CINCINNATI — Did the Steelers’ offense look a little different against the Bengals? Well, it should have. The team took more shots down the field, opened up the middle of the field, and, in general, changed some things up from personnel usage in their 16-10 win.
It was not unintentional. The Steelers came into the game with interim offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner and play-caller Mike Sullivan varied things up. But running back Jaylen Warren gave a straight shot on what the team did to change on Sunday: there was more communication and a less risk-averse offense.
“More communication and more, I don’t know how to say this without being too explicit, but more willingness to take shots. Taking more risks,” Warren said on the difference between the new offense from Matt Canada’s offense.
That’s the cold, hard truth from Warren. Not everything got fixed, but things started to click together. The Steelers gained 400 yards for the first time this season and for the first time since 2020, and quarterback Kenny Pickett posted the second-highest single-game passer rating of his career at 97.8; they still have much to accomplish, especially in the red zone.
16 points against the Cincinnati Bengals still don’t translate to many victories against playoff teams. But, the process of the game might translate to wins. The Steelers did an excellent job of putting guys like Pat Freiermuth into better spots to succeed. That allowed the team to open their horizons.
But it represented a significant step forward for the Steelers. And as Mike Tomlin said, more importantly, they did it in a victory.
“We did what we needed to do to win,” Tomlin said. “Guys like myself and Kenny, we’re judged based on winning and losing, and we don’t run from that, we run to that. He and I are winners today.”
But the Steelers had been winning. They were 6-4 before they fired Canada and had won two of their last three. But the offense was going backward and would end sooner rather than later. Now, they can feel out the learning process from the new offense, but it is going upward.