Whether it was getting their mojo back or better preparation or more opportunities to get into the playbook, Mike Tomlin said the Steelers are an improving football team.
He meant that, unlike what he said at his weekly press conference a week ago.
There is evidence of measured amounts of improvement everywhere after their 23-18 victory in Las Vegas, from the small steps being taken by the offense and defense to the big legs on display on special teams.
Now the Steelers (2-1) will try to make it three in a row when they go back on the road to face the Houston Texans (1-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“I just feel like we’re getting better in all areas,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “That’s a reasonable expectation and mindset to have this time of year. Our business is to win games, no doubt. But in the pursuit of those victories, you’ve got to build.”
The offense has done that in limited doses, scoring two touchdowns for the first time this season and having the two longest pass plays in the league.
The defense has done that with a league-high 13 sacks, four interceptions and a much better showing against the run against the Raiders.
“Sometimes getting better is just the coach component of it, putting plans together, presenting those plans with greater clarity, having more depth to those plans in terms of concepts feeding off one another, and then sometimes it’s the play component,” Tomlin said.
That was especially evident on offense in Vegas when the Steelers had quarterback Kenny Pickett on the move against the Raiders, repeatedly having him roll from the pocket to cut the field in half and complete more high-percentage passes. The result: Pickett averaged 8.39 yards per attempt — easily his best in three games — and did not throw an interception for the first time this season.
He also had a 72-yard touchdown to receiver Calvin Austin III, one week after his 71-yard score to George Pickens. They are the two longest pass plays in the league in 2023.
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