The Steelers went into Seattle on Sunday afternoon and came out with a hard-fought victory that kept the team in playoff contention going into Week 18. Powered by the run game, the Steelers put up 468 yards and 30 points on the Seahawks, securing their 20th straight .500-plus season.
Here are some takeaways from Sunday's game, as well as some insight going forward to Week 18's game against the Ravens.
The Run Game Came to Play
Pittsburgh's strong running back duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren put up a great game on Sunday, with the team totaling 202 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Harris averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 27 rushes, plus two touchdowns, while Warren had an efficient 75 yards and a touchdown, while also adding four receptions and 23 receiving yards.
The run game will need to be spectacular against Baltimore to have a chance at winning and making the playoffs, but they're rounding into shape at the right time.
Mason Rudolph Had a Good Day
Mason Rudolph had a good day, and it was a welcome change for a Steelers’ quarterback group that has been hit-or-miss all season. Rudolph threw for an extremely efficient 274 yards on 18-for-24 passing, and he didn't make a mistake all day.
Rudolph was announced as the starter for Week 18's matchup against the Ravens, and it is well-deserved after his performances the last two weeks. Kenny Pickett will be the backup to Rudolph.
George Pickens had Another Solid Outing
Pickens finished with seven receptions for 131 yards and showed again why he is the Steelers’ best weapon. He didn't have the otherworldly performance he had last week, but he still helped the offense click with the third-string quarterback (who admittedly hasn't played like a third-string at all).
If Pickens can keep up his form for the rest of the season and can come out of the gates firing on all cylinders next season, he may end up being considered one of the top 10 receivers in the NFL. For now, it's a great two-game stretch by a player who has shown glimpses of his talent all season.
The Defense Didn't Play Great, But They Didn't Need to
The defense only had one sack on Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith on Sunday (courtesy of rookie Nick Herbig) and allowed 23 points, but they played just well enough to win. The defense was coming off a massive game against the Bengals where they picked off Jake Browning three times, so the performance was a relative letdown.
The defense will need to show up big time against the Ravens next week, but for now, they can be glad that the offense had a big game to cover for them.
Somehow, the Steelers Have a Chance Going Into Week 18
This Steelers squad, one that has been iffy all season, somehow has a legitimate playoff chance going into their Week 18 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, who have already clinched the top seed in the AFC and a bye for the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Should the Ravens decide to rest starters (which is a real possibility given the animosity between the two teams; the coaches would likely rather lose the game than risk losing one of their major players to injury), the Steelers will have a legitimate chance to win. As it stands, the Steelers have a 17.5% chance of winning the game.
The Steelers have quite a few scenarios going into Week 18. If the Steelers win, they would need one of the following to happen: the Colts and Texans tie, the Bills lose, or the Jaguars lose/tie. If the Steelers tie the Ravens, the Colts and Texans could not tie, and the Jaguars would need to lose. If the Steelers lose, the Colts and Texans would need not to tie, the Jaguars would need to lose, and the Broncos would need to win.
Main Image via