Pickett feels Steelers trending in right direction

Keep the ground game going.

That was the message Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett had Wednesday when he spoke to reporters at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex as the team continued to prepare to host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers rushed for a season-high 166 yards on 30 carries in last week's 20-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans. And that led to a completely balanced attack.

The Steelers ran the ball 30 times and threw it 30, gaining 160 yards passing, as well.

"It was huge," Pickett said of the rushing attack. "I thought the balance was there. You know, (Najee Harris) and (Jaylen Warren) ran the ball great. The line was was firing off the ball. They're protected really well. I stayed clean the majority of the game. So, that's kind of what we're trying to get to here."

It's something the Steelers have started to show in recent weeks – just not consistently.

In a win over the Rams three weeks ago, the Steelers got 85 rushing yards on 20 attempts from Harris and Warren in a 24-17 win.

It wasn't the same kind of rushing attack they got against the Titans, but it was equally as effective in helping open up other things.

"We want to be a really balanced attack that can put up points and you know, we've shown it in spurts and it hasn't been consistent enough," Pickett said. "So we need to get consistent there."

And yet the Steelers find themselves at 5-3 at the midway point of the season. It's a far different start than what they had a year ago when they stumbled out of the gates to sit at 2-6 after eight games.

The Steelers found that offensive consistency in the second half of last season to finish the season at 9-8, averaging 146.2 yards per game on the ground.

A similar focus to that this season would mean fewer passes to be had. And in the past two games, George Pickens has caught just three passes for 21 yards and a touchdown – including two catches for negative-one yards in the win over the Titans.

There is, however, just one football to go around. And if half of the offensive plays are runs, that doesn't leave as many passes.

But getting the running game working more consistently could help open things up downfield.

Dale Lolley is co-host of "SNR Drive" on Steelers Nation Radio. Subscribe to the podcast here: Apple Podcast | iHeart Podcast

Pickens said Wednesday as the Steelers continued to run the ball, the Titans began to creep a safety closer to the line of scrimmage more often. And that did open up some shots downfield.

On one, Pickens didn't get a second foot down in bounds in the end zone, leading to a field goal, while on the second, Pickett connected with Diontae Johnson for a 32-yard completion to set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Johnson.

"You know, we had a nice one to Diontae on the sideline and one-on-one situation, had a shot at George in the red zone, which was good," Pickett said. "It's good to know when we're running the ball that well and I have to bring that safety in the box. Someone's gonna be singled up and can have this opportunity."

The effective running game has to be there for that to continue to happen.

And that could lead to more complete offensive performances rather than the Steelers being a team that has to rely on winning games at the end – something Pickett has already done three times this season.

Pickett though the win over the Titans was a step in the right direction toward consistency.

"I think it was one of the times that you saw it and you saw it ramp a little bit," Pickett said. "There's this burst of it that we just haven't been able to put through for four quarters and that's what we're trying to get to."