CINCINNATI — Jaylen Warren tried to use his words carefully, but even while doing so, the Steelers running back gave interesting insight into Pittsburgh’s first game since Matt Canada’s dismissal as offensive coordinator.
With assistants Eddie Faulker and Mike Sullivan splitting coordinator duties, the Steelers had their best offensive performance since Ben Roethlisberger’s second-to-last season. The unit rolled up 421 yards while maintaining stellar balance throughout Pittsburgh’s 16-10 win over the Bengals.
“More communication,” Warren said of the difference in Pittsburgh’s offense. “I don’t know how to say this without being too explicit, but more willing to take shots. Taking more risks.”
Pittsburgh’s willingness to take more shots was evident on the first play of the game, when Kenny Pickett made a quick read and hit tight end Pat Freiermuth for a 24-yard gain. It was the first of six plays the Steelers had that covered at least 20 yards.
**Play occurred on drive that ended with a Steelers score
Freiermuth, who wears Lynn Swann’s old No. 88, put up a stat line on Sunday similar to some of the ones Swann put up during his Hall of Fame career with 120 yards on nine grabs. Freiermuth entered Sunday’s game with 60 yards on nine catches this season.
“It definitely helps,” fellow tight end Connor Heyward said of Freiermuth’s presence after he missed significant time earlier this year due to injury. “That and when Kenny’s finding us over the middle. It helps a lot. They gave us those looks, and you’ve got to make the most of it, and we did today.”
Speaking of the middle, that was an area of the field that Pickett attacked more on Sunday than in prior weeks. While that was surely a byproduct of what the Bengals’ defense was doing, it was also probably a concerted effort on Pickett’s part.
The inclusion of Pittsburgh’s tight ends was also a factor in the Steelers’ success….