PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Even with an offense filled with stars, the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to score touchdowns over the first half of the season. The low point came in a 30-9 loss to Jacksonville in week five, when three field goals accounted for the scoring.
Heading into Sunday’s playoff game at Heinz Field, offensive coordinator Todd Haley believes that day — in which Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted five times — was a turning point.
“That game for our entire group was a kind of watershed moment,” Haley said after Thursday’s indoor practice. “We stayed together, but there was a lot of pressure from the outside that could’ve been divisive for our group. I take my hat off to the guys. They pulled together tighter.”
Haley believes that rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, along with Martavis Bryant, who returned from a year-long suspension, and tight end Vance McDonald, acquired in a trade in the preseason, are more productive than they were early in the season.
“It’s the evolution of a group of guys,” Haley said. “In this league you have to be getting better every week, but now the real action starts.”
Haley believes that in the post-season “the more big time players you have the better,” and that would include Antonio Brown, who will return after missing two games with a calf injury.
“Any time you have the best at what he does playing, that’s a big thing,” Haley said of Brown.