For the second game in a row, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a chance to get points before halftime and weren’t able to execute. On Sunday against the New England Patriots, the Steelers had the ball at their own 48 with 17 seconds left and failed to score after Mitch Trubisky took a bad sack that basically ended their hopes of scoring. On Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, they had the ball at the Cleveland 43 with 16 seconds left, but back-to-back incompletions and then an incompletion as time ran out in an attempt to set up a shorter field goal again led to zero points.
In his postgame press conference, Trubisky talked about the Steelers’ inability to get points right before the half tonight.
“If you don’t have what I think is gonna be a completion, then it’s more of a throwaway, just trying to protect the football, not trying to give them a short field. So you try to be aggressive, but also try to be smart at the same time. We’d like to have a couple more timeouts before the half so we could use the whole field. They did a good job covering the sidelines so we couldn’t get out of bounds. A couple of those were throwaways, a couple were us or nobody’s,” Trubisky said via the team’s YouTube channel. “We just got to be better, end of half, being in those situations.”
While it’s true that one of the worst things you can do at the end of the half is turn the ball over and give the other team a chance to score, it would be nice if Pittsburgh was able to get a bit more aggressive to put points on the board to end the half. Last week, they were trailing 10-3 when they couldn’t put points on the board, and tonight they led 14-13.
If the Steelers were able to even get in field goal range and take a 17-13, they wouldn’t have been down two scores after Nick Chubb’s fourth quarter touchdown unless the Browns converted a two-point conversion. While playing the “what-if” game doesn’t do anybody any good, the point remains that the Steelers have to find a way to put points on the board when they have the ball in good field position at the end of the half.
Both weeks had a similar start, with big plays early in the drive (last week it was a 24-yard completion to George Pickens, tonight it was a 20-yard completion to Chase Claypool) before the drive eventually dies out. Tonight, on first look, it appeared that Trubisky missed an open Diontae Johnson on an incompletion to Pickens that would’ve put the Steelers in field goal range. Obviously, as Trubisky said, you don’t want to make a throw that’s too risky, and the Steelers didn’t have any timeouts left so if somebody got tackled in bounds, the half probably would’ve run out unless they left time for a spike.
Scoring before the half is not the easiest of situations to convert in, but it’s a golden opportunity to get momentum heading into half and put make yourself more comfortable. This Steelers team has played three close games so far, and every single point matters and will continue to matter for the rest of the season. With the offense looking rather putrid so far, they need to take advantage of every little opportunity they can to get on the board. Right now, they’ve missed one right before the half two weeks in a row.