The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns 21-18 on Sunday. It was far from pretty. Here are some observations from Sunday’s action.
The high-powered Steelers offense struggled on Sunday in Cleveland. The offense looked like a group that hadn’t played a lot together in quite some time. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played all of two series in the preseason, and Le’Veon Bell missed the entire preseason. This unit will get better as the season progresses.
The offensive line struggled to open up running lanes for Bell and James Connor. Gregg Williams had so many Browns defenders around the line of scrimmage and it affected the Steelers line. Also with Bell not being around in training camp, the line and Bell’s timing in the running game was off.
Antonio Brown was targeted 11 times Sunday and finished with 11 catches for 182 yards. Brown is the best receiver in the NFL and, without him, the Steelers don’t win on Sunday. Martavis Bryant. in his first regular season game since ’15, only had two catches. Jesse James had himself a nice afternoon. James finished with six catches and two touchdowns. It was a good performance by James as the Steelers will look to continue to get newly acquired TE Vance McDonald involved in the offense.
The Steelers defense registered seven sacks against rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer. If this defense can get consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback, they have the chance to be special.
First-round pick T.J. Watt had two sacks and an interception in his debut. Anthony Chickillo, who started in place of an injured Bud Dupree, had two sacks of his own and also recovered the blocked punt for a touchdown.
Joe Haden was “above the line” as Coach Mike Tomlin would say. Haden also got in on the sack party as he came off a corner blitz and got his first sack as a Steeler. Mike Mitchell rotated in and out with J.J. Wilcox, who the Steelers traded for from Tampa Bay. Wilcox made his presence felt after delivering a big hit at the goal line on Corey Coleman.
It was a good first game for the defense, and it was good to see them not have communication issues. With new faces in the secondary, there was some concern with communication, but the defense seemed to be on the same page throughout the game.
The special teams provided a “splash” play with the punt block that was picked up in the end zone for a touchdown. The unit’s coverage teams were solid in game one.
The Steelers had 13 penalties for 144 yards. That is completely unacceptable and will need to be corrected.
The only injury concern after Week One is the bicep injury suffered by Stephon Tuitt. Early reports suggested that the team feared he may be out for the season, but it looks like the Steelers dodged a bullet.
Some good news for the #Steelers. Source says DE Stephon Tuitt is week-to-week with a biceps injury. Not season-ending. “He’s OK,” one said.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 11, 2017
Cam Heyward also confirmed that the injury is not season-ending: “We’re definitely breathing a sigh of relief.” Tomlin will give an update tomorrow at his weekly press conference. The Steelers face the Vikings in Pittsburgh on Sunday.