When the subject turns to fourth quarter comebacks, minds usually turn toward quarterbacks leading long marches down the field and making big plays while under duress in order to snag victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Steelers' 26-22 comeback win over the Browns on Monday night did not follow that script, however. The Steelers ran eight plays and lost seven yards during the final 15 minutes while their defense forced and recovered a pair of fumbles, including the one that T.J. Watt returned for the game-winning score. Per TruMediaSports, it is the paltriest offensive production a team has received during a fourth quarter comeback since 2000.
Linebacker Alex Highsmith also returned an interception for a touchdown to open the game, which meant the defense outscored the offense over the course of the night. It also left quarterback Kenny Pickett to make an honest assessment of where the unit fell short.
“We have to execute at a much higher level. . . . Staying on the field, third downs, putting points up," Pickett said, via Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com. "Very ABC stuff. Playing better offensively. Period.”
The Steelers' preseason play raised hopes about what the offense would be able to do this year, but the first two weeks of the season haven't done much to create the same belief. Outside of a 71-yard pass to George Pickens, they had 184 yards and two turnovers on Monday and they had 239 yards and two more turnovers in the opening loss to the 49ers.
As good as the defense is in Pittsburgh, the other side needs to do more to balance things out if the Steelers are going to consistently win games.