Flipping wins and losses weekly, the Black and Gold's Week 5 nail-biter over the winless Jaguars came sandwiched between a stunning home defeat to the hapless Bucs and Sunday's crushing loss to the Cleveland Browns.
"There's no time to panic. We're not panicking," Ben Roethlisberger told reporters Wednesday, per NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
Pittsburgh's skittish start can't be blamed on a lack of talent, at least not on offense. The Steelers arguably house one of the AFC's top cast of "triplets" in Big Ben, running back Le'Veon Bell and wideout Antonio Brown. Bell and Brown have flashed dominant play and currently rank second in the NFL in rushing and receiving yards, respectively.
Despite their flock of weaponry, though, Pittsburgh has fallen to pieces near the end zone, ranking next to last in the NFL in red-zone percentage (36.8). Against the Browns, we saw Roethlisberger and the Steelers struggle mightily on third downs. Cleveland's injury-riddled defense spent the final three quarters snuffing out drives before they got going.
It's a concern that Pittsburgh couldn't sustain marches against a battered Browns defensive line that came into the affair missing Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn before losing promising second-year end Armonty Bryant in the first half.
"We will look critically at what we're doing and who we're doing it with," coach Mike Tomlin said this week, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We will turn over all stones to produce more playmaking."
The bigger concern lies with Pittsburgh's defense. The Steelers have been outscored by Cleveland 55-13 over the past six quarters, giving up an outrageous 349 yards on the ground to the Browns in just two games. Through the air, the Steelers held Brian Hoyer to just eight completions on Sunday, but those passes went for 51, 42, 31, 31, 24 and 17 yards. Cortez Allen alone gave up 118 receiving yards and a touchdown for a secondary that lacks an anchoring force.
Pittsburgh fans are upset over a team that can't put it together weekly, but Big Ben is correct: Panic is premature.
After all, it was just two weeks ago that society was melting over Tom Brady's troubles in New England. Roethlisberger and the Steelers arguably house more offensive talent than the Patriots and have plenty of time to get back on track. Look for that to happen with authority in a Monday night trouncing of the Texans.
We recap all the Week 6 action on a jaunty edition of the "Around The NFL Podcast." Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.