Of all the high-profile offensive slumps that have popped up during the first three weeks of the NFL season, the one marring Pittsburgh has to be the most surprising.
In a 23-17 overtime loss to the Bears on Sunday, Pittsburgh was outgained 304-282. The Bears held the ball for nearly 34 minutes. Le'Veon Bell gained just 61 yards, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked three times and, outside of Antonio Brown's 10-catch, 110-yard performance, none of the Steelers' wideouts had more than 40 yards receiving. Martavis Bryant caught just two of his eight targets.
On the season so far, they are 16th in passing yards and 29th in rushing yards.
The frustration seems to come from the lack of maddening balance that the Steelers had a year ago. Bell was targeted seven times in the passing game but was ultimately unable to break out. He's gaining four yards per carry but his longest rush on the season is 12 yards.
Pittsburgh has gone from the sort of improvisational street-ball style that has defined Roethlisberger's career renaissance to something more accurately resembling Roethlisberger's earlier years in the NFL where the team hinged on stout defensive play. That formula also yielded success, but there's nothing fun or enjoyable about losing your knockout-blow potential as an offense and trying to find it again.