2022 Steelers Season Recall: Running game surprises in road win at Carolina

Steel City Underground presents our 2022 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.

One week after the Baltimore Ravens sent the Steelers to a 5-8 record on the season, there were fans who were starting to think Pittsburgh should “tank” the remainder of their season – four more games – for a higher draft pick in 2023.

The theory, at least, was that QB Kenny Pickett was knocked out of the Ravens game and ruled ineligible for the Week 15’s matchup with the Panthers. With four more games remaining on the 2022 schedule, most felt that the Steelers Super Bowl hopes had been dashed. However, the team had other plans.

There was an unsettled feeling across Steelers Nation once head coach Mike Tomlin made it evident that it would not be Mason Rudolph starting in place of the injured Pickett. Despite a disastrous showing in Week 14, and after he’d been unimpressive early in the season, the Steelers instead turned back to Mitchell Trubisky.

Embed from Getty Images

All-in-all, Trubisky had a redemption game.

As anticipated, the tight ends were utilized heavily in this game, but the offensive line also played a stellar game in the trenches and gave Trubisky time to execute the game plan.

Where Trubisky really shined was in playing without making mistakes and converting six-of-eight third downs. He was better at making reads and found Diontae Johnson on five-of-five third-down targets, allowing Johnson to turn them into needed first downs on ten receptions for 98 yards.

On the day, Trubisky completed 17-of-22 passes for 179 yards and wasn’t adverse to using his feet when needed. Trubisky wouldn’t throw for a touchdown – or an interception – but he would run for a score, while also stretching out in several short-yardage situations otherwise, to convert first downs.

Embed from Getty Images

Pittsburgh was able to get their ground game going again this weekend, as well, as the team had a season-high 45 carries for 156 yards.

After only topping 100 yards on the ground in three of their first eight games, Pittsburgh gained over 100 yards on the ground in five of their last six games since the bye week.

Three different players scored a rushing touchdown, including Trubisky, Jaylen Warren, and Najee Harris – who topped all runners with 86 yards. Warren finished with 38 yards on 11 carries; he added one catch for 11 yards on the day as well.

Although they were hard-earned yards, they allowed the Steelers’ offense to open up the Panthers’ defense and control the time of possession, especially an outstanding drive that lasted 21 plays for 91 yards and elapsed 11:43 of game time in the third quarter!

Due to penalties, the drive actually netted 106 yards and is the longest series in the entire league since the 2019 season.

Embed from Getty Images

The Steelers defense also rose to the occasion. The Panthers entered Sunday’s game as one of the NFL’s top rushing attacks. They went into halftime with only 14 yards rushing – a 1.4 average on 10 attempts!

If you think that’s bad, then it only got worse for Carolina, as they’d run the ball 6 more times for a total of 7 additional yards – half of what they had in the first half.

They would finish with 21 yards on the ground, a 1.3 average. It was a real hats-off performance for Teryl Austin and his defense.

The Steelers would win their sixth game of the season by a margin of 24-16, improving to 6-8 on the year and keeping their playoff hopes alive with three games to go.

Suggested articles from our sponsors