The Pittsburgh Steelers advanced to 4-7 on the season with a win over the Colts on Monday Night Football. Here’s what we learned from the game.
Fans were torn on how to root for this Monday Night Football contest between the Steelers and Colts. A loss would have essentially shattered any hope of Pittsburgh clawing back into the hunt this year, but a win would greatly decrease the value of their draft capital. Though it certainly wasn’t pretty, Mike Tomlin’s team pulled off the ‘W’ and advanced to 4-7 on the season — keeping playoff hopes dangling by a thread for at least another week.
This was an extremely up-and-down performance by the Steelers on both sides of the ball, and the difference between their first half and second half was night and day. In the end, Pittsburgh was able to overcome a sluggish second-half performance to hold onto a 24-17 win. Here are the biggest things we learned from Steelers win against the Colts:
Kenny Pickett can make some really nice throws
I’ve been very impressed with some of the throws I’ve seen Kenny Pickett make over the past two weeks. In addition to dropping the ball in a bucket 35 yards down the field to George Pickens on the sideline, Pickett had a few darts on out routes that kept the chains moving as well as a beautiful throw on the run to connect with Pickens on the two-point conversion attempt late in the game.
However, I think the best throw by the rookie QB came when he sat in the pocket, scanned the field, and took a lick. On this play, Pickett delivered a perfect football well past the sticks on 3rd and 9 to pick up the first down. His performance was far from perfect, but we definitely saw some encouraging signs on Monday Night Football.
Running backs don’t matter
I hate to burst your bubble, but if there’s ever a game that shows just why teams shouldn’t spend first-round draft capital on running backs, it was this one against the Colts. Pittsburgh ran Najee Harris heavily in the first half before an abdominal injury kept him out of the game. Prior to that point, he lumbered his way for just 35 yards on 10 carries (3.5 yards per carry), via ESPN stats.
At the same time, Pittsburgh’s offensive line made Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland look like the Walmart brand versions of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard as they combined for 92 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries (5.1 yards per attempt). This was a perfect example of why the blocking matter so much more than the back, and Pittsburgh’s OL performed well on the ground. Running games matter, but there are very few individual running backs that move the needle.
Steelers second-half coaching and execution are horrendous
I’m getting so sick of trying to watch Mike Tomlin and Matt Canada string together a game plan for the second half. I want to know what adjustments (if any) this team makes in the second half because they don’t seem to be working.
Since the bye week, Pittsburgh is averaging just 9.3 points over the final two quarters of action in each of their past three games (Saints, Bengals, and Colts). This compares to the 15.3 points they’ve scored in the first half over this span. As a result of the poor game plan in the second half against the Colts, Pickett had just 41 passing yards over the final two quarters and Pittsburgh had just one scoring drive. This needs to change if the Steelers want to be able to take that next step forward on offense.