, tight end Eric Ebron suggested that he was almost grateful for it.
Right now, they have as much adversity as they could want. Even though they remain in excellent position as far as the postseason goes—and indeed have already locked in a spot, needing just one win in the final three weeks, or a Cleveland Browns loss, to lock up the AFC North—they are being questioned from every angle following their recent play and accompanying losing streak.
The important part is, of course, how they respond. They have performed poorly twice and responded to that poorly twice already. Now they have a third shot at turning things around, and against what on paper would look to be a favorable matchup. Needless to say, their performance will be heavily scrutinized, and even total domination will be viewed with skepticism.