The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a Week 6 bind, sitting at a record of 3-3 following the first 6 weeks of the 2021 NFL season. After an impressive Week 1 victory in Buffalo, the Steelers found a way to lose three consecutive games against quality opponents, putting themselves in a tough situation to start out the season. Fortunately for SteelerNation, the Steelers have bounced back in back to back weeks with victories against quality opponents at Heinz Field, putting themselves two games back of the AFC North crown and currently sit as the 7th seed in the AFC, if the season had ended today.
Obviously, being a .500 team at this point in the season is not totally ideal, but after the slow start we had to begin the season, being 3-3 at this point in time was the absolute best option heading into the bye week. What has captured my attention during this minor two-game winning streak has been how our offensive production has increased rapidly. Although our offense has not failed to score any points so far this season, it seems like our offense, led by Ben Roethlisberger, has started to gain momentum as the season progresses, ultimately leading into more wins as the season passes by, or at least we hope that’s the case.
A lot was made of the digression in Roethlisberger’s arm strength and questioned his ability to still play the quarterback position at a high level. The first three games, there was a point to be made. He was missing receivers on open routes all throughout the field and seemed to be questioning himself with every throw he made. There is no denying that the first three games were a struggle for not only Roethlisberger himself, but the offense as a whole as they struggled to find their identity early in the year. Rightfully so, there are many new pieces on this offense (especially on the offensive line), whether that be a rookie or a free agent signing, all looking to make a name for themselves, while still trying to win football games for a team built to win now.
Good thing for this team is that in the past two weeks, this team has seemed to slowly find their identity, putting out back to back positive showings on the offensive side of the ball. Roethlisberger still seems to have a strong connection with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool with both nearing the 400-yard mark with over 25 targets each. As of late, we have started to see a connection brewing with rookie TE Pat Freiermuth and Roethlisberger himself especially after this past week’s performance, and we can only assume we will see more of that time come (especially after JuJu Smith-Schuster was placed on IR with a shoulder injury, ending his season).
The passing game seems to be moving in the right direction, Roethlisberger’s arm is still strong and his accuracy problems have slowly dwindled over the past few weeks. A good reason for that has to be the coming out party that has happened with rookie running back Najee Harris. Harris struggled during the first few games just as much as anyone did. He was carrying the ball over 10 times a game but did not seem to be finding all of the holes the offensive line was making for him throughout the game. It was clear that he still had not made the adjustment to the NFL level, but that did not take much time to come into effect. Harris has been on a roll lately, enabling this team to become that balanced offense they have been looking for. Harris being productive week to week is what will put this team exactly where they want to be. Harris has been on a roll lately ever since the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, rushing the ball 76 times for a total of 305 yards and 2 touchdowns while also getting involved in the passing game having totaled 28 receptions for 197 yards and a solo touchdown. He is starting to become the type of running back that can carry a load, exactly what this team is looking for with an aging quarterback.
Although this team has one two impressive games in a row, what this offense has failed to do is close games out. In the past two weeks, the Steelers have held leads of over 10 points heading into halftime to then be outscored in the second half. Instead of putting a team away late by putting more points on the board, they have had to rely on the efforts of their defense in order to stop the opponent from making a comeback. I know this organization is used to being led by their defense, this offense is built to score points, and then keep scoring more, and I think everyone involved with that unit is well aware.
Do you think this offense will be able to keep this momentum up? Comment below!