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Steelers Flatten Thursday Night vs Browns

The Steelers played their first primetime game of the year against the browns. The outcome did not fall the way of the Steelers but we look back at the positives and negatives of Thursday night’s AFC North battle.

Steelers offense shows improvement

The Pittsburgh Steelers were under fire from the media and its fans after their loss to the Patriots on Sunday. Matt Canada was one name, in particular, that was the talk of the town this past week in Pittsburgh, and they were not good talks. Many Steeler fans scrutinized his play calling complaining that there were not enough downfield plays called, and rightfully so. Coming into Thursday Nights game the Steelers ranked 30th in yards per game, 3rd worst in the league.

On Thursday night you saw almost immediately a different play caller. The Steelers on the first drive started with a play-action rollout pass for 13 yards and later in the drive a deep ball to Diontae Johnson for over 25+ yards. The aggressive play calling continued for most of the first half with Mitch Trubisky throwing the ball 15+ yards 6 times in the first half. Pittsburgh would end up having the lead going into halftime 14-13.

Disappointing for the #Steelers to not finish the 2-min drill but if you knew the offense would get two first half TDs I think anyone who’s seen this offense would take that. — Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) September 23, 2022

The second half however was a little different, conservative Steelers on the road kicked in. When the second half started the old Pittsburgh Steelers came out throwing short throws, running the ball, and screen passes. Anything they could do to hold on to the ball they did it. Until they found themselves down 23-14, then you saw a tad bit more aggressive down-the-field throws, The Steelers would eventually only score a field goal in the second half. At the end of the day, you saw Mitch Trubisky have a season-high in passing yards with 207 which has to be somewhat of a bright spot for the future of the play calling.

Ultimately I concluded that the play calling, albeit still putrid at times, turned out to be bearable with the downfield throws. Mitch Trubisky showed that he can do what they ask of him, he was not perfect by any means, but he did move the ball at times under these new play calls. Scoring three points in the second half will not cut it by any means in any game this season, so I do believe they need to keep up with the aggressive play calling at least until a big lead is established.

Defense at a crossroads

The Steelers defense played well enough for the Steelers to win the game tonight. The score shows 29-17 but the defense only gave up 23 of those points. However, the defense still has major issues that need to be addressed. Stopping the run was a point of emphasis this offseason and you see why with Nick Chubb averaging 4.9 yards per carry and Kareem Hunt averaging 3.9. The Steelers did show improvement in the sack category getting two of those which is up from zero last week.

Pittsburgh’s secondary gave up a ton of big plays Thursday night as well, they did not do what I expected them to do in this game. I believed that they would fluster Jacoby Brissett as they have in the past. Brissett ended the night with 220 yards and 2 touchdowns with a Quarterback rating of 109.6, in the end, he made enough big plays to win the game for the Browns.

Terrell Edmunds, Ahkello Witherspoon, Devin Bush, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tyson Alualu, and Myles Jack each earned a grade below 48.6 this week, according to PFF. — Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) September 23, 2022

One last thing I wanted to touch on with Thursday’s night game with the defense. It is hard enough to stop a team with the caliber of talent the Cleveland Browns have on three downs, but The Cleveland Browns went for it on 4th down four times Thursday night. Not making excuses, but making those fourth downs into 4th and 3-to-5 instead of 4th and 1, I think you see a different outcome tonight.

All in all, I truly did like a lot that I saw tonight, even in a loss. Play calling in my opinion did get better albeit for one half. The offense moved the ball without turning the ball over which is all great in the grand scheme of a football game. The offense just couldn’t do the same thing in the second half that they did in the first and it ultimately cost them. Facing a Deshaun Watson-less Browns, I expected a different outcome. I still walked away enthusiastic and excited to see what game plan Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff come up with next week. The Steelers get a long week in preparation for the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium next Sunday.



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