The Pittsburgh Steelers offered further proof that one-dimensional football doesn’t add up to wins.
For the second time in three years, the Pittsburgh Steelers saved their worst football for the worst possible time. And it’s really not that difficult to figure out just what went wrong…again.
The debacle that was the team’s 48-37 home loss to the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card playoffs was the club’s fifth setback in six games — this after an 11-0 start. And the team’s over-dependence on a slew of young receivers and the arm of Ben Roethlisberger eventually proved to be its demise.
The Pittsburgh offense ran 84 plays in the 11-point loss. There were 16 runs and an astounding 68 pass attempts, the latter an NFL postseason record and tied for the third-most by a team in any NFL game.
Roethlisberger was not sacked, threw for 501 yards and just as many touchdown passes (4) as interceptions. Predictable would be an understatement because this has been the Steelers’ calling card for more than two seasons.
Flashback to Week 11 of the 2018 season. The team had to rally to defeat the Jaguars at Jacksonville but the seeds of what the offense has been in recent years was planted. In their final seven games that year, there were 126 running plays and an astonishing 329 passing plays. Tomlin’s turnover-prone club would drop four of its final six games after a 7-2-1 start and miss the playoffs. And the team finished next to last in the league in rushing yards.
In 2019, Roethlisberger was around for only six quarters. The Steelers utilized backup quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Still, the club finished 29th in the league in rushing yards per game.
For the record, the numbers showed 542 passing plays and 395 running plays. More evidence? Randy Fichtner’s offense ran a total of 1,043 plays, 670 through the air and 373 on the ground.
When a team is that predictable on offense, it can only lead to disaster. Roethlisberger has seen his share of passes batted down this season and that was the case once again, leading to mistakes.
Along with Maurkice Pouncey’s snap over the head of his quarterback on the first play of the game (and the Browns’ recovery in the end zone for a touchdown), the Steelers turned over the ball five times, four in the first half. The other five playoff games this weekend saw 10 teams combine for seven turnovers.
Call it déjà vu all over again. It’s somewhat inexplicable when it comes to an organization that has prided itself in a certain style of football for decades. There figures to be some changes this offseason due to a variety of reasons (via Spotrac). But will one of them being getting back to the basics when it comes to running the rock, something the Pittsburgh Steelers were doing early in the season?