CINCINNATI -- Following his team's dramatic 23-20 overtime win, Mike Tomlin made a point to reward each player that had just finished their first game as a Steeler. Each first-year Steeler, including starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky, received a game ball after helping Pittsburgh pull out a win over the Bengals on the final play of overtime.
"It's good to come in here, in a hostile environment and not blink," Tomlin said after the game. "Particularly the number of new guys -- whether they were rookies or new to us. I just gave all the new guys game balls. The guys that have been here before, there is a certain expectation. They know what the standard of expectation is, but I can't say enough about the new guys and how they came alongside us and fought as if they've been here. And that is just so critical in environments like this."
Tomlin fielded several new players on Sunday, including Trubisky, offensive linemen Mason Cole and James Daniels, receivers George Pickens and Gunner Olszewski, defensive linemen DeMarvin Leal and Larry Ogunjobi, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Levi Wallace. Trubisky, who spent last season as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo, won his first game as the Steelers' starting quarterback after directing the game-winning drive late in overtime. He had three big completions on the drive that included a 26-yard completion to tight end Pat Freiermuth.
"We were playing to win," Trubisky said of the offense's mindset on that last drive. "We had another chance and we wanted to make the most of it. We wanted to be smart and take care of the football but also try to win. We didn't want it to end in a tie but I wasn't thinking about it. It all started with that big chunk play to Pat on the scramble, and special teams did a great job finishing it off."
Trubisky was pretty transparent about his overall performance. The former Pro Bowler finished the game with 194 yards and one touchdown on 21 of 38 passing. Perhaps Trubisky's biggest stat was zero, which was the number of turnovers he had. Conversely, his counterpart, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, threw four interceptions that led to 14 Pittsburgh points.
"It can be a lot better," Trubisky said of his performance. "I need to find more completions, connect down the field and get the ball out. I can be smarter with how I use my legs and pick up more yards. It has to be better on third downs for sure. That's the money down for the quarterback, and you have to stay on the field. It gives the defense a break. We need to find more ways to score points, and I can do better in that aspect."
A thing of beauty@Mtrubisky10 | @ohthatsNajee22 | 📺 #PITvsCIN on CBS | NFL+ https://t.co/E0NYNUzFXC pic.twitter.com/3CVeal9Jrx— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 11, 2022
In general, the Steelers' offense has some work to do. As Trubisky mentioned, Pittsburgh struggled on third down and finished the game with just four conversions on 15 third down situations. The Steelers also struggled to run the ball, finishing the game with a mere 75 yards on 22 carries, with nearly half of those yards being gained by receiver Chase Claypool. Pittsburgh struggled to put together lengthy drives, with only one drive that spanned over 50 yards.
There's work to be done, but on Sunday, the Steelers' offense did just enough to help end their three-game losing skid against the Bengals. Trubisky was also good enough to win his first start in the black and gold.
"I means a lot," Trubisky said of the game ball and the win. "You always want to get the first one, being new to the team. Being back as the starter, it means a lot. It was crazy, but at the end of the day, we found a way. That's all that matters, is the win."
The game was also a memorable one for Ogunjobi, who saw his 2021 season end on this field in January during the Bengals wild card playoff win over the Raiders. Ogunjobi endured a tumultuous offseason before joining the Steelers late in the offseason. He also wore a winner's smile as he relished in his first win with his new team.
"It's a blessing," Ogunjobi told CBS Sports after the win. "You get injured on this field earlier this year and you don't know if you'll be able to play the game again. I just thank God. Being able to get back on the field, getting back to being myself is important."