Just when it looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers had finally climbed out of their slump, they yet again found a way to disappoint us. After falling short in ugly back-to-back performances against the Cardinals and Patriots, Mike Tomlin's team was ultimately humiliated by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15.
Things started off with a bang for Pittsburgh. In their opening offensive possession, the Steelers managed a whopping zero yards in a three-and-out. That's why they started to give fans false hope. And we all bought it like the suckers we are.
Pittsburgh's defense made a big stop early in the game that allowed Mitch Trubisky and the offense to cap off a 54-yard touchdown drive on the following possession. Just two minutes later, Pittsburgh's special teams blocked a punt, and linebacker Nick Herbig recovered the ball at the one yard line. Trubisky then dumbed the ball in the flats to Diontae Johnson for their second TD of the game.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
Pittsburgh held a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter (Chris Boswell missed the extra point after the first score). That's when the Colts started to put the Steelers to shame.
Indianapolis came alive in the second quarter -- scoring 14 points in the 12 minutes before halftime. While the Colts held the momentum, the Steelers were still very much alive with just a one-point deficit. Sadly, Mike Tomlin's team stalled on offense, and their defense couldn't stop a nosebleed. Eventually, Pittsburgh surrendered 30 unanswered points.
What went wrong for the Steelers in Week 15?
Things didn't start bad for the Steelers. Early in the second quarter when they held a 13-0 lead, it seemed like there was a solid chance they would emerge victorious and advance to 8-6 on the season. But we underestimated just how bad this football team is in 2023.
Following a promising start, Mitch Trubisky completely fell apart -- so much so that the Steelers turned to Mason Rudolph late in the fourth quarter (something Mike Tomlin insisted he had no interest in doing).
The defense is an even bigger problem than the offense in this contest. While T.J. Watt earned a pair of sacks early the defensive line was manhandled as they allowed 170 yards and 5.0 yards per carry on the ground, per ESPN stats. The linebackers and the secondary were even worse. They somehow managed to make QB Gardner Minshew look like Patrick Mahomes. Minshew finished the game with 215 yards with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions on just 28 attempts for a 123.4 passer rating.
The Steelers allowed 30 straight points in the 30-13 loss. Following their third straight defeat, Pittsburgh is now 7-7 entering their final three games of the season, and their playoff hopes just went down the tubes.
Mike Tomlin needs to shoulder a lion's share of the blame for his third straight loss. Though he was missing players on both sides of the ball, he once again was outcoached and couldn't find a way to make adjustments. This was a disgrace of a performance.
Now Pittsburgh will likely have to win out and hope that a few other AFC teams fall apart down the stretch just to have a shot at a Wild Card spot. What has happened to this team? This isn't the Pittsburgh Steelers that we used to know.