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Steelers, Tomlin Looking To Get Off To Faster Start

If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to end their string of close fourth quarters and heart-stopping finishes, a faster start is what the doctor ordered. Mike Tomlin knows as well as anybody the Steelers haven’t gotten out of the gates fast enough, something he hopes to change beginning tomorrow afternoon versus the New York Jets.

“We gotta start fast,” Tomlin told Bob Pompeani during this week’s Mike Tomlin Show. “We got to win possession downs, we gotta be on schedule.”

Through three games this season, the Steelers are one of six teams not to register a scoring drive on their opening possession, punting in all three games. Not only that, they went three-and-out on two of those drives and ran just four plays in their most recent game against the Cleveland Browns before sending out the punting unit.

As if that was bad enough, their early-game lack of success dates well beyond this season. Since 2020, Pittsburgh’s scored on just eight initial drives, only the Texans and Broncos are worse, and the Steeles have only five touchdown. Again, only Denver has a worse mark.

Since Week 12 of last year, here are the results of Pittsburgh’s opening drive:

Interception
Punt
Missed FG
Punt
Punt
Punt
Punt
Punt
Punt
Punt

For those scoring at homes, that’s a grand total of zero points across their last ten opening possessions. It’s an issue the team has talked about for weeks, months, seasons, but have yet to solve.

Pittsburgh’s slow starts aren’t exclusive to their first drive. They’ve been sluggish in the first quarter of games, too. In their three games this season, the Steelers’ offense has just three first quarter points, a field goal in Week One against the Bengals. It’s one of many reasons why the offense has struggled so much. As Tomlin alluded to, the team has been a wreck on third down, converting just 13/39 tries despite routinely putting themselves in manageable situations; the whole offense has been built around it.

The Steelers will face a Jets’ offense that has their own issues, held under 12 points in two of their three games this season, but it doesn’t really matter who the opponent is when your own offense is rarely playing with the lead. And Pittsburgh sure can’t afford slow starts when they face Buffalo, Miami, Philadelphia, and the rest of a pretty tough schedule later this season.

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