Pittsburgh Steelers
(Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)

Two months ago, I published an article titled “The Pittsburgh Steelers Aren’t as Good as You Think.” At the time, the ‘Lers were 7-0, and I even predicted in that article that they would probably go 10-0. However, I said that their offense would hold them back and they would not reach the AFC Championship Game. No one wanted to listen to me, even after I reached similar conclusions about both the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Yankees in 2020. Two Pittsburgh Steelers posts immediately after mine were about how 1) the Steelers get no respect and 2) the Steelers could go 16-0. Nobody believed me.

Last night, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the Cleveland Browns 48-37 in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. This game marked the first time the Browns had won at Heinz Field since Ben Roethlisberger entered the league. After opening the season 11-0, Pittsburgh lost five of their next six games and got bounced out of championship contention.

The Steelers Offense Was Never That Good

Let’s take a look at some quotes on the offense from my previous article:

The Steelers are somehow a top-five scoring offense without ranking in the top 15 in any of the above [offensive] metrics.

There’s a massive gap between the Steelers’ scoring output and their offense on the field. This isn’t sustainable. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the elite quarterback he used to be. The offensive bubble will eventually burst.

Karl Heiser, “The Pittsburgh Steelers Aren’t as Good as You Think”

You can read my article to see the specific offensive metrics I referenced. Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 500 yards in their playoff game, but he also turned the ball over four times. The overreliance on the passing attack (Big Ben had 68 pass attempts!) is also indicative of how poor the Steelers’ run game was this season. The offense completely stalled out over the home stretch and Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner is absolutely on the hot seat.

Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Collapse

Now for the defense:

The thing is, there have been games where the Pittsburgh defense inexplicably decides to take a quarter or two off. That’s what allowed the Titans to get back into the game. When you play an offense like the Cardinals or Chiefs, you don’t get to take quarters off. They will shred you.

Given the state of the Steelers offense, it’s hard for me to say they’re a top-five team in the NFL. The offense is league-average and scores points despite itself. You can’t count on the defense to consistently put you in good field position the way Pittsburgh has and continue to win. It’s not statistically probable that they keep this up.

Karl Heiser, “The Pittsburgh Steelers Aren’t as Good as You Think”

In the first quarter of their playoff game against Cleveland, the Steelers gave up 28 points. Talk about taking a quarter off! They ended up surrendering 48 points to a team that hadn’t practiced all week and was without head coach Kevin Stefanski. There are eight teams left in Super Bowl contention, and none of them are the Pittsburgh Steelers. They weren’t a top-five team in the NFL when they were 7-0, and it showed last night.

Pittsburgh Got Way Too Confident

Even after dropping four of five to end the regular season, players like JuJu Smith-Schuster still felt the need to trash talk the Browns.

I think they’re still the same Browns team I play every year. I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple of nice players on their team, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. The Browns is the Browns.

JuJu Smith Schuster, via Tom Withers

Not only was this quote just super disrespectful for no reason, it also aged as poorly as possible.

Rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool decided to make some comments of his own following the loss:

Bad loss, but Browns are going to get clapped next week so it’s all good.

Chase Claypool, via TikTok Live

Really? It’s all good? Ok, if you say so. See you next season, Steelers.

The Cleveland Browns move on to the Divisional Round to face the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.

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