After beginning the season 11-0, the Pittsburgh Steelers have run into a few problems on the field. The team has now lost each of its last two games.
Offensive Problems in Pittsburgh
After a tough loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke to the media about Pittsburgh’s offensive struggles.
“Offensively we’re not very good,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re not playing good football and it starts with me. I think this is a team that has got a lot of resilience and understands what it takes to win football games and understands what time of year it is and right now it’s unacceptable.”
While Roethlisberger may place some of the blame on himself, Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons have been struggling with ball drops.
In the first two series’ of Sunday’s matchup, wide receiver Diontae Johnson had two drops. He was benched until the second half, but Pittsburgh relies on Johnson for explosive plays. Tight end Eric Ebron has also had a few costly drops in the last few games.
Third down conversions have also become a big problem for Pittsburgh. Against the Bills, the Steelers only converted on one of their ten third down opportunities. Even the run game has not been up to par.
Even with James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey back, the Steelers still couldn't get anything going in the run game. '
Conner: 10 carries, 18 yards.
Samuels: 4 carries, 15 yards.
Snell: 3 carries, 14 yards.
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) December 14, 2020
Until Sunday night, Roethlisberger had not been sacked in more than four games. However, pass protection became more difficult as the offensive line began to wear down due to injuries.
Injuries Came Late for Steelers
Many teams across the NFL were plagued with injuries from the start of the season. But, for Pittsburgh, the injuries came later.
Aside from losing offensive tackle Zach Banner to an ACL tear in the first game of the season, the Steelers’ second major injury did not come until Week 6. Since then, most of the injuries have been on the defensive side of the ball.
Linebacker Devin Bush went down with a torn ACL in Pittsburgh’s Week 6 win over the Cleveland Browns. His replacement, Robert Spillane, suffered a knee injury in last week’s game and has since been placed on the Reserve/Injured List.
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered a torn ACL in the Steelers’ second matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
Two more injuries were added to the slate during the game in Buffalo. Offensive guard Matt Feiler went down with a pectoral injury in the first quarter. He was replaced by rookie Kevin Dotson, who suffered the same injury later in the game.
A Worn Out Defense
With Pittsburgh having issues on the offensive side of the ball, the defense has been trying to make up for it.
Despite the injuries on Pittsburgh’s defense, they held their own for the first half of Sunday’s matchup. However, once they allow one explosive play from an opposing offense, things go downhill fast.
It also did not help that the defense was on the field for the majority of the game. The Steelers offense had several three-and-out drives, giving the defense very little time to rest between possessions.
After Sunday night’s game, veteran defensive tackle Cameron Heyward addressed the divide between the offense and defense.
“We gotta work together, and these past two games we haven’t done that,” Heyward said. “There’s a disconnect there.”
Heyward also pointed out that if the offense has an issue or gives up points, the defense has to be able to accommodate that and make up for it.
The Steelers will look to redeem themselves against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 21 at 8:15 p.m.
Featured Image Courtesy of Sky Sports.
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