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So Sad: By accepting their Ugliness, the Steelers have discovered an unusual means of…

In embracing ‘ugliness,’ Steelers have found an unlikely way to keep winning

 

Beauty is surely in the eye of the beholder when it comes to Mike Tomlin’s team. The Pittsburgh Steelers sweated out another tight one on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium, sealing a win with a goal-line interception on the game’s final play and making no apologies in the process.

 

It was the fourth victory this season that Pittsburgh (6-3) has achieved with a turnover at the end.

Yes, the Steelers are now the reigning champions of drama.

 

Is it pretty? No. Not always, Cam Heyward, the veteran defensive end, told the reporters gathered at his locker after the 23-19 win against the Green Bay Packers. “But in the ugliness of it, there’s a lot of beauty.

 

That pretty much sums up the identity of a team that hasn’t had a single game this season when it generated more yards than the opponent yet sits just a half-game out of first place in the AFC North.

 

In order to demonstrate why there are alternative ways to win in a so-called passing league, the defense came up with interceptions on Green Bay’s final two drives. Prior to Damontae Kazee’s pickoff at the end, Keanu Neal caught a pass in the end zone that was deflected into his hands by cornerback Patrick Peterson.

 

 

Pittsburgh rushed for a season-high 205 rushing yards as Jaylen Warren, getting an increasing split of the carries with starter Najee Harris, posted his first career 100-yard game.

It’s more significant when weighed against the lack of output from quarterback Kenny Pickett, who threw for just 126 yards while the running game seems to have hit a stride.

 

The Steelers defeated the Tennessee Titans in Week 9 by rushing for a season-high 166 yards.

And now they’ve topped that. It is similar to a pattern the Steelers established the previous season, their first without imposing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Despite finishing with a losing record (9-8) in the end, they were able to turn things around thanks to improvements in their running game.

 

At his news conference after the game, Tomlin stated, It feels that way. It really does. But keep watching. You know how it is. We face a really stout defense coming up this week, from what I hear.

 

Tomlin was alluding to Sunday’s game at Cleveland (6-3), which will be followed the next week by a trip to Cincinnati.

The back-to-back divisional road games could go a long way in determining whether Pittsburgh rolls down the stretch as a legitimate playoff contender.

 

They know. There’s much to clean up.

Tomlin expressed dissatisfaction with the defense’s two early touchdowns on third down throws, even though Pittsburgh’s offense used a nine-play, 75-yard drive to score on a touchdown on its opening possession for the second straight game (this did not happen once in the first seven games).

First-year Packers starter Jordan Love stung the Steelers with an 8-yard TD pass to Romeo Doubs in the first quarter, then really burned with a 35-yard strike to rookie Jayden Reed in the second quarter.

 

Sure, they redeemed themselves in the end. As Kazee pointed out, It’s four quarters. Whatever happened in the first half, happened in the first half.

 

Beauty is surely in the eye of the beholder when it comes to Mike Tomlin’s team.

The Pittsburgh Steelers sweated out another tight one on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium, sealing a win with a goal-line interception on the game’s final play and making no apologies in the process.

 

It was the fourth victory this season that Pittsburgh (6-3) has achieved with a turnover at the end.

Indeed, the Steelers have emerged as the undisputed drama kings.

 

Is it pretty? No. Not always, Cam Heyward, the veteran defensive end, told the reporters gathered at his locker after the 23-19 win against the Green Bay Packers. “But in the ugliness of it, there’s a lot of beauty.

 

That pretty much sums up the identity of a team that hasn’t had a single game this season when it generated more yards than the opponent yet sits just a half-game out of first place in the AFC North.

 

Before Damontae Kazee’s pickoff at the end, Keanu Neal caught a pass in the end zone that was deflected into his hands by cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The defense came up with interceptions on Green Bay’s final two drives, highlighting the fact that there are alternative ways to win in a league known for its passing.

 

And other ways to grow up.

Pittsburgh rushed for a season-high 205 rushing yards as Jaylen Warren, getting an increasing split of the carries with starter Najee Harris, posted his first career 100-yard game.

It’s more significant when weighed against the lack of output from quarterback Kenny Pickett, who threw for just 126 yards while the running game seems to have hit a stride.

 

With a victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 9, the Steelers ran for 166 yards, a season-high.

And now they’ve topped that. It is similar to a pattern the Steelers established the previous season, their first without imposing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Despite finishing with a losing record (9-8) in the end, they were able to turn things around thanks to improvements in their running game.

That is how it feels, Tomlin stated at his news conference after the game. It really does. But keep watching. You know how it is. We face a really stout defense coming up this week, from what I hear.

 

Tomlin was alluding to Sunday’s game at Cleveland (6-3), which will be followed the next week by a trip to Cincinnati.

The outcome of Pittsburgh’s final stretch as a genuine postseason contender could be greatly influenced by the two divisional road games.

 

They know. There’s much to clean up.

Tomlin expressed dissatisfaction with the defense’s two early touchdowns on third down throws, even though Pittsburgh’s offense used a nine-play, 75-yard drive to score on a touchdown on its opening possession for the second straight game (this did not happen once in the first seven games).

First-year Packers starter Jordan Love stung the Steelers with an 8-yard TD pass to Romeo Doubs in the first quarter, then really burned with a 35-yard strike to rookie Jayden Reed in the second quarter.

Sure, they redeemed themselves in the end. As Kazee pointed out, “It’s four quarters. Whatever happened in the first half, happened in the first half.

 

And it fueled surefire talking points for the coming days.

Tomlin stated that we must be able to win those drives, fight for those four points, and force opponents to settle for field goals.

 

 

The Steelers entered the game ranked third in the NFL with 16 takeaways and tied for third in the league with a plus-8 turnover margin. It is clearly key to their survival quotient.

The Steelers defense began Week 10 ranked next-to-last in the NFL for yards allowed, while Pickett was 26th for passing yards.

On Sunday, though, Pickett once again guarded the ball with zero turnovers, and the defense produced clutch splash plays just when it mattered most.

We’ve talked a lot about our warts, Tomlin said. However, the turnover ratio has not been among them. It’s probably the difference in these tight games.

 

Still, the Steelers are playing with fire.

You don’t get excited about 6-3 in the middle of the season, Heyward said. There’s a lot of football to be played.

After 16 seasons as the Steelers’ coach, Tomlin has never had a losing season. It will be interesting to see if he can build another team that improves towards the end of the season.

That might be the deciding factor in whether Pittsburgh returns to the postseason.

 

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