The Steelers looked like a different unit this week, actually finding consistent success on offense. While the unit was far from perfect, it found a way to consistently get down the field and keep the score up. The defense, likewise, wasn’t perfect either, but they did just enough to win.
This week was a weird one to find winners and losers from. While it was a win, and that is all that matters, it was a sloppy game that nearly ended in a loss. We have an almost even split of winners and losers this week, and here they are from the Steelers' 16-10 win in week 12.
It was a feel-good when Trenton Thompson finally got an interception this week. He had one bounce out of his hands a week ago and nearly snagged another one earlier in this game. He had a great play in coverage on his pick though, and he finally got his turnover. He has played well so far in a depleted safety room.
I went back and forth on whether Kenny Pickett deserves to be on the winner's list. On one hand, he showed some progress this week, pushing more balls down the field and over the middle of the field. On the other, he failed to find the endzone and still struggled with his accuracy and ability to go through progressions. I’ll settle for baby steps here. I still want more, but I’ll take a little victory for now.
For the first time this season, it seemed like Pat Freiermuth was used properly in this game. He was targeted down the seam twice and served as a safety valve for the offense in the passing game. One of my biggest issues with Matt Canada was his lack of involvement with the tight ends. That was put to rest this week.
I am all for bouncing back and forth between the Steelers' running backs each week on the winner's list. Frankly, that is the only way this offense is going to sustain success. Najee Harris was the better of the two this week, and his power was on full display. A great performance from a player under a lot of scrutiny.
Like Pickett, I toyed with leaving Jaylen Warren off this list entirely, but I think he deserves to be on the losers list. A little less explosive than a week ago, his overall performance was very average. You would have liked to see him keep his momentum up. Add in his fumble and it was a letdown of a week following a career-best game.
It was an ugly day for the special teams unit, and penalties weren’t the only issue. The Steelers failed to down a ball early in the game despite Miles Boykin being in a position to down it effectively. Add in the kick return in the second half given up and it was a sloppy showing for this team.
On paper, this team did everything right this week. They had an effective run game, an offense that rebounded, and stifled the Bengals to only ten points. Despite finally outgaining an opponent and effectively flipping the script, this team still just scrapped by. They will need to score more if they want to remain competitive.
A win is a win, and it keeps the Steelers playoff hopes alive for another week. That said, there are still a lot of improvements that need to be made. It was a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go for this team.