The Steelers last two victories have followed an extremely similar blueprint. After falling behind early, the Steelers offense has forged a comeback while the defense tightened for the team to take a lead.
Then, unable to run the clock out, the team has had to rely on its defense to secure victory in the final minutes. Each time, it took two such late-game stops by the defense to secure the win.
But despite the blueprint’s success as the team has improved to 8-0 to start the 2020 season, it’s not one they’re trying to follow. The slow starts on both sides of the ball are concerning.
“We’ve got a group that sticks together, a group that is mentally tough and able to persevere,” head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game. “I’m thankful for that, but obviously, we can’t keep having these conversations every week. We’ll be doing it with an L if we’re not careful.”
Ben Roethlisberger put the onus on himself, saying that he needs to do more early in the game.
“I just need to play better,” he said. “I’m not converting the throws that I need to and I’ll take the blame for that. I need to play better in order for this team to start faster and try and get elite.”
Roethlisberger said, and there’s some truth to his statement. He threw for 24 yards in the first half against Baltimore and 111 against Dallas. In the second half, he threw for 158 against the Ravens and 195 against the Cowboys. So he’s been better in the second halves of these games.
But the bigger issue has been the that the team has started each game with an attempt to be balanced and has been unable to maintain drives while running the ball.
James Conner averaged 3.1 yards per carry at Baltimore and an awful 2.4 yards per carry at Dallas. When the Steelers’ offense has come alive in the second half of games, it’s been with Roethlisberger directing a no-huddle attack out of a four-wide receiver formation.
“We didn’t do what we wanted to do today, we didn’t control the ball,” Roethlisberger said.
While the Steelers obviously feel good about being 8-0 to start the season, they’ll probably feel better about if their next game can follow a script with a faster start and less drama at the finish.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Delivers Meals to Seniors on Thanksgiving
With his team suddenly off, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster spent his Thanksgiving morning giving back to the Pittsburgh community.
Smith-Schuster — along with his dog, Boujee — helped deliver meals to less fortunate seniors in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
“It’s always been a passion in my heart,” Smith-Schuster said. “I think it’s huge when people give back.”
Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster delivers meals to seniors on Thanksgiving pic.twitter.com/bEClYxPvrO
— JoAnne Harrop (@joannescoop) November 26, 2020
The Steelers aren’t playing on Thursday because their scheduled game with the Baltimore Ravens was pushed back to Sunday due to a COVID-19 outbreak with the Ravens.
After the team practiced Tuesday and Wednesday in anticipation of a Thursday kickoff, head coach Mike Tomlin gave the team the day off on Thursday.
Steelers President Art Rooney II Extends Thanks, Appreciation to Fans
On the heels of such an unpleasant day for many Steelers fans, and even a day that left several players filled with bitterness and animosity because their game was postponed, Steelers president Art Rooney II issued a statement on Thanksgiving morning.
In the spirit of giving thanks and moving on, Rooney expressed his disappointment about the current situation and his appreciation for the support of all of Steelers Nation.
“Though we are disappointed that we will not get to play for our fans on Thanksgiving night this year, we look forward to many more exciting times during the 2020 season,” Rooney said. “Today gives us all a time to reflect and appreciate what we can be thankful for on this holiday. And I want to add a special note of thanks to all our frontline workers for all your tireless efforts in these difficult times.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 26, 2020
Barring no more issues, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are now scheduled to kickoff at 1:15 pm EST. Just as the game would’ve been Thursday night, it will be broadcast on NBC.
Steelers Tops Among All Teams in Pro Bowl Votes; T.J. Watt Leads OLBs
The Pittsburgh Steelers lead all NFL clubs in votes cast for the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl, the league announced on Wednesday, with outside linebacker T.J. Watt the top vote-getter at his position.
The Steelers led all teams in votes, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills, and did so despite not having any players in the top five overall vote-getters and just two players leading at their position.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has the most votes of any individual player, with 143,355 votes, followed by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
For the Steelers, Watt leads all vote-getters at outside linebacker with 69,924 votes. Watt is a two-time Pro Bowler and is coming off a first-team All-Pro season in 2019. He’s currently tied for third in the NFL with nine sacks, one-half behind leaders Trey Hendrickson of New Orleans and Myles Garrett of Cleveland. Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears paced the NFC’s outside linebackers with 47,689 votes.
The Steelers’ other top vote-getter comes at an unusual position. Long snapper Kameron Canaday leads all AFC long snappers with 48,869 votes. Canaday, in his fifth NFL season and fourth with the Steelers, has never made the Pro Bowl.
While the teams will still be selected, the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl will not be played. Instead the Pro Bowl events will be led virtually and the game will be streamed via Madden NFL 21. The game had been scheduled to be played at Allegiant Stadium in las Vegas on Jan. 31. Voting will continue through Dec. 17.