Steelers' Season Isn't in the Hands of the Defense
The Steelers saw a cruel reality in Cleveland. A team that fought their way through the trenches to win four-straight, find the final wildcard spot and get back to .500 was on top of the world heading into Week 11. By the time Friday morning rolled around, though, the sense of panic returned to Pittsburgh.
It seemed like keeping a Browns team to 21 points, 14 prior to the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, was a poor game for the defense. Controlling the offense, forcing Cleveland to punt on 12 drives and giving their team a chance to tie the game multiple times in the second half just wasn't enough to say this defense put their offense in a position to win.
Although we know this isn't true. What Thursday night showed was that the Pittsburgh Steelers cannot win without the help of their defense. Without turnovers and touchdowns, Mason Rudolph and the rest of the offense isn't equipped to help the team stay a float, even against team who are struggling.
Injuries didn't help. Not many people realize how difficult it is to find success with a backup quarterback, running back and receiving core. The offense had few names the general public would know.
One touchdown shouldn't of been asking for too much, though. A single score in the second half would've been enough. Tie the ball game, gain some momentum and put the ball in the hands of Baker Mayfield to win. If they could've done that, their defense had a chance to win under their power - something they've prove to be able to do.
Right now, it's hard to say what's going to change. It's like all the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place whenever change may need to be made. Randy Fichtner and his questionable play-calling were saved by the loss of Ben Roethlisberger. Now, Mason Rudolph showing no signs of a winning quarterback likely won't have to win his starting job because of injuries to JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner.
There's no saying this season remains in the hands of the Steelers. At 5-5, Pittsburgh needs to keep winning in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. But the defense can't be the only piece of the team that keeps games in their favor.
Four interceptions doesn't win football games. Poor check downs, scattered quarterback play and the inability to open the field, and therefore help your running game, only leaves team in position to lose.
If change doesn't come in Pittsburgh, they'll continue to see the results of no offensive presence. Rudolph's job has been earned through no competition. No one knows if a new quarterback will better things or if the injury bug has simply taken too much from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The remaining six games are in the hands of Rudolph and offense. The defense kept this season alive. They'll keep putting their team in positions to control ball games. Without any help, though, it's going to be a lot of missed opportunities that'll lead to a disappointing second-half of the season for Pittsburgh.