The Steelers left Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday with one of the most dramatic wins in NFL history. Pulling off a nail-biting victory in the final seconds of overtime after multiple field goals were missed to beat division rivals and reigning AFC Champions, the Cincinnati Bengals. However, despite the Pittsburgh Steelers pulling off that 23-20 nail-biter of a victory against the Bengals, they may be leaving Cincinnati as more of a loser than a winner due to a combination of injuries and poor offense.
Injuries To Multiple Key Players
The Pittsburgh Steelers had an exorbitant amount of injuries in the game against Cincinnati. Most notably, the Steelers will be examining edge rusher, TJ Watt, for a possible torn pectoral muscle. If Watt is out with a pec, that will be multiple months, if not the entire season, and the Steelers cannot withstand his absence. Watt led the league the last two seasons in sacks, and is coming off of a Defensive Player of the Year campaign last year. Watt proved in week one what he does nearly every game, that he is an invaluable piece of this defense, and there is no replacing him.
Running back Najee Harris went out of the game after twisting his leg late in the fourth quarter. Harris was down for a long time, before popping back up and being able to walk off. The Steelers also saw injuries to inside linebacker Robert Spillane and cornerback Levi Wallace. Not to mention the likes of defensive tackle Cam Heyward, and Steelers edge rusher Alex Highsmith being banged up but continuing to play.
With tests being done on Monday, the Steelers will be hoping and praying that the medicals come back better than initially believed and that they still have some life this season.
One thing that was not being highlighted enough, due to the Steelers’ defense getting five takeaways, was how poor the Steelers’ offense was. The first half looked much better than the second half, but the Steelers should have pulled away from the game in the first half, leaving it almost impossible for the Bengals to come back. However, due to the Steelers’ struggles, primarily the running game, They allowed Cincinnati back into the game.
The Steeler’s offense will not get lucky enough to have five takeaways from the defense most weeks and must figure out a way to have a competent offense if they want to compete this season. Many fans thought that the retirement of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would mean a more dynamic offense. However, that was not the case and it’s looking like it may be on the offensive line and possibly poor play calling from Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada that is still holding them back.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky wasn’t necessarily on fire for the Steelers, as he threw for 194 yards and a touchdown. The new Steelers quarterback ended the day with a 78.2 rating and a 48.0 QBR. That was less of the issue, with more of it coming from the fact that they could not do anything in the running game. Steelers running back Najee Harris ended the day on 10 rushes for 23 yards, as he was met by defenders immediately when he got the ball. In fact, Harris wasn’t even the top rusher for the team, as it was wide receiver Chase Claypool, who ran for 36 yards. The Steelers ended the day with 75 yards on the ground from 22 attempts between four different players, which is not something that can be a sustainable offense, leaving Pittsburgh to be extremely one-dimensional.
The Steelers ended last season as the worst rushing offense in the NFL. There was hope by many that that would change as they brought in multiple linemen to fix those issues. However, the acquisition of the likes of Center Mason Cole and guard James Daniel have not done enough to stop this Steelers rushing attack from being disappointed.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season in his 15 seasons as a head coach with Pittsburgh, but he may have his work cut out for him this year.