To start the game, the Pittsburgh offense failed to find a rhythm early on, taking short passes close to the LOS and attempting unsuccessful runs up the middle as well as several jet sweeps to try and move the ball against the Cincinnati defense.
However, as the game wore on into overtime, we saw the Steelers open up more on the offensive side of the football, pushing passes down the field, including a fantastic one-handed grab along the sideline and a scramble drill play to Pat Freiermuth to put Pittsburgh in field goal range for the walk-off from Chris Boswell to seal the win.
When asked about the offense’s mentality last Sunday in terms of playing with a lead and not getting too conservative with the ball as the Bengals trailed for the entire game, Mitch Trubisky mentioned that while it’s important to take care of the football with the lead, the offense needs to do its job of putting more points on the board and building a bigger lead.
“I don’t think it was a mindset,” Trubisky said to the media Wednesday on video from the team’s website. “I think that’s something that just progressed throughout the game. I know when your defense playing that well and they’re getting turnovers, you just want to take care of the football. But we got to have that killer mindset. The aggressive mentality to really take teams out of the game and just not allow ’em to keep it close. So, I was proud of the way we took care of the football, but you got to have that aggressive mentality to score points. And it’s not just the calls. It’s got to be everybody on the field. It’s got to be a player’s mindset.”
The offense struggled to get anything going Sunday afternoon, as Trubisky completed 21-of-38 pass attempts for 194 yards and a TD pass to Najee Harris, while the running game was nonexistent, as Pittsburgh totaled 75 yards rushing on 22 attempts (3.4 YPC). The offense converted only 4-of-15 third down attempts in the game and held the ball for 26:17 compared to 43:43 time of possession by the Bengals, who rattled off 94 offensive plays.
No one is going to confuse Pittsburgh’s offense for the Bengals’, who boast one of the most dynamic units in the game. However, given the defense’s efforts to aid the offense with five turnovers and good field position, Trubisky is right that they need to do a better job putting their foot on the gas and capitalize by scoring more points. Should Pittsburgh convert just one of their failed drives into a TD Sunday, they likely win the game in regulation and not have to rely on a blocked extra point attempt by Minkah Fitzpatrick to force overtime.
Pittsburgh hasn’t had a killer mindset on offense for a few seasons now, dating back to pre-elbow injury Ben Roethlisberger and when the team still had Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and a top five OL in the league. The offense has been completed overhauled since then and is undergoing a makeover, especially at QB and on the offensive line. Still, Pittsburgh has the weapons to put up points should the trench play and QB play improve. Here’s hoping we see that aggressive mentality Trubisky refers to this week as the Steelers prepare to face off against the New England Patriots at home.