The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered one of their most crushing and narrow defeats against the Buffalo Bills. While rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett showed early promise in his debut as a starter, it was far from enough. When asked what the offense needs to do to improve, Pickett singled out one consistent shortcoming the team had.
“We were moving the ball fine and just stalled in the red zone,” Pickett said in his postgame interview. “That kinda was the MO the whole day. We move the ball up and down the field, and then we get to the red zone and not finish. We have to look back and see, we’re one-dimensional, we throw all the time. We gotta figure it out as players to stay ahead of the chains, and not put us in those situations when they know we’re gonna throw it.”
This team is a long way from the 2018 offense, which had a near all-time great 73.5% touchdown efficiency in the red zone. Indeed, red zone offense has been a struggle for the Steelers for years now, and it was showcased in full force against Buffalo.
The Steelers’ first drive, and their only one that scored points, saw them march down the field, but they merely only managed to kick a field goal due to receiver Diontae Johnson being inches away from an incredible one-handed catch. This wound up being their only points of the day, and the offense hardly sniffed the red zone for the remainder of the game.
The team had four red zone trips and only three points to show for it. The second red zone trip led to a missed field goal, as head coach Mike Tomlin made the questionable call to kick a field goal while down 24-3. In the second half, the team had two red zone trips, neither of which led to any points.
While Pickett is right to point out the team’s red zone offense as something to work on, it is far from the only thing. The team had several three-and-outs, which proved costly in giving Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen more and more possessions. The team’s run game struggled immensely, and the play-calling was questionable.
Pickett will now prepare to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady at Acrisure Stadium. In doing so, he and the offense must improve upon their shortcomings, especially in the red zone.