The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly find themselves in a better situation on Monday than they found themselves last week. At this time a week ago, this team was in sole possession of last place in their respective division sitting at a record of 1-3 and had lost their last three games against good teams. The season came up on this team quickly and many throughout the NFL media were ready to throw in the towel on the Steelers after the rough start to the season. The season is young and it is very early on, and as of today, we now sit a game back of first place in the AFC North following our win this weekend vs the Denver Broncos and losses by division rivals.
This weekend’s performance was unlike any other we have seen to start this 2021 campaign — and I mean that in a good way. Following Sunday’s victory, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was quoted as saying, “We just wanted to win the game and we did that” and honestly, I couldn’t have put it any better myself. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories; the bright spot was that our offensive unit seemed to be gaining some momentum and building trust within each other week by week and it showed. This was the second weekend in a row where our offense scored on the opening drive after failing to do so in the previous performances, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 10, 2021
What caught my eye is that this offense finally seems to be doing what they have been wanting to do all season: RUN THE FOOTBALL. This was rookie running back Najee Harris’ first 100-yard performance in a Steelers uniform, rushing the ball 23 times for 122 yards and a touchdown, proving to all of SteelerNation that he can be the workhorse we all want and expect him to be. Our young offensive line group stepped up and held their own against one of the top defensive fronts in the league with Broncos OLB Von Miller not making things any easier. Our line was getting a consistent push upfront allowing Harris to gain 5.3 yards per carry. Having early consistent success in the rushing game allows for Roethlisberger and the playmakers at the receiving position to do what they do best.
Roethlisberger was able to throw the ball downfield with much more success this past week than in the previous four other games. I wouldn’t say it was as consistent as they would like, but at this point, this passing attack is going to take anything they can get. We saw Roethlisberger connect with Diontae Johnson on a 50-yard touchdown completion on the first drive of the game and saw Chase Claypool make a couple receptions for more than 20 yards including an 18-yard touchdown grab at the end of the third quarter, ending the day with 5 receptions for 135 yards and that single touchdown.
Clearly, the performance by Harris and this rushing attack is what enabled this offense to be as successful as they were. In hindsight, I don’t think this team would like to see Harris rushing the ball 23 times per game on a consistent basis and his workload is something that might be monitored throughout the year, but this offensive performance just goes to show what they are capable of on any given week, despite the conflicting reports.
At the end of the day, this football team found a way to win, and that is all that matters to them. Roethlisberger’s quote is the standard of this football team, they just want to win football games and do not care how it is done. Although Roethlisberger is aging, this offense is in a good position to be set up for success with the playmakers surrounding him, and if this team can run the ball as consistently as they did Sunday, that is a recipe for consistent success.
Do YOU think this past week’s offensive performance was a fluke? Or is this the “new normal” from now on? Comment below!