When you say the Steelers’ offense is taking baby steps, there’s no hyperbole attached to that.
But those baby steps continue to move forward and not backward. It is no coincidence that ever since Kenny Pickett has been inserted into the lineup, 14 quarters into the season, the Steelers’ offense has continued to progress and very well might turn into something by the end of the season.
You aren’t going to see improvement by leaps and bounds week after week, but how many times in a row have you said that the Steelers’ offense played their best game of the year? At least the past four games since the bye, with Sunday’s 19-16 win over the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium being the best of the bunch.
The offensive line might have played its best game of the year — allowing no sacks and helping Pittsburgh to 154 yards rushing — and probably deserves the most of the credit. Najee Harris put together his third consecutive solid game (minus the Colts game, where he got hurt) with 86 yards on 17 carries (5.1 average). Pickett hasn’t turned the ball over in 128 pass attempts and, ahem, Matt Canada has been sticking to what has worked.
“We are close,” tight end Pat Freiermuth said, who led the Steelers with 76 yards receiving, including a 57-yard catch-and-run.
But the reality is that while you can see the tangible improvement with the offense since the bye, you shouldn’t need a Minkah Fitzpatrick interception in the waning moments of a game you pretty much dominated statistically to get the win.
The Steelers’ continued inability to turn field goals into touchdowns didn’t hurt them against the Falcons, but there is a time in the not-very-distant future — maybe as early as next week’s game against the Ravens — where it’s going to cost them a game. Maybe that doesn’t matter this year, with them being 5-7 and failing to win consecutive games until December. But for this offense to continue to grow, that’s the next step.
Matthew Wright kicked four field goals to the Steelers’ one touchdown. Pittsburgh has an unhealthy discrepancy between field goals (26) and touchdowns (19) this year and is pretty fortunate to have even five wins.