The beginning of the regular season is always an exciting and hope filled time. This is especially true when you have realistic expectations of winning the Super Bowl. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 2017 season is one they have been looking forward to since the disappointing end to the 2016 season. With the 2017 season finally upon us, Pittsburgh vastly under performed in their opener vs. Cleveland. The offense was slow, the defense was average at best, and penalties were abundant. However, the Steelers walked away with a 21-18 victory, and a 1-0 record heading into Week two.
Pittsburgh Steelers Week One Takeaways
Offensively, the Steelers could not have looked much more sluggish to open the game. Punting on their first four possessions, the offense could not gain significant yardage. It was not until Antonio Brown took over that the offense began to look like themselves. Brown racked up 84 receiving yards on Pittsburgh’s 5th possession, setting up the first of Jesse James’ two touchdowns. Brown continued to show why he is considered the best wide receiver in the league, finishing with 182 yards on 11 receptions. Despite Brown’s massive day, the offense looked subpar and will need to improve for next week.
Big Plays Save Defense
The defense did not look much better than the offense. Although they gave up only 18 points, it was to the Cleveland Browns offense. The secondary continues to miss tackles and give up significant yardage. Luckily for the defense, a big plays bailed them out. Cleveland’s first punt was blocked and recovered by Anthony Chickillo in the end zone. Also, the defense got to rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer seven times for a total loss of 42 yards. Chickillo added two sacks to his touchdown, and rookie T.J. Watt also picked up the first two sacks of his career.
Penalties Prove Costly
The most glaring negative from Week One was the penalties. The Steelers committed 13 penalties, giving the Browns a total of 144 yards. It was not just the sheer amount of penalties that was bad, it was the timing that hurt the Steelers. Two holding calls on the first drive of the season killed any chance of scoring. A touchdown on the first drive would have put Pittsburgh up 14-0 and set the tone for the season. A pass interference on Sean Davis set up a Browns touchdown on the next drive, tying the game at seven.
The penalties helped Cleveland stay in the game. One of the biggest culprits was rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was guilty of holding twice. With the running game struggling it seemed as if every decent run play was followed by a holding call. Look for Pittsburgh to emphasize the importance of playing clean football before next week’s match up with the Vikings.
Although ugly, the result of a win is all that matters. With the win, Pittsburgh moves to 1-0 overall, and also 1-0 in the division. Despite the many concerns that arose on Sunday, any day that results in a win is a successful one. Next week, the Steelers will host the Vikings in the 2017 home opener.