The Pittsburgh Steelers knew they would be hosting a difficult Jacksonville Jaguars team in Acrisure Stadium on Sunday. Both teams came into the contest with momentum, though in varying degrees of comfort. The postseason conference implications for playoff seeding was an underlying storyline as well. In the end, the Steelers couldn't overcome a number of external factors, nor their own ineptitude, to secure a victory.
The process of the game was nothing short of frustrating for fans as the offense, while more aggressive in its playcalling, started slow again and struggled to find consistency. An injury to Kenny Pickett certainly exacerbated things, but a lack of targets for George Pickens and a nonexistent run game didn't help matters.
Defensively, the Steelers played better against the run early but struggled to disrupt Jacksonville enough to keep them out of scoring range. The defense also lost Minkah Fitzpatrick, which made scanning the field easier for Trevor Lawrence.
Between the elements, injuries, weird officiating, and lack of execution, the Steelers had a rough day at the office in a 10-point loss. That leaves plenty to improve upon heading into Week 9 with a chance to get back on track against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.
The Good: More Aggression in Offensive Play-Calling
The first play from scrimmage was a tell-tale sign the Steelers would be aggressive in their offensive approach. It's a wonder how different the game would have been if Pickett had connected with Johnson on the play.
While Pittsburgh went three-and-out on its first four drives, the intention was there. The execution was not. Drive after drive, the Steelers were sleepwalking with the ball in their hands.
Of course, that did change on the 12-play, 93-yard scoring drive, though with just a field goal. Pittsburgh marched the field a long way, making chunk plays along the way. On the following drive, the Steelers needed points before the half to tighten the deficit and were moving well before the officiating fiasco led to a no-call roughing play that injured Pickett and took points off the board.
In the second half, Trubisky took a bit to warm into the game before making a few splash plays. George Pickens was barely out of bounds on what was technically his first target of the game, which killed the second drive.
The following drive gave the Steelers some hope as an eight-play drive ended with a Pickens touchdown.
Credit to Matt Canada for shaking up his playcalling. Some of the old tropes were there, like a failed red zone shovel pass on the field goal drive, but overall, he took a step in the right direction. As this series has stressed all season long, even if the execution is nearly perfect, his offense isn't designed to be explosive enough to be respected by a fanbase that expects to be at the top of the food chain in the league. It's a step in the right direction, but it's still not quite enough to get this team where it wants and needs to be.