Steelers Offense Explodes for Big Day Against Bengals After Firing Matt Canada

The Steelers offense has been a point of contention under Matt Canada and took a key step forward in Pittsburgh's first game since his firing.

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense has been a point of contention throughout the season, given its struggles under longtime coordinator Matt Canada.

Pittsburgh finally decided to move on from Canada and was rewarded with a historic outing from its offense Sunday on the way to a crucial 16-10 win over the division rival Cincinnati Bengals.

Steelers Offense Explodes Post-Matt Canada

Although the Steelers’ 16-point output on Sunday might not look like much, the offense was certainly more productive than it had been in some time during the victory.

Pittsburgh racked up 421 yards of total offense, ending a drought of 58 straight regular-season games without eclipsing the 400-yard mark on offense, according to Underdog NFL. That streak included Canada’s 45 games as the Steelers offensive coordinator after he took over the role prior to the 2021 season.

“I thought we spread the ball around; we changed things up schematically with different launch points,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters after the game. “We attacked down the field early when they were in split safeties. We weren’t going to let them sit in that comfortably all day. We did what we needed to do.”

Pittsburgh last surpassed 400 yards of offense in the regular season during Week 2 of 2020, when it rattled off 410 total yards in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos. The Steelers also posted 553 yards in their 48-37 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card Round of the 2020 playoffs.

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Tomlin made the decision to fire Canada this past week because improvements to the offense weren’t “rapid enough or consistent enough,” he told reporters.

“I’m looking for more fluidity in our play,” Tomlin told reporters at the time. “I’m looking to reduce the amount of negativity in our play, however you describe it, and I’m looking to increase the potential for splash or the positive components in play. And when you have more fluidity down in and down out, you have an opportunity for those things to develop. And quite frankly, those things weren’t developing fast enough.”

Eddie Faulkner Gets Offense Rolling

Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner was named the team’s interim offensive coordinator, and the offense quickly got rolling under his guidance on Sunday.

Kenny Pickett had his most productive game of the season yardage-wise in completing 24 of his 33 pass attempts for 278 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Pat Freiermuth hauled in nine passes for 120 yards, and Najee Harris had 15 carries for 99 yards and the Steelers’ lone touchdown — season-best yardage totals for both players.

“It’s definitely different with a new play-caller,” Pickett said after the game. “You kind of get used to the flow of how he likes to call things, and that’s something that we’re going to continue to iron out. We felt like every drive we were having productive drives, moving the ball really well.

“Some penalty things and a turnover that we wish — you want to take that out. That would help us put more points up. But overall, I’m happy with how those guys played.”

Faulkner expressed vocal support for Canada after his firing, saying the move made his subsequent promotion “a little bit bittersweet” and taking responsibility as part of Pittsburgh’s struggles on offense.

“We all felt that we’re all part of that,” Faulkner told reporters. “Nobody’s absolving themselves from anything that’s happened in that regard. We feel like we let [Canada] down. I got to say that because that’s what a real one would do. That’s a friend of mine, and that’s not going to change.”

Ultimately, though, the change appears to have brought about a greater degree of offensive success. Who knows how long that will last, but the early returns are promising for a Steelers team that remains in the thick of the playoff race at 7-4.

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