There was no shock that the Steelers were without T.J. Watt for their season opener at home. However, the Steelers’ 17-14 defeat to the Patriots may be largely attributed to the team’s lackluster offensive.
For the second consecutive week, the Steelers’ quarterback situation was a problem as they transitioned from legendary Ben Roethlisberger to first-round pick Kenny Pickett.
With the Patriots playing deep in prevent, Mitch Trubisky passed for only 168 yards, with his long pass going for 23 yards to George Pickens in the final 22 seconds of the first half.
The Steelers averaged only 8 yards per completion, with the biggest pass going for 17 yards to Diontae Johnson. Both of the Steelers’ touchdown passes to Najee Harris were check-downs of 14 and 13 yards, and they epitomized the team’s approach to offense.
Defense coordinator Mike Tomlin said, “They’re a bunch that really excels in minimizing big plays, splash plays.” Their trademark is that. McCourty (Devin) has been stationed deep in the middle of the field for a while. To that end, we entered the game with the expectation that it would be difficult.
The transformation of a healing @_TJWatt today at #Steelers practice at the UPMC Rooney’s Sports Complex on the South Side. Watt appears to be aggressively rehabbing his pec injury. @PghSteelersNow #NFL #SteelersNation pic.twitter.com/dD0u4wrC1g
— Ed Thompson (@ThompsonFoto12) September 14, 2022
I was wondering what McCourty thought from his position in the middle of the Patriots’ defense. His exact words were, “They had some stuff lined up, but I felt we did a terrific job taking away, even some of the check-downs to Najee Harris.” On a number of plays, Johnson tried to split the safeties, but our pass coverage was excellent. They needed more time for their shot call, and our men played well trying to sack the quarterback.
There was a request for Trubisky to elaborate on how he might improve his downfield and intermediate passing. He appeared to place the blame on the offensive coordinator, saying, “Call concepts to get receivers there.” But after being given further information, Trubisky changed his mind.
When asked where he saw the safest on the field, he said, “in the middle.” When it comes to our outside matchups, we’re happy with them. Our receivers are top-notch. All of our team members are top-notch experts in their fields. We hope to launch attacks from all around the field and distribute the ball to our key players. In other words, there is no area in which we could not improve.
Trubisky did, though, hint that tension was rising in the huddle. He advised me to “keep to the plan” (maintenance of the strategy). Everyone has a different vision for what the offense may or should be, but we need to work together as a team.
To succeed, we need everyone to maintain their investment. There will be excellent plays and there will be poor ones. Our offensive is young, and we’re all still learning how to work together effectively.
The best course of action you can do right now is to keep investing in the plan. Perform your duties to the best of your ability, whatever they may be. You can learn a lot about the film’s strengths and weaknesses by watching it again in retrospect.
If something is working, you do more of it and possibly less of something else. That’s how you improve as an offense, in my opinion. Call this play, call that play!’ is making it difficult for everyone to execute their jobs.
I think everyone should focus on what they can control: their own work; that way, the company as a whole can continue to prosper. Okay, that’s how I see it.
Everyone, he added, has ideas to offer. You people have some ideas. Everyone.” Oh, yeah. Each player is eager to have possession of the ball. In the third quarter, with the Patriots ahead 17-6, the offense finally got going. It took the Patriots only 10 yards to score thanks to a dropped interception by Cam Sutton and a dropped punt by Gunner Olszewski.
In response, the Steelers used a no-huddle formation to cover 75 yards in 2 minutes and 49 seconds. On third-and-4, the winning touchdown pass went to Pat Freiermuth on a slant for 8 yards. Johnson made a diving catch to turn it into an 8-point play, bringing the Steelers to within three points.
On their last two possessions, though, they were unable to score a single first down. During the final 6:33 of the game, the Patriots scored all of their points on the ground.
According to Trubisky, “we threw in some tempo and it worked.” I suppose we can take a look at that if we decide to keep including it in the mix. But it is imperative that we keep searching for this sense of self while we travel.
We’ve got a lot of time ahead of us. We are continuing to gel as a unit, and that was a productive outing. We had several good plays, overall. Consequently, we might investigate that more if it’s something we’re interested in pursuing.
The important thing is to keep searching for who we really are. To have any chance of winning, we need everyone to put their weight behind the effort, work together, and, ultimately, for me to play better.
The Patriots got on the board first. After completing passes of 16 and 11 yards to Nelson Agholor, quarterback Mac Jones kicked a 28-yard field goal to put the Eagles up 3-0.
The Steelers, without Watt, typically lined up with three defensive tackles and an outside linebacker in a four-man front. Thanks to an interception by Minkah Fitzpatrick, the game was tied at 17.
The Steelers took over at their own 34 and plodded their way to a 48-yard gain in 16 plays. With 8:35 remaining in the first half, Chris Boswell kicked a field goal from 36 yards out to level the game. Johnson’s catch of a 17-yard pass on third-and-17 was a game-changer.
With 22 seconds remaining in the first half, the Patriots scored on a 44-yard pass from Jones to Agholor. To convert a third-and-three, Agholor darted along the right sideline before circling back to catch a poorly placed pass. It was an easy touchdown for Agholor as he sprang over Ahkello Witherspoon to make the catch. At halftime, the Patriots led 10-3 thanks to this score.