By far the most frustrating thing about this Pittsburgh Steelers offense is simply the fact that they can be so much better. And the damned fact of the matter is that they are way closer than you might think. It’s just these small little issues and missed every so often that trip them up and have been holding them back all season.
Sunday’s game against the Colts was just chock full of them, and that is without even talking about the fact that they got into field goal range only to have their kicker miss his first attempt at a game-winning field goal, needing to get back down the field for him to get another chance.
The missed opportunities came early and often, starting on the second play of the game. Ben Roethlisberger delivered what for all intents and purposes should be considered a solid deep ball. But Martavis Bryant seemed to have trouble locating it again, as happened earlier this year. Only on this occasion, the cornerback played it perfectly and was able to pick it off.
Later in the quarter, following a sack allowed by Ramon Foster, Roethlisberger just missed what would have been a huge throw for about 25 yards between two defenders to Antonio Brown. That hole shot was one Matthew Stafford hit a couple times against the Steelers.
Then, early in the second quarter, the blame fell to Brown, who like Bryant seemed to have a hard time locating a long ball. The throw was where it needed to be, but the receiver couldn’t find it, and perhaps was hearing footsteps.
A frustrating number of the missed opportunities came on failed third-down conversions. The worst of all was probably the botched shovel toss to Jesse James. The toss itself wasn’t very good, but James wasn’t ready for it.
Of course, it’s hard to be ready for an improvisation, an aspect of the Steelers’ offense that isn’t as important as it once was, but also results in his targets not having the same rapport.
As the first half was coming to an end, the Steelers were driving, and driving well, only to see Roethlisberger fumble the snap, forcing him to fall on the ball and take an eight-yard loss. Do you see what kind of stuff I’m getting at at this point? Shooting themselves in the foot.
Then there was the failed hookup with JuJu Smith-Schuster on third and five on a hot route, the Colts sending six on the pass rush. Smith-Schuster didn’t seem to get out far enough, but Roethlisberger’s throw wasn’t well-positioned, and the ball was knocked loose by a defender.
Le’Veon Bell had a few frustrating incidents in this game in which he was unable to escape a one-on-one situation. This one was the most annoying, once again getting tripped up from behind, but more importantly resulting in a failed third-down conversion. He had another later in the game.
There are too many instances of the team causing themselves their own problems. It’s easy to see things going much differently if they could stop getting in their own way and hitting on some of these potential big plays. As you should see here, the throws often enough are there, but it takes two players to complete a pass.