For the second consecutive week, the Pittsburgh Steelers found a way to emerge victorious at home. Unfortunately, that hasn't made everyone happy. Following their win over the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh's record stands at a comfortable 6-3 win-loss total. Fans want more, but are their complaints justified?
Let's start with the positives. The Steelers did a lot of things right in this game. The offensive line straight-up bullied the Packers' defensive front. This led to a season-high 205 rushing yards for Pittsburgh's offense. Both Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren were able to punch in a score on the ground.
Additionally, Pittsburgh's defense was once again a 'bend-but-don't-break' unit. Though they allowed 399 total yards, they made some big plays and held QB Jordan Love and company under 20 points and preserved a Steelers one-point victory.
A large portion of the fan base, however, isn't satisfied with how games are being won. This team can't seem to blow out inferior opponents. Even though the Packers lost four of their last five games before this contest and were missing several of their best players, Pittsburgh allowed them to hang around until the very end.
Fans, bloggers, and media personnel weren't thrilled. Everything that has ensued has displayed frustration. The concerns were heard all over social media.
Despite winning, Steelers fans' complaints are legitimate.
I'm not trying to be that 'glass half empty' critic, but I do try to be a realist when it comes to evaluating the game. There were a lot of concerning notes after watching live, and these were amplified once I studied the film from the Steelers vs. Packers game on the morning that followed.
For as well as the Steelers ran the football and how easily they won the turnover battle, this was a close game throughout. The Packers held the lead at one point late in the third quarter.
The Steelers kicked the go-ahead field goal late. They rushed for 205 yards and earned a pair of interceptions on defense. This game shouldn't have come down to the wire, but it did.
The biggest complaint from this contest was the concerning performance of Kenny Pickett. The former first-round pick completed just 14 of 23 passes for a mere 126 yards (5.5 yards per attempt). He also boasted a cringeworthy 75.6 passer rating.
Pickett didn't turn the ball over in this contest, but he did throw three ill-advised passes. Each could have been picked off by Packers defenders. In addition to his questionable decision-making, he rarely tested Green Bay by passing over the middle of the field. In fact, he avoided it like the plague.
While part of this might be the play design and a game plan that was designed to limit risks, Pickett only had one pass of 20+ yards in this game.
He didn't have a single completion of more than five yards in the middle of the field. That just won' cut it against better teams.
The ultimate goal is to win football games to get to the playoffs and make a run at a Super Bowl title. Most fans, however, realize that Pittsburgh's recipe for success isn't sustainable in the postseason.
This team is completely capped out on offense. Despite terrific offensive line play and an awesome rushing attack, the Steelers were only able to muster up 23 points in a four-point win despite having ten days to prepare to face a depleted Packers team without cornerback Jaire Alexander and linebacker Quay Walker.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are finding ways to win these one-score games against average NFL opponents, but it's hard to be satisfied with the taste of victory knowing that this is still an average team.
Even on paper, the offense is terrible. Pickett needs to be much better to give these discouraged fans hope that this team can go anywhere in the playoffs.