When you cut through the layers of why Mitch Trubisky was always going to win the Steelers’ quarterback battle, it was because of his ability to take care of the ball.

Mike Tomlin made it abundantly clear since the day they signed Trubisky that one of his most attractable traits was his ability to not turn the ball over and, in especially critical situations, rely on a stout defense and make a play or two in the end to steal a game.

Sound familiar? Sounds like what happened in Cincinnati on Sunday, no? The offense was painful to watch. If a pass went past 5 yards, it was notable. And forget about exploiting the Bengals’ suspect corners with three deep-ball weapons in Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and George Pickens.

With this Steelers defense, the plan (against the Bengals and for the foreseeable future) is based a lot on what happened in 2019, when Mason Rudolph (who had yet to attempt an NFL pass before that season) and Division I-AA tryout Duck Hodges had the Steelers at 8-5 and within a win at oft-beaten N.Y. Jets of making the playoffs.

Until Kenny Pickett is ready, the Steelers’ stubbornness of believing they can win it all every year has led them to Trubisky — a highly calculated and yet highly flawed thrower when the ball travels more than 20 yards down the field.

On Sunday, what you saw was what you got. It’s not going to get much better, but it’s not going to get worse, either. How many wins that translates to likely won’t be enough to make the playoffs in this transition year but it gives them a chance … a boring chance.

Play defense, don’t turn the ball over, get an early lead and grind out wins. That’s the way the Steelers are going to win in 2022. When that happened in Week 1 against the defending division and conference champion Bengals (23-20 in overtime), we were critical of the aesthetics associated with the victory, especially the lack of pushing the ball down the field at a consistent and acceptable rate.

Despite having the luxury of a plus-five turnover ratio, the Steelers needed a couple of miracle missed kicks by one of the best kickers in the league to beat the Bengals, along with a couple of other self-inflicted wounds by the Bengals and their coaching staff. What would happen if there weren’t four interceptions, a fumble and seven sacks by the defense?

Not good, right? Go to Kenny, right?

“I want to score points, I want this offense to score points and be aggressive,” Trubisky said. “When you see the defense create that many turnovers, I know if we take care of the football, we’re going to be in it in the end. … We’ve got to turn it into touchdowns, not just field goals.”