The Steelers offense cut into a 17-point deficit against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night, and while Ben Roethlisberger liked some of what he saw from the unit, he would trade it in a heartbeat for a win.
The Steelers scored 27 fourth quarter points, and multiple times came right back and answered when the Chargers scored, but still came up short.
"We finally were able to put some points on the board," said Roethlisberger. "I don't know our stats in terms of third down conversions and things like that, but there are some encouraging things to be found from that game. Unfortunately, you don't win. That's the worst part. We would take a win and crappy offense over a great offense and not win. There's some things we can grow on I think."
Roethlisberger, who just came off the COVID list in time to play, had a strong showing completing 28 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns, utilizing eight different targets.
"A lot of people got involved," said Roethlisberger. "We had a lot of different guys catch touchdowns. We did a little bit of a no-huddle type thing. For the line to be able to for the first time really do that. Tell them protections and then do it.
"Being able to move the ball and also answer scores. I think that's such a big and underrated deal in the NFL. When you can answer a touchdown or a score, I think that's huge. I think we did that a few times."
The Steelers haven't used the no-huddle as much this year as they have in the past, and Roethlisberger liked the way it worked out for them, changing the tempo which helped keep the defense off balance.
"You're able to pick the tempo up. You're able to kind of dictate what the defense is doing a little bit, or keep them plain," said Roethlisberger. "I think that was good. I think communication, especially on the road where it was loud. There were a lot of Steelers fans there. It was loud. We were able to communicate, and I think things went pretty well there."
Take a look at the best portraits from the Steelers' Week 11 game against the Los Angeles Chargers
The offense is going to have to come up with an equally, if not better performance this week, in what is definitely going to be a hotly contested AFC North game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals defeated the Steelers at Heinz Field in Week 3, 24-10, and with a tight division this is a key game.
"We're getting better. They are too," said Roethlisberger. "Everyone's evolving as the season goes. Just because I think that we're better doesn't mean the outcome could be different. You still have to go play. Hopefully, our young guys have all grown up and the older guys getting a little better too."
On Tuesday Coach Mike Tomlin stressed the importance of Sunday's game against the Bengals in his weekly press conference, taking a straight up approach about its significance.
"This is a big week for us," said Tomlin. "I think that's one of the approaches that we're going to take this week. We're not going to play it cool and pretend like it's not or downplay it. This is significant AFC North football for us."
The AFC North is a tightly contested division right now, with the Ravens (7-3) leading, followed by the Bengals (6-4), Steelers (5-4-1) and Browns (6-5).
"These games are big. They are," said Tomlin. "You're not going to backdoor your way into the single elimination tournament. You're not going to backdoor your way into division significance. You got to go on the road and win games in this division. And that's just the reality of it. The sugar on top is obviously earlier in the season, they were able to come into our place and win.
"It's a big game for us. It's a big game for them. There's positioning relative to it. We're not going to play it cool. We're not going to pretend like it's not. What we're going to do is acknowledge that and then we've got to be at our best."
Roethlisberger said Tomlin shared that same message with the players in the team meeting on Wednesday that kicks off the week for them.
"He mentioned it to us as well in the team meeting," said Roethlisberger. "We know it. You see where the AFC is. You see where the AFC North is. They came here and beat us last time. We're coming off a loss. They're coming off a big win. It's just every game now is starting to become more and more important."