They merely did not get sufficient.
Not sufficient issues or third-down conversions or splash performs from the offense. Not sufficient sacks or takeaways or unfavourable performs created by way of the protection. Not sufficient of anything else from particular groups to in reality make a distinction, and over the path of 3 hours and 10 mins price of all of that on Thursday evening, an air of inevitability rolled in off Lake Erie and engulfed the Steelers all the way through what ended up being a 29-17 loss to the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Steelers carted a 1-1 file throughout the Ohio line desiring each a victory and growth in a few important spaces in the event that they had been going to be ready to proceed growing into the more or less group that may be capable to staying related thru the subsequent couple of months of this common season.
One of the ones important spaces was once the total efficiency of an offense that merely wasn’t NFL caliber all the way through the video games in Cincinnati or the one the following week vs. the Patriots in Acrisure Stadium. The different space was once a softening run protection that had allowed New England to burn the ultimate 6:33 off the clock by way of operating the ball on 10 of eleven performs after which to rub salt into the wound by way of taking a knee 3 times to clinch a three-point win.
Through the first part on Thursday evening, the Steelers appeared to be dealing with their to-do checklist rather well, and the play of the offense was once main the parade by way of being each aesthetically pleasurable and more practical than it were thus far at any level of this season.
The Steelers had 5 offensive possessions in the first part, and none ended as three-and-outs. They ran 30 general performs, and since they confronted simplest 3 third-down scenarios that confirmed they had been environment friendly on first and 2d downs in gaining enough yardage to transfer the sticks. They averaged 5.5 yards according to dashing strive and scored two dashing touchdowns – on a 5-yard run by way of Najee Harris and on a 1-yard designed run round proper finish by way of Mitch Trubisky. They had been 2-for-2 in the pink zone, and Trubisky averaged 8.4 yards according to cross strive.
“I thought (Trubisky) made some plays, but we all collectively came up short,” stated Coach Mike Tomlin. “That’s how we measure performance. Winning is our business, and we didn’t handle business. We don’t break that apart and look for the feel-good.”
That’s at all times how Tomlin reacts to the efficiency of people or particular devices inside of the context of a recreation that leads to a defeat, however it is also correct to view what the offense achieved in that first part as a step ahead, and a important step ahead at that.
Coming into this recreation, the Steelers offense ranked twenty third or worse in the NFL in seven of 9 important statistical classes, and the simplest two through which it was once higher than twenty third was once in sacks allowed and interceptions thrown. In addition, Trubisky ranked thirty second amongst all quarterbacks in yards according to strive (5.1), which screams dink-and-dunk. The group was once tied-for-Nineteenth in issues scored according to recreation.
“We have a lot of playmakers, and we just have to try to get them the ball,” stated Trubisky. “I think when the ball is moving, everyone is happy. When we are scoring, everyone is happy. So, it’s just going to come from everyone sticking together, everyone doing their job and getting the playmakers the ball.”
In that first part towards the Browns, amongst Trubisky’s 9 completions had been a 36-yard circus catch by way of George Pickens, a 20-yarder to Chase Claypool, and a 16-yarder to Diontae Johnson. And now not as soon as was once there an instance of attempting to convert a ownership down by way of throwing the ball manner in need of the sticks and hoping the receiver may make the most of sleight of ft to pick out up the important yardage after the catch. In addition, 9 of the 30 performs had been run from the no-huddle.
“We took some shots downfield, and we just needed to come down with it,” stated Trubisky. “I can throw a better ball. They made some great catches, and we can make some more. We just need to continue to keep (working). It was good, and it is something we can improve (upon) and keep going.”
And whilst the run protection did not conjure any reminiscences of the Steel Curtain, it’s price citing that the Steelers operating assault outgained Cleveland’s, 88-79, in the first part, and with the exception of a pair cases of breakdowns that yielded a 36-yard run to Nick Chubb and an 18-yard run by way of Kareem Hunt, the Browns had been restricted to lower than 3-yards-a-carry on their different 10 makes an attempt.
But in the 2d part, which started with the Steelers keeping a 14-13 lead, the whole lot fell aside. The offense completed 1-for-9 on 0.33 downs, which was once an important contributing consider the 3 instantly three-and-outs all the way through which the Browns scored 10 issues to take a 23-14 lead. In the 2d part, the Steelers rushed for simplest 16 yards, and whilst Trubisky finished 11-of-19, his yards according to strive dropped considerably to 4.9. Claypool had a possibility to make a play down the center of the box, and Johnson had a possibility to make a play down the sideline, however neither was once ready to entire the ones catches.
What certified as the offensive highlights of the recreation’s ultimate half-hour had been two catches by way of Pat Freiermuth – one in every of 26 yards and some other of 15 yards – and the ones got here on back-to-back performs in the recreation’s ultimate 3 mins when the Steelers had been frantically attempting to slice into the Browns’ 9-point lead.
An even larger factor, then again, was once the method through which the Browns bodily ruled the line of scrimmage to permit Chubb and Hunt to take over the recreation and make allowance Cleveland to possess the ball for 19 mins, 24 seconds of the 2d part, together with 11:18 of the fourth quarter. Chubb took benefit to end with 113 yards dashing, whilst Hunt added some other 47 to lend a hand the Browns end with 171 on the floor.
On their first two possessions of the 2d part, the Browns put in combination a 14-play, 80-yard pressure that led to a box function, after which after a three-and-out by way of the Steelers offense, adopted up with an 11-play, 80-yard pressure for a landing.
“That’s our own fault. Three-and-outs, if you get those, you’re on the sideline,” stated Cam Heyward about the disparity in time of ownership. “As a defense, we did not get off the field. We lost the damn game. I don’t know what else is more demoralizing than that. They ran the ball; we got our ass kicked. Simple as that.”
Simple to give an explanation for, possibly, however now not such a lot when it comes to solving the downside. When the Steelers completed the 2021 season ranked ultimate in the NFL in run protection, season-long accidents to Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu had been idea to be contributing components as was once the play of a trio of slight inside of linebackers. But all the way through the offseason, the Steelers made strikes to strengthen the inner in their protection by way of re-signing Alualu and including 255-pound inside of linebacker Myles Jack and 305-pound defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi. Getting bullied alongside the line of scrimmage was once intended to be a factor of the previous, however on Thursday evening in Cleveland that reared its unsightly head once more.
“You tell me,” stated Tomlin in resolution to a query about the high quality of the Steelers’ tackling. “(Chubb) was running through arm tackles and things of that nature, getting yards after contact. It wasn’t good enough. I thought they controlled the game, man. They possessed the ball. Nick Chubb controlled the game.”
After the loss to the Patriots, it appeared that if the offense did not pick out issues up and briefly, the season may well be in jeopardy. One week later, the Steelers are observing a extra ominous danger.