- Previously covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star and Oklahoma University for the Oklahoman.
PITTSBURGH — After the Steelers scored only 17 points off five turnovers in the wild overtime win against the Bengals in Week 1, quarterback Mitch Trubisky said Wednesday he and his unit have to be more aggressive.
“When your defense is playing that well, and they’re getting turnovers, you just want to take care of the football, but we’ve got to have that killer mindset, that aggressive mentality to really take teams out of the game and just not allow them to keep it close,” Trubisky said.
With Minkah Fitzpatrick’s game-opening pick-six accounting for one score, the Steelers’ offense only added 10 points off turnovers thanks to a field goal and a touchdown. The rest of those possessions ended in punts.
“When our defense gets turnovers, we need to turn those into points,” Trubisky said. “That’s my mindset. And that’s what we’re thinking about when we get the ball taken away, we’ve got to turn it into touchdowns and not just field goals.”
The Steelers offense didn’t commit any turnovers in the overtime win, but by playing conservatively, they didn’t take many downfield shots. That was by design, Tomlin said.
“With downfield throwing comes the potential of negativity and turning the ball over,” he said.
“Environmentally, in the structure of how they function, we did what we thought was appropriate to win the game last week. It has no bearing on how we’re going to function this week.”
Trubisky connected on just 2 of 7 attempts of over 20 yards, and according to Next Gen Stats, 10.5% of Trubisky’s attempts traveled more than 20 air yards. On the day, Trubisky was 21-of-38 for 194 yards and a touchdown. Two of his longest completions came in overtime: a 26-yard pass to Pat Freiermuth on a broken play and a one-handed grab by Diontae Johnson for a 25-yard gain. Though he had previously missed on other throws, including a deep shot to George Pickens, Trubisky’s ability to connect with his receivers stemmed from his veteran experience in crunch time.
“I’ve been in overtime situations before, and we were just lucky to get the ball back,” Trubisky said. “For our defense to get a bunch of great stops and have the opportunity to go down and put [Chris Boswell] in another situation, give them the game-winning field goal. It was exciting, and it was a lot of fun. I think the experience definitely paid off.”
While his coach tried to be conservative to limit turnover potential, Trubisky didn’t feel like he was holding back in the downfield attack.
“I think we took a good amount of deep balls in the last game,” Trubisky said. “We’ve just got to hit them. And if I think if you hit them earlier, then that opens up the intermediate and short stuff as well.
“You want to connect on those and then either they open up more of those or it opens up other routes and it opens up the run game as well. Once you hit those, I think you really see where you’re at, and what else opens up within your offense.”
To increase accuracy on the deep balls and improve their third-down outcomes — the Steelers were just 4-of-15 on third down — Trubisky cited a necessary improvement in his timing.
“I think timing … from my perspective can be better — either getting it out a little sooner or waiting for the plays to develop a little more, just to a lot of guys to be in the right spot at the right time,” he said. “But, overall we just need to execute and make the plays.”
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