The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a demoralizing 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, and head coach Mike Tomlin didn't sugarcoat things in his assessment of the team's performance.
While speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Tomlin said, "Largely we were a disaster in all three phases. We all have to own that, beginning with me."
The Steelers fell to 1-4 after their fourth consecutive loss, the team's longest losing streak since 2013. The 35-point loss was Pittsburgh's largest margin of defeat since 1989 when they lost 51-0 to the Cleveland Browns.
Tomlin added that he accepts ownership for the team's poor performance, saying, "When it's that bad across the board, it starts with me."
The Steelers had hoped that handing the reins to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett would provide a spark, but he was somewhat lackluster in his first NFL start. The No. 20 pick in this year's draft finished with 327 yards, no touchdowns and an interception on 34-of-52 passing. Pittsburgh's offense was doomed by its lack of balance, as the team ran the ball just 17 times.
However, it's really the Steelers defense that has been a complete letdown this year. Pittsburgh ranks 30th in the league, with opponents averaging 416.8 yards against them through the first five games of the season. Star defensive end and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt hasn't played since Week 1 while he recovers from a pectoral injury, and his return has been delayed by recent arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Steelers also picked up more injuries to key players against the Bills, as tight end Pat Freiermuth suffered a concussion and cornerback Levi Wallace entered concussion protocols. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi also left the game early with a back injury.
Things won't get easier for Pittsburgh in Week 6 when the team hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2) on Sunday.