All the goodwill and optimism provided by a perfect preseason vanished for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the harsh reality of their regular-season opener.
Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense, which had stoked expectations after scoring on each of their preseason drives, were rag-dolled in a Week 1 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers, 30-7 -- the most lopsided home defeat in the Mike Tomlin era.
While the 49ers emerged looking every bit like an NFC Super Bowl contender, the Steelers limped away from Acrisure Stadium looking like preseason pretenders.
"We accept responsibility obviously for the outcome," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game, via the team website. "We compliment those guys on the quality of work that they did. We absorb the negativity that comes with how we performed today, and we go back to work. We've got to prepare them better. They've got to play better. That's just the reality of it.
"We got kicked in the teeth today in a lot of ways."
In a lot of ways, indeed.
The Steelers defense allowed Christian McCaffrey to ramble for 152 yards on the ground, CMC's highest total as a 49er and since Week 5 of 2019.
The Steelers offense was truly woeful to the tune of 239 yards of total offense (a paltry 3.9 yards per play). Pittsburgh fell behind, 20-0, in the first half and got shut out in the second.
Just as great as Pickett and Co. looked weeks earlier, they looked unwell on Sunday.
"We didn't win enough possession downs to be competitive," Tomlin said. "You can't start games 0-5 on third down and think you're going to have the type of day that you desire. You've got to win the weighty downs."
Pittsburgh was 5-for-15 on third downs in the game with Pickett throwing a pair of interceptions (along with a touchdown to Pat Freiermuth). Over his last eight games of 2022, Pickett had just one pick.
Tomlin, who's helmed the Steelers since 2007, had just two home losses of 15-plus points in his tenure prior to Sunday.
Week 1 was a wake-up call for the Steelers.
"Disappointing day for us," Tomlin said. "Not how we wanted to perform."