Four straight losses had the Pittsburgh Steelers in a bad way, not only on the field, but in the power rankings across the media landscape. At one point, the Steelers sat No. 27 in the league in the power rankings from NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus.
Then, on Sunday — to the surprise of many — the Steelers found a way to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Acrisure Stadium, snapping that four-game losing streak in seemingly improbable fashion, returning some positive vibes back to the team while also climbing back up the latest NFL.com power rankings from Hanzus.
Following the win over the Buccaneers, in which the Steelers were missing four key starting defensive backs and then lost starting quarterback Kenny Pickett early in the third quarter forcing backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky to come in and play hero, the Steelers moved up from No. 27 to No. 22 in Hanzus’ power rankings, which dropped Tuesday morning.
The move up to No. 22 overall sees the Steelers pass the likes of the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars in the power rankings.
“Just when all hope appeared lost, Mitch Trubisky stepped out of the shadows to save the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Hanzus writes regarding the Steelers’ ranking at No. 22 in the latest power rankings. “The veteran QB, who lost his starting job back in Week 4, replaced a concussed Kenny Pickett and led Pittsburgh on a scoring drive before icing the game with two huge third-and-long conversions to Chase Claypool and a designed run play that produced the clinching first down. Mike Tomlin’s undermanned defense also stepped up, putting continual pressure on Tom Brady with a four-man rush led by Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi. Tampa Bay looked out of sync all game — no small feat, considering how many key players were unavailable for the Steelers.”
The job that Trubisky did coming on in relief of Pickett needs to be commended. He came off the bench cold and was thrown into a tough spot in the middle of a drive, and he ultimately delivered, leading a scoring drive and then helping the Steelers melt the clock in the final 4:38, closing out the win in impressive fashion.
Claypool deserves a ton of credit too, considering he turned in the most complete performance of his career as a receiver, hauling in seven passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. He made crucial plays down the stretch, and helped the offense convert some key third and longs.
Defensively, guys like Larry Ogunjobi and Cameron Heyward really got after Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, causing a ton of disruption, leading to some forced throws and key misses from Brady and the Bucs.
The Steelers are riding high at the moment with a key win in the back. That said, they know the job still isn’t done and there’s a lot of work to do moving forward. Slowly but surely, they’re climbing back up the power rankings though, which is something positive.