Getting his turn: With James Conner out of the lineup on Monday night because of a quadriceps injury, it was Benny Snell who was called upon to carry the load for the ground game against the Bengals.
While the offense still struggled in the 27-17 loss, Snell provided a little bit of a spark on the ground with 18 carries for 84 yards. During his press conference, Coach Mike Tomlin indicated that he expects Conner to return this week when the team takes on the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field, but that doesn't mean Snell won't get his fair share of carries.
"We'll ponder those possibilities. You have to admit, Benny was an awesome element of play for us in the last game where we didn't have a lot of awesome elements of play," said Tomlin. "His efforts were appreciated, so I'm sure he will have an opportunity to be impactful in this one regardless of James' availability."
Fresh start: You could see the frustration on the faces of Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt on Monday night as they did their postgame Zoom press conferences. You could tell the loss to the Bengals ate away at them, as the defensive captains know what wins mean this time of year.
But one thing that has to be done when the team reports to work on Wednesday morning to prepare for the Colts is starting fresh.
"Each week we wipe the slate clean," said Tomlin. "On Wednesday morning when we start the process preparing for the next opponent, that's where we are. That's regardless of circumstance, win or lose. Sure, there's some residue based on last night's performance. I would expect there to be. That just means that you care, and it means that you recognize that we haven't performed well enough.
"On Wednesday morning when we walk in this door, we are singularly focused on the next opportunity of being the professionals that we are and understanding we have the capabilities to rectify all circumstances that we are in."
Home field advantage: The Steelers won't have fans at Sunday's game against the Colts because of COVID-19 guidelines set by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that limits the size of outdoor gatherings through Jan. 4. They still have the potential of hosting a home playoff game if they clinch the AFC North, which they could do with a win over the Colts.
Even without fans, or a severely reduced crowd, Tomlin said there is such a thing as home field advantage this season.
"It is big for me. I enjoy the comforts of home," said Tomlin. "Even though we don't get the pleasure of performing in front of Steelers Nation and gaining the advantage of the 12th man, logistically and things of that nature, being at home has its advantages just in terms of how you travel and how you move throughout your week.
"No question, being in your home venue in the comforts of things that are familiar to you are something that we value."