Takeaways: Lack of offense dooms Steelers in loss

Steel City Underground presents post-game takeaways from every Pittsburgh Steelers game of the 2023 NFL regular season.

It is extremely difficult to be objective about the position the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently in following a 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 11 of the 2023 NFL regular season. One thing that was glaringly apparent was that strides the offense took forward in the past three weeks virtually disappeared in Sunday’s game outside of a few plays here and there. That resulted in the Steelers defense, decimated by injuries, to carry the day. Despite their excellent play in the second half, the defense could not overcome the lack of positives offensively.

There were five areas we pointed out that the Steelers needed improvement in ahead of the game if they were to successfully defeat the Browns: run defense, winning offensive line of scrimmage battles, establishing a successful run game, accuracy and ball control offensively, and creating turnovers without giving the ball away. Pittsburgh succeeded in just two-of-five of those areas, and the result was obvious: a loss.

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Outside of a 74-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Warren – the longest rushing TD by a Steelers player since Le’Veon Bell went 81-yards for a score in Week 3 of 2014 – Pittsburgh’s offense was forgettable.

Saying that, the offensive performance probably will be remembered for just how poorly-executed it was.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett looked like he’d regressed and, in what could have been a big moment in the fourth quarter, only took 14 seconds off the game clock in a stall that stole any hope of a game-winning field goal from Chris Boswell. A touchdown was beyond the realm of possible.

Additionally, Matt Canada‘s play-calling was not good; it may even be looked-back on as abysmal in many instances. The offensive line struggled under the Browns’ consistent defensive pressure. Receivers weren’t sharp or precise, resulting in a passing game that was nearly non-existent on appeared unscripted.

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Pittsburgh’s defense found a way to limit the Cleveland rushing game to just 96 yards on 29 carries. That forced the Browns to utilize more underneath passes – something the Steelers covered well as Elandon Roberts had quite a ballgame – and kept the game very close.

Chandon Sullivan grabbed an interception off of Dorian Thompson-Robinson that could have been a major turning point, but his teammates on offense could do nothing with the takeaway. Splash play negated.

Pressley Harvin certainly didn’t help the Steelers on special teams. His inconsistency in punting continues to plague this team

The biggest takeaway from this AFC North loss was that Pittsburgh may have played their best football of the season before this game and is in a hole it created for itself. How they dig out of it remains to be seen, but the team has lost the confidence of a large part of their fanbase.

Earning confidence in themselves may be even harder as the final weeks of the 2023 NFL regular season rush up to meet them.

Do they have the gas in the tank to make positive things happen, starting with their matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12? How many more injuries can they overcome? The questions are piling up while there appears to be lack of answers available.

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