Changes coming for Steelers after loss, Tomlin says | News, Sports, Jobs


Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin meets with reporters following the team’s 30-13 loss ton the Indianapolis Colts in an NFL football game Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS — Mike Tomlin is tired of losing.

After the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their third straight, 30-13 at Indianapolis on Saturday, he promised changes. Tomlin didn’t provide specifics in the immediate aftermath of another dismal offensive performance, but it looks like Pittsburgh could have a new starting quarterback next week at Cincinnati.

“Everything is on the table at this juncture. We cannot continue to play football like this,” said Tomlin, the 17th-year Steelers coach who has never finished with a losing record. “We’ve got to make changes and we need to do it immediately. We’re not going to roll the ball out next week like we did today.”

The simplest solution might be the return of quarterback Kenny Pickett, who had helped the Steelers stay in the playoff hunt despite leading one of the NFL’s lowest-scoring offenses. He’s missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle. Tomlin has said it’s possible Pickett could return next week.

If he can’t go, Tomlin must decide whether to stay with Mitch Trubisky, who started Pittsburgh’s last two games, or give a chance to Mason Rudolph, who relieved Trubisky late against the Colts.

Trubisky finished 16 of 23 for 169 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and two interceptions and was sacked three times. He also scored on a 1-yard plunge that was initially ruled a fumble but was overturned on a replay review.

After taking a 13-0 lead in the first 16 minutes, with one score coming after the Steelers recovered a blocked punt inside the Colts 1-yard line, Pittsburgh only had one more scoring chance — and Tomlin opted to punt instead of trying a 56-yard field goal.

The Steelers finished with 216 total yards, including 74 on the ground. Najee Harris had 12 carries for 33 yards.

Rudolph has started two games in four seasons, a 24-22 loss to Cleveland in the 2021 season finale and a 16-16 tie with Detroit in 2022. He was 2 of 3 for 3 yards Saturday.

But with the Steelers sinking to last place in the rugged AFC North and their scoring average dropping to 15.9 points per game, it’s clear they need a new direction.

“We don’t have the answers right now, but we’re going to find them,” Trubisky said. “We’re going to work tirelessly at it, we’re going to come together, and our leaders have to step up.”

While the offense is the most glaring problem, there are other issues.

Pittsburgh’s defense allowed Gardner Minshew to throw a career high-tying three TD passes and gave up 170 yards rushing to a backfield that was missing 2021 league rushing champion Jonathan Taylor and its leading rusher this season, Zack Moss, who left with a right arm injury after carrying four times for 13 yards.

Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson produced 157 yards rushing on 28 combined carries. Both spent most of this season on Indy’s practice squad, as did receiver D.J. Montgomery, whose 16-yard TD catch gave Indy a 14-13 lead just before halftime.

The Colts scored the last 30 points.

“You’re playing losing football. You’re not playing good enough to win,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said when asked to describe Tomlin’s postgame message. “It’s simple for us right now: How much does it mean to you? The road (to the playoffs) is getting narrow.”

As Pittsburgh begins its final three-week stretch, finding a way to score points — with or without Pickett — remains the top priority for Tomlin.

The Steelers have scored fewer than 20 points in five consecutive games and have more than 20 just once in their last eight. Firing offensive coordinator Matt Canada in mid-November didn’t make a difference.

Trubisky, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2017, got his chances the last two weeks — and lost twice.

“Let’s be honest, we’re a fundamentally poor football team right now. We’re playing losing football, and I own that,” Tomlin said. “I don’t necessarily have the answers today. If I did, we’d have played differently today. But I will acknowledge things will not continue the way they are.”

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