The Pittsburgh Steelers had a four-game winning streak end last week with a tie, and they’ve lost their most recent game since. Preceding that winning streak with a three-game losing streak, they find themselves perched precariously close to being a .500 team 11 games into the 2021 season.
And one of the teams to whom they have already lost, the division-rival Cincinnati Bengals, is the team with the opportunity to knock them back down a peg, led by, among others, star rookie first-round wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who scored two touchdowns against the Steelers back in week three.
The fifth overall pick had been consistently putting up numbers every week, but while he has continued to find the end zone, he has now gone three consecutive weeks while being held to under 50 receiving yards. And he’s struggled to find connections on the deep ball, which is how he was finding his early victories.
“It’s frustrating, yes”, he admitted in speaking to reporters yesterday. “Of course that’s what you want as a receiver. You want to be a deep-ball threat. But patience is a virtue, though. NFL games go by faster than you think, especially when you’re playing them. I’m always trying to be patient. I’m never on the sideline complaining about [getting] the ball”.
Truth be told, this is the first interview I’ve watched with Chase since he’s been in the NFL, and he honestly reminds me somewhat of the Steelers’ own Najee Harris in the way he projects confidence and assurance, but also a realness and even a humor with how he addresses the media. Actually a pretty easy guy to like, in that regard. Too bad he’s trying to beat Pittsburgh again. And he was asked what they have to focus on this week to do that.
“We’ve just got to take what they’re giving us. Just be patient, take what they’re giving us”, he said. “Just executing when we need to execute, taking advantage of the matchups that we have, and if they bring any disguises that we don’t really see, we’ve got to adjust to it”.
While Chase hasn’t been putting up huge numbers in recent weeks, they have gotten the run game going. Joe Mixon rushed for 123 yards in his last trip out. And he’s also scored five touchdowns on the ground (six in total) over the course of the past three weeks. The Steelers certainly can’t afford to overlook him. He did rush for 90 on 18 carries against them in the first meeting.
The Bengals did drop two games before their most recent win, a 32-13 takedown of the Las Vegas Raiders, who have lost five of their last seven since starting 3-0. They currently sit at 6-4…a half a game ahead of the Steelers.