Week one is in the books and while the tie feels like a loss, some good can be taken from this game. Let’s review the Steelers epic tie with the Cleveland Browns.
James Conner – Probably the best thing about this game is that Pittsburgh now knows they can go on with or without Le’Veon Bell. Conner broke out in a big way with 192 yards of total offense. The one negative for him on the day was the fumble deep in their own territory. It resulted in a touchdown for the Browns one play later. The fumble aside, Conner was as good as the Steelers could have hoped for.
Ryan Switzer – There was a strange siting in Cleveland on Sunday. A very rare and wonderful happening almost too good to believe. A returner not named Antonio Brown actually looked good out there. Shocking, I know. Once again general manager Kevin Colbert has made a last minute addition to the roster which will have a season long affect on this team. Ryan Switzer averaged 23 yards per kick return, and looked dangerous every time he touched the ball. He even chipped in on offense with an eight yard run.
The defense?: Yes that’s right I said it. Normally I am very critical of this defense, but there’s not much to complain about from Sunday. Now we need to have a disclaimer here, this was Tyrod Taylor they were up against. Despite that, there was plenty to like in this game. TJ Watt was an absolute force out there with 11 tackles, 3 sacks, and a crucial blocked field goal. The pass rush as a whole was excellent all day. It should be pointed out that Sean Davis showed some real flashes in his new role as free safety. This team may have finally found the athletic center fielder they’ve been looking for. Overall the defense was the reason why this game didn’t turn out much worse than it did. Considering how many turnovers the offense had, this game could have easily gotten out of hand. It’s a very encouraging start to the season for this group.
THE (NOT SO) BAD:
Brown and Smith-Schuster: This duo combined for over 200 yards receiving and a touchdown. Still, at times during the game they seemed non-existent. This may have been more about how Roethlisberger played than anything else. AB and Ben looked particularly out of sync for most of the game.
Alejandro Villanueva – On the surface his performance looks pretty poor considering how good Myles Garrett was on Sunday. But when you break down the game a little closer, you see Villanueva actually did a commendable job dealing with Garrett. It was clear Ben Roethlisberger was holding the ball too long on several occasions during the game. On one Garrett sack in particular, Big Ben held the ball for over five seconds before being sacked. That’s an eternity in today’s NFL.
Cam Sutton – Sutton got thrown into duty after the injury to Joe Haden. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad game at all for the second year corner. He did give up a touchdown to Josh Gordon, and another big play to Rasheed Higgins down the sideline. Sutton did have an interception and a pass breakup during the game as well. It was an up and down performance to be sure, but one he can build on going forward.
Ben Roethlisberger – When is 335 yards passing ugly you ask? Well the answer is when it is accompanied by three interceptions and a fumble….. that’s how. Two things we have become accustomed to over the last few years are road Ben and early season Ben are just plain bad. When you combine the two….whoa watch out. This tie(loss) is squarely on his shoulders. Just take away his turnovers, and this game is a blowout for the Steelers. Hopefully Big Ben gets back on track at home against a bad Chiefs defense next week.
Artie Burns – Artie Burns pulled off the idiot trifecta on Sunday. First off , he got called for unnecessary roughness for basically pulling a wrestling take down of Jarvis Landry. Then he doubled down on the stupidity by removing his helmet on the play. Wait…. Burns wasn’t finished…..he completed the debacle by jawing with former OC Todd Haley. Even after all this I’d be inclined to give the player a pass, but in Burns case we have seen behavior like this too often now.
Chris Boswell – I know there are plenty of reasons why Boswell missed the kick. The weather, the high snap, the distance blah blah blah. The Steelers gave Boswell his new contract because he has become an elite kicker, and elite kickers make that kick. Boswell won his share of games for this team, and I’m sure he will win many more. On this day however, he missed a crucial one that would’ve allowed the team to steal the game.