The Steelers offense went up against the best defense in the NFL and could not do enough to combat a good team.
In a game that screamed a bad outcome before it began, fans of the black and gold still held onto hope. The offense seemed to have a spark with Kenny Pickett at quarterback, so maybe there would be a different outcome than many were predicting. Sadly, for those loyal customers to the Steelers cause, the result was a painful reality that seemed to shine through.
Even though the offense did sustain some quality drives, there were some falters both by players and coaches combined that laid eggs on the field. It was an ugly performance by the away team in this contest as they could not answer the Bills. The game should bring most to the realization that Pittsburgh’s football team will not be contending this year.
Kenny Pickett played well but needs to find ways to finish drives
Everyone in the city that follows the black and gold knew what kind of things were at stake for Pickett and his future in this contest. The rookie first-round pick displayed confidence against the Jets last week, and it seemed like it could carry over to this game. Pickett played with swagger and was able to make plays down the field to keep the game competitive early.
Pittsburgh seems like a different offense with this rookie taking the reins at the signal-caller position. Players are both figuratively and literally fighting for each other while he is on the field. A couple of bad drops by his receivers killed drives, which could have led to more points and a closer game than we saw.
Najee Harris continues to be a disappointment on the ground
After a couple of weeks of the running game showing some signs of hope, they smashed that into a billion pieces. The offensive line could not block well against the elite front that Buffalo bolsters on the other side of the ball. On top of that Najee Harris does not seem like the same type of back that he showed in his rookie season.
Perhaps he is still injured or maybe he is struggling with his game right now, but Harris is not the same kind of factor he was a season ago. Jaylen Warren continues to bring some pep into the running games step when he gets one of his limited chances to carry the ball. Warren seems like he should get an expanded role on offense going forward as the Steelers struggle.
Each receiver not named George Pickens continues to be a big letdown
Diontae Johnson is back to consistently dropping the football after having one of the best drop rates in the NFL last season. He dropped some catches that he should have made that could have resulted in a fourth down conversion and touchdown. George Pickens is the number one receiver for this offense, and he is night and day better than anyone out there.
Chase Claypool and Johnson are the most disappointing players on this roster as many thought they would have big seasons. Pickens is the real deal and the only reason why this grade got a plus in front of it. Calvin Austin III will hopefully add another weapon to this offense to bench one of these overhyped names like Claypool or Johnson.
Zach Gentry made some plays for the Steelers at tight end
A lot of things happened at tight end for the Steelers and some of those situations could last a while. The position was not developed into the plan of attack against the Bills much, so grading these players was difficult. Sadly, Pat Freiermuth suffered another concussion, which could become a career concern at this point.
Zach Gentry had some nice moments in this matchup that will hopefully instill some confidence moving forward. One should assume that Freiermuth will likely be out a couple of weeks or more as he works to come back from a concussion. Not a terrible performance by this group, but they were not targeted often either.
The offensive line had a setback this past week against the Bills
So many things could have gone wrong for the offense line of Pittsburgh, and they did. Buffalo was their toughest challenge yet, and this group faltered beyond recognition. Before this game, the offensive line of the Steelers seemed to be improving, but the Bills made sure to shove their faces in the dirt.
James Daniels stood up for Pickett after a bad hit, which did earn him some brownie points. The rest of the line allowed constant pressure and ineptitude in run blocking that reached an embarrassing level. This group took a big step backward this past week and they will need to work their way back just to get to average.
Steelers overall offensive grade: D-
At the end of the day, this offense was only able to add three points on the board. It does not matter how they got there, or which plays they missed, the Steelers could not add points to the board when it mattered. Pickett did show some things that you should like seeing from a rookie quarterback going up against a winning cause like the Bills.
He showed swagger and a will to get up and keep chugging along until the clock struck zero. Pickett did not quit on his team and that will be huge for him going forward against this grueling schedule. The rest of his offensive unit, besides Pickens, was deflated and sad to watch as they failed this team just as much as the Steelers defense did.
The Steelers offense was able to move the ball against this tough Bills defense with Pickett at quarterback. The missed points were the nail in the coffin for this club that was already falling apart.