They simply did not get enough.
There are not enough points, 3rd tier conversions, or starting plays from the attack. There aren’t enough bags, junk food, or negative plays created by the defense. There wasn’t enough of any of the specials to really make a difference, and over the course of the three hours and 10 minutes of it all Thursday night, an air of inevitable rolled off Lake Erie and swallowed the Steelers through what they ended up as. 29-17 loss to the Browns at First Energy Arena.
The Steelers’ record 1-1 across the Ohio streak needs both victory and improvement in two critical areas if they can continue to develop into the type of team that will be able to stay relevant over the next couple of months this regular season.
One of those crucial areas was the overall offensive performance that was simply not of NFL caliber during games in Cincinnati or the following week against the Patriots at Acresor Stadium. The other area was a thin defense that allowed New England to burn the final 6:33 off the clock by running the ball in 10 of 11 passes and then rubbing salt into the wound by taking the knee three times to grab three times. point win.
During the first half of Thursday night, the Steelers seemed to be handling their to-do list very well, and the offensive approach was leading the show by being aesthetically pleasing and more functional than it has been so far at any point in time. this chapter.
The Steelers had five offensive possessions in the first half, none of which finished with a hat-trick. They turned 30 total plays, and because they only faced three downswings showed they were effective in the first and second touchdowns at getting enough yardage to move the sticks. They averaged 5.5 yards per lunge attempt and scored two rushing touchdowns – 5 yards by Nagy Harris and 1 yard designed around the right end by Mitch Trubesky. They were 2 for 2 in the red, and Trubisky averaged 8.4 yards per pass attempt.
“I thought (Trubesky) put in some plays, but we all came up short,” said coach Mike Tomlin. “This is how we measure performance. Winning is our business, we haven’t taken business. We don’t take that apart and look for complacency.”
This is how Tomlin always reacts to the performance of specific individuals or units in the context of a game that ends in defeat, but it is also more accurate to view what was accomplished in the first half as a step forward, a necessary step forward in which – which.
Entering this game, the Steelers’ offense ranked 23rd or worse in the NFL in seven of the nine significant statistical categories, the only two categories in which it was better than 23rd were in sacks allowed and interceptions. Additionally, Trubisky ranked 32 among all quarterbacks in yards per attempt (5.1), which screams Dink-and-dunk. The team was tied by 19 points per game.
“We have a lot of playmakers, and we just have to try to get the ball,” Trubesky said. “I think when the ball moves, everyone is happy. When we score, everyone is happy. So it’s just going to come from everyone sticking together, everyone doing their job and getting the ball to the playmakers.”
In that first inning against Brown, of Trubisky’s 9 completions, there were a 36-yard circus catch by George Pickens, 20 yards by Chase Claypool, and 16 yards by Diontae Johnson. And there was not once an example of trying to divert possession by throwing the ball away from the sticks in the hope that the receiver could use sleight of feet to catch the necessary yards after being caught. In addition, nine of the 30 plays were played without an audience.
“We took some punches in the field, and we just needed to tackle them,” Trubesky said. “I can throw a better ball. They made some great saves, we can make more. We just need to keep (working). It was good, something we can improve (on) and keep going.”
And while the running defense didn’t evoke any memories of the steel curtain, it’s worth noting that the Steelers’ attack outperformed the Cleveland, 88-79, in the first half, save for a few crashes that resulted in a 36-yard run to Nick Chubb and an 18-yard run Kareem Hunt, the Browns were limited to less than 3 yards in their other 10 attempts.
But in the second half, which began with the Steelers leading 14-13, it all fell apart. The offense finished 1-9 in the third defeats, which was a significant contributing factor to the straight three and three in which Brown scored 10 points to lead 23-14. In the second half, the Steelers only rushed for 16 yards, and while Trubisky completed 11 of 19, his yards on each attempt dropped dramatically to 4.9. Claypool had a chance to play in the middle of the field, and Johnson had a chance to play on the sidelines, but neither of them were able to complete those picks.
What qualified as attacking highlights in the final 30 minutes of the game were two saves by Pat Freymouth – one from 26 yards and one from 15 – and those were played back-to-back in the final three minutes of the game when the Steelers were overheated. Trying to split Brown advance 9 points.
The biggest issue, however, was the way Brown physically controlled the streak of scrimmage to allow Chap and Hunt to take control of the game and allow Cleveland to own the ball for 19 minutes, 24 seconds into the second half, including 11:18 from the fourth quarter. Chubb took advantage of the 113-yard dash to finish, while Hunt added another 47 to help Brown finish with 171 on the floor.
In their first possession in the second half, the Browns put together a 14-play, 80-yard finish with a field goal, then three times by a Steelers attack, followed by an 11-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown.
“It’s our fault. Three players, if you get those, you’re on the sidelines,” Cam Heyward said of the disparity in acquisition time. “As a defense, we didn’t go off the field. We lost the damn game. I don’t know what’s more frustrating than that. They ran the ball; we kicked our ass. It’s as simple as that.”
It’s easy to explain, perhaps, but not so much when it comes to fixing the problem. When the Steelers finished the 2021 season last in the NFL in running defense, season-long injuries to Stefon Tweet and Tyson Alwalo were thought to be contributing factors as was the playing of a trio of midfielders. But during the sabbatical, the Steelers made moves to fortify the interior of their defense by re-signing Alualu and adding 255 pounds inside linebacker Miles Jack and 305 pounds defensive line Larry Ogunjobi. Being bullied along the line of scrimmage was supposed to be a thing of the past, but on Thursday night in Cleveland it reared its ugly head once again.
“Tell me,” Tomlin said when asked about the quality of the Steelers’ handling. “(Chip) was running through arm tackles and things like that, getting yards after contact. He wasn’t good enough. I thought they controlled the match, man. They had the ball. Nick Chubb was controlling the match.”
After the loss to the Patriots, it seemed that if crime didn’t pick things up quickly, the season could be in jeopardy. One week later, the Steelers stare at a more serious threat.