2022: Steelers start new era, but fail to make playoffs despite promising stretch run
Pittsburgh, trying to replace the retired Roethlisberger, again started with a road upset in the season-opener, knocking off the Bengals, 23-20, in overtime.
Cue the traditional three-game losing streak (actually four this time), as the Steelers dropped winnable games to New England (17-14), Cleveland (29-17), and the New York Jets (24-20). Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett made his first appearance in the latter game and made his first career start the next week in a 38-3 defeat at Buffalo.
The Steelers would eventually fall to 2-6 on the year, before rallying after their "bye week". Pickett kept improving and led Pittsburgh to wins in seven of its last nine games to finish with Tomlin's 16th straight non-losing season at 9-8 overall.
The Steelers were one of the hottest teams in the NFL over the last two months of the season, losing to only the playoff-bound Bengals (37-30) and Ravens (16-14) at home during that span. But those losses, coupled with the slow start, kept Pittsburgh one win away from a playoff berth.
Despite not making the post-season, Pickett's play down the stretch, leading the Steelers to four consecutive wins to end the year, built hope for the future. In addition, the Steelers' defense didn't allow more than 17 points in each of the last seven games.