When the topic turns to fourth-quarter comebacks, thoughts usually turn to quarterbacks leading long marches down the field and making big plays under duress to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
However, the Steelers’ 26-22 comeback win over the Browns on Monday night did not follow that script. The Steelers ran eight plays and lost seven yards over the final 15 minutes as their defense forced and recovered a pair of fumbles, including the one TJ Watt returned for the winning score. According to TruMediaSports, it is the meager offensive production a team has staged a fourth-quarter comeback since 2000.
Linebacker Alex Highsmith also returned an interception for a touchdown to open the game, meaning the defense outscored the offense over the course of the night. It also left quarterback Kenny Pickett to make an honest assessment of where the unit fell short.
“We have to carry on a much higher level. . . . Staying on the field, third downs, putting up points,” Pickett said, via Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com. “Very ABC stuff. Play better offensively. Period of time.”
The Steelers’ preseason play raised hopes about what the offense could do this year, but the first two weeks of the season haven’t done much to create the same belief. Aside from a 71-yard pass to George Pickens, they had 184 yards and two turnovers on Monday, and had 239 yards and two more turnovers in the opening loss to the 49ers.
As good as Pittsburgh’s defense is, the other side needs to do more to even things out if the Steelers want to consistently win games.