The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 12 on a five game winning streak and coming off their strongest performance of 2017. Week 12 ended up being a much tougher week than many expected for Pittsburgh. Brett Hundley and the Green Bay Packers gave the Steelers a game on Sunday Night Football. The big play was again a problem for Pittsburgh, giving up three long passes for touchdowns. Pittsburgh stood tough however, and escaped with a 31-28 last second win. Pittsburgh pulled off their sixth straight win with another outstanding offensive performance and just enough defense.
Week 12 Pittsburgh Steelers Takeaways
The Pittsburgh offense has resurged the past two week after averaging just 20.8 points per game in their first nine games. The past two weeks however, they have put up 40 and 31 points respectively. Unlike last week, Le’Veon Bell got a heavier workload. Bell carried the ball 20 times for 95 yards, a favorable night. Still, Ben Roethlisberger continued his second wind success from last week. Roethlisberger completed 33 of 45 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns. After looking over the hill in the first nine games, Roethlisberger is looking like a quarterback who can still thrive.
Ben + Brown = Big Night
While there are still moments where Roethlisberger’s age shows, they have lessened as the season has gone on. Roethlisberger is beginning to use his weapons to his advantage again. His biggest weapon is Antonio Brown, who is having another Hall of Fame caliber season. Brown continued his successful 2017 campaign by adding 10 receptions for 169 yards and two more touchdowns. Roethlisberger found Brown twice on the game winning drive. Brown’s first catch was incredible, dragging his toes in bounds with possession. The dual receptions set up Chris Boswell’s 53 yard game winning field goal.
Poor Pass Defense
The problem on Sunday night was not with the Steelers offense, but the defense. Pittsburgh’s defense gave up 28 points to an offense without its starting quarterback. These points came off big plays again as they have many times recently. The long touchdowns from Green Bay went for 39, 54, and 55 yards respectively. If you take away these plays, Brett Hundley only threw for 97 yards on Sunday Night. Instead, he threw for 265 yards and almost beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The secondary is injured, but they have to keep these plays from finding the end zone.
Heyward Continues Dominance
While the pass defense struggled, the pass rush and run defense continued to accelerate. Green Bay only ran for 80 yards on 24 attempts, forcing them to attack Pittsburgh through the air. Pittsburgh also got to Hundley four times. Cameron Heyward added two more sacks to his season total, giving him nine so far this year. Heyward has become a force to be feared across the league. T.J. Watt and Leterrius Walton also added a sack each to help the Pittsburgh defense stay afloat.
Next week, the Steelers travel to take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. This will be Pittsburgh’s fourth divisional game of the year, and final with Cincinnati this season. In week seven, Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati 29-14 at home. Division games are always a must win, and this is no exception. The Steelers must bring their A game next Monday night to keep the winning streak alive.