Prisuta's Fourth & Goal

Bruce Arians wants his offense to score a point for every minute of possession. Last Sunday against Green Bay, that time and those points were money.

It had been the goal all season, and had been publicly stated as such by OC Bruce Arians during the bye week, with the Steelers sitting at 5-2 and on their way to 6-2.

The objective for the offense, the expectation of the offense, was a point per minute of possession each game.

It was a goal the offense had achieved once over the first 12 games when the Steelers had the ball for 27:25 and scored 28 points at Detroit).

They had come close against on Oct. 4 against San Diego (38 points in 40:20).

And they had technically surpassed their standard on Oct. 25 against Minnesota, but the 27 points registered against the Vikings in 23:02 included a pair of defensive returns for TDs.

Then came Green Bay and 537 total net yards and the drive that changed everything and the clutch touchdown that reminded the Steelers' offense about the standard to which it should aspire, and about the damage it's capable of inflicting when it doesn't turn the ball over.

"That's something we need to really strive for," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on Wednesday, after citing Arians' stated goal. "We should at least put three points on the board every time we have the ball.

"Obviously, the other teams have good defenses and they get paid, as well. But offensively, we hold ourselves to high standards."

To a point-a-minute-of-possession standard against anyone they come up against the rest of the way.

"It's very realistic," wide receiver Hines Ward said on Wednesday. "You look at us statistically, two 1,000-yard receivers, almost a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher, Heath (Miller) is having his best season.

"We have the weapons."

They've had them all season.

What they had been lacking was the ability to consistently build on leads or take leads late when necessary, as they had so often a season ago.

Had the offense been more efficient, had more points been scored when opportunities presented themselves at Chicago, at Cincinnati, at Kansas City and against Oakland, blown leads by the defense wouldn't have become the issue they've become and the Steelers would be an 11-3 football team.

They'd be a 6-8 team had they not mustered all of their offensive potential to steal last Sunday's game against a Green Bay defense that came in ranked No. 2 in total defense, No. 2 against the rush and No. 3 against the pass.

"Green Bay's a great team," Ward said. "We played against a great team, and we know we can play if we go out there and play like we did. We didn't turn the ball over. I think we matched point-for-point every time they scored."

They certainly responded in the fourth quarter, countering Green Bay scores on the following possession after the Packers had closed to within 24-21, after Green Bay had taken a 28-27 lead, and after the Pack had grabbed a 36-30 advantage.

"Offensively, hopefully we can gain from that and continue to grow," Ward said.

Given the state of the defense, the offense is going to have to gain and grow and outscore people the rest of the way if the Steelers are to salvage their season.

The vibe on Wednesday from Roethlisberger and Ward was that the offense seems to understand as much, and that it's ready, willing and able to accept such a responsibility.

In other words, anticipate more 52:18 pass-run ratios and bet the over the rest of the way.

"It's probably hard for people to really wrap their head and their fingers around, but this offense is changing," Roethlisberger said. "This team is changing on offense. It's not a run-it-first team anymore, and that's not a bad thing, it really isn't.

"I've said that 1,000 times, that the league evolves offensively and defensively. Offensively, it has evolved. You have to keep up with those teams, the Indianapolises, the Saints, because if you don't you're going to get left behind."

And left out in January.

Merry Christmas.

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