2022 Steelers Season Recall: New England Patriots escape Pittsburgh victorious
Steel City Underground presents our 2022 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.
Following a Week 1 surprise where the Steelers shocked everyone by defeating the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in their home stadium, it was now time to return to Pittsburgh for the first regular season home game to be played in the newly dubbed Acrisure Stadium.
The Steelers opponent, the New England Patriots, are a familiar foe. However, this time, things were unfamiliar as the two long-time head coaches (Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick) were facing off without their long-term franchise quarterbacks. In what was usually a Ben Roethlisberger versus Tom Brady encounter, the Steelers were counting on veteran Mitchell Trubisky to challenge the Patriots second-year pro Mac Jones.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go so smooth for Trubisky, who struggled in what was a low-scoring affair.
In the first half of the game, Trubisky completed just 11 of 19 passes (57.9 percent) for 96 yards (5.1 yards per attempt average). His longest pass went for 23 yards. He also gave up an interception and went into halftime with a 49.5 QB rating.
In the second half, Trubisky completed 10 of 14 passes (71.4 percent) for 72 yards (7.2 yards per attempt average). His longest pass went for 14 yards. He did complete a touchdown drive and up his QB rating to 106.9. To put that into perspective, though, it was during a hurry-up offense that Pittsburgh utilized to keep the Patriots’ defense on the field and from substituting.
This began the chants of “Kenny! Kenny!” from the crowd in attendance, who wanted to see Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett, who played in the same stadium during his college days with the Pitt Panthers, supplant Trubisky. In short, the Steelers were unable to generate a consistent-enough offense to truly threaten the Patriots’ defense, or keep them guessing.
It was a somewhat sad state in the Steel City, as T.J. Watt was placed on IR following the win in Cincy, and now fans were going to see how dismal the defense was without the league’s Defensive MVP. Pittsburgh, overall, started out with some pep and then lost step after step before finding a rare play here and there that got the crowd back into it.
Following their sack fest of Joe Burrow (7 times) one week earlier at Cincinnati, the defense was once again gassed and got zero sacks on Mac Jones who, just days before, had been dealing with back issues and an illness.
The Steelers have led or tied the NFL in sacks in each of the last five seasons. However, their league record 75 games with at least one sack was snapped, ironically, last season… by the Bengals. Yet, Minkah Fitzpatrick came away with another interception this week, for consecutive games in which the Steelers safety has picked off the competition.
As you may recall, the flow of the game was erratic nonetheless with the Steelers still in it for much of the contest, as neither team truly impressed in Week 2. Pittsburgh was only able to muster two field goals through two quarters, which kept things tight at 10-6. However, no one would’ve imagined Gunner Olszewski (A 2020 First-Team All-Pro as a return specialist) muffing a punt.
He has been nothing but sure-handed throughout the offseason, but this critical turnover was shocking – and gave New England a short field in which they took advantage of scoring a touchdown off of.
Trubisky would find Pat Freiermuth in the endzone early in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 17-14 following a successful two-point try, but that’s all the Steelers offense would be able to maintain as Trubisky stalled again late, going 2-for-4 for 5 yards in the last two Steelers offensive series: they would go three-and-out in both to seal their fate as the Patriots walked out of Pittsburgh with a 17-14 win.
The loss would send the Steelers to 1-1 on the year and would be the start of a bad streak of games to come.