Week one is in the books, so it’s time for our new weekly series called “Steelers studs and duds”. Each week we will highlight which players did well, and which ones played poorly. This week it’s a pretty clear separation of defensive studs, and offensive duds as Pittsburgh’s defense was dominant against the Bills. The offensive however, still leaves a lot to be desired.
Plays like this pretty much some up Cam Heyward’s entire afternoon.
Heyward completely dominated the Bills entire interior offensive line all day long. He finished the day with 4 tackles, 1 sack, and two passes defended. This was one of the best performances of Cam Heyward’s already impressive career.
The Edge Rushers…..
It would be unfair to highlight just one player from the three headed monster the Steelers threw out there on Sunday. Each of TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Melvin Ingram had extraordinary games in their own right. If the referees are actually throw flags for holding this season, we could be in for an incredible year for this group.
Cam Sutton may have had his best game in a Steelers uniform against Buffalo. Sutton seemed to be everywhere on Sunday, and his stats back that up. He had 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and two passes defended in the game. This performance bodes well for the Steelers secondary going forward. They will be relying heavily on Sutton with the losses of Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson this past off-season.
Lost in the headlines put forth by this defense was the underrated game Diontae Johnson put together on Sunday. On the surface, his 5 catches for only 36 yards do not look all that impressive. Keep in mind that Ben Roethlisberger was horrendous for most of this game. DJ was open most of the afternoon, and should’ve had a huge day if it were not for several errant throws by Roehtlisberger. Johnson’s acrobatic catch in the end zone was the only touchdown the offense managed on the day.
Second half special teams….
Perhaps the biggest play of the game turned out to be the blocked punt by Miles Killebrew that resulted in a touchdown. That, combined with a huge 45 yard field goal by Chris Boswell that sealed the game, redeemed a special teams unit that was awful in the first half.
This was a very poor performance by the Steelers quarterback on Sunday. Roethlisberger was inaccurate on several throws, and was lucky to leave the game without an interception. Big Ben finished the day 18/32 for only 185 yards, and one touchdown. According to PFF, he was the worst graded quarterback in week one with a 38.0 score. https://www.pff.com/nfl/grades/position/qb
Roethlisberger was the clear loser in the Steelers studs and duds on this day. This team will need much better form him going forward.
The Offensive Line….
This group was predictably bad all afternoon. Will the Steelers offensive line be their undoing in 2021?There was precious little running room for rookie running back Najee Harris, and the pass protection was only slightly better.
There is a bright side however. Considering all they were up against, things could have gone a whole lot worse. Being on the road with essentially a completely new offensive line would have spelled disaster in most cases. As bad as it was at times, this could hardly be called a disaster. The line had it’s moments, and there is hope that they may actually be a competent unit this season.
The play of Okorafor was particularly concerning against the Bills. He is a clear liability in the run game, and not much better as a pass protector. One can only wonder when and if Zach Banner becomes healthy, if it will be Okorafor and not Dan Moore Jr. as the odd man out.
First half special teams…
The game against the Bills started off disastrously with a long kickoff return that nearly resulted in a touchdown. Add in a few bad punts from rookie Pressley Harvin, and Danny Smith’s unit was not looking too good early on. Thankfully as we stated earlier, they managed to redeem themselves in the second half.