The Steelers' two-game win streak skidded to an abrupt halt on Sunday against the Texans.
Pittsburgh found it impossible to generate anything of significance against Houston's bottom-10-ranked scoring defense, getting shut out of the end zone in a runaway 30-6 defeat in which the defense, for once, looked similarly lifeless.
"Hell yeah, we got to make some changes, man," head coach Mike Tomlin said to close his postgame news conference. "That was an ugly product we put out there today. We're not going to do the same things and hope for a different outcome. What those changes are, we'll put together a plan in preparation this week."
That's a bold, angry declaration from the head coach in his 17th year -- something to be expected after finding oneself at the receiving end of a drubbing.
The Steelers' first drive resulted in an interception, and six of their next eight ended with a punt or turnover on downs. Kenny Pickett had only 114 passing yards when he left the game at the end of the third quarter with a knee injury. Backup Mitchell Trubisky added 18 more yards on the two possessions he led, and Pittsburgh finished with 111 net passing yards and 225 total net yards.
Conversely, the havoc-wreaking Steelers defense that entered Week 4 with a league-leading 13 sacks was absent. The unit registered 11 pressures on C.J. Stroud, but never brought the QB down and didn't force a turnover while allowing 451 total net yards.
It was utter domination by a Houston squad that finished with the second-worst record in 2022, and is now led by a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback.
But Tomlin's postgame indignation is also a symptom of Pittsburgh's season overall to this point.
The Steelers'.500 record is somewhat of a Band-Aid, covering up the team's woeful offensive performances.
Pittsburgh entered the day ranked 27th in scoring and did nothing to rectify its standing. It put up a season-low six points, marking the third time in four games that the offense has managed one or fewer TDs. Even in a Week 2 victory over the Browns, the Steelers went into the fourth quarter trailing by three, gained -7 yards and still won, 26-22, on the back of the defense's second score of the game.
No such performance came from T.J. Watt and Co. today, and even two hypothetical TDs courtesy that side of the ball wouldn't have made up the difference.
"Not a good day at the office for us," Tomlin said. "From an agenda standpoint, we didn't do a lot of the things that we desired to do. We didn't stop a lot of the things that we thought that they desired to do. And thus, the outcome."
It's a simple enough explanation for a chronic problem that is anything but.
Some of the change in Pittsburgh's future could be involuntary depending on the extent of Pickett's knee injury. Whether Tomlin's other adjustments involve offensive coordinator Matt Canada's play-calling or fiddling with the lineup remains to be seen, as does whether or not they result in a better product.