On Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers turned in their best performance of the year with a 40-17 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans.
Despite the close game minutes into the third quarter, a Steelers’ victory never seemed to be in doubt.
Pittsburgh’s offense was clicking, and the defense found a way to force key turnovers to keep Tennessee’s offense off the field.
Now, Pittsburgh has six games left on a somewhat easy schedule, and it starts with another primetime matchup with the Green Bay Packers this Sunday.
Here are my week 12 cheers, jeers, and fears.
What can’t AB do?
He’s a game-breaker in every sense of the word. Even when you have him completely covered he still finds a way to make a play.
He finished with three touchdowns, 144 yards, and what might be the catch of the year.
AB is the best player on the field no matter who is opposing him. Ben should remember this and continue to feed him the ball.
Another cheer goes out to the defense. Although Mariota had 300 passing yards, 75 of those came on one play, and the front seven held the Titans’ duo of running backs to only 42 yards on the ground.
The Steelers secondary stepped up without the services of Joe Haden and kept Mariota in check despite the one long pass play. Pittsburgh doesn’t face another elite quarterback until they play the Patriots in week 15, and there is a chance Haden is back out there for that game.
Converting red zone chances into touchdowns.
The Steelers seemed to find their way in the red zone after the first half, but they could have put the game out of reach before halftime if they were able to convert touchdowns in the red zone.
Coming into the game, the Steelers were second to last in red zone efficiency having scored touchdowns on only 41 percent of their red zone opportunities, a number that dwindled during the first half.
Pittsburgh did improve and converted on all three of their red zone opportunities in the second half on three touchdown passes from Big Ben.
If the Steelers can keep that up, they will be tough to beat down the stretch.
We have seen it time and again this season where it looks like this team has finally figured it out only to go out and lay an egg in the next game, even in a win.
As I’ve said, Pittsburgh has a favorable schedule upcoming, and they need to take this opportunity to bury the rest of the AFC North in the process.
If the Steelers can get a win on Sunday, and then rattle off wins against the Bengals and Ravens, they should have the AFC North wrapped up by week 15.
I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, however.
The game this week might show us what we can expect from the Steelers down the stretch. They are playing a team that is not only missing its all-pro quarterback, but also both of its starting running backs.
This should be a game that Pittsburgh dominates. Ben should have his way against a Packers’ defense that isn’t very good, and I expect Antonio Brown to go off for another two touchdowns and 100+ yards.
Notice how I keep using the word should? The SHOULD win this game handily, and make it an early stress-free night for the Black and Gold faithful.