A week after scoring a monumental road victory over the Buffalo Bills, the Pittsburgh Steelers returned home to Heinz Field and dropped a tough 26-17 decision to the visiting Las Vegas Raiders in a game at the during which the Steelers lost Tyson Alualu and TJ Watt to injuries after previously being without Joe Haden and Devin Bush, then watched starting right-wing goaltender Trai Turner get kicked out late in the third quarter, ending a loss tough in a game many thought was a Steelers win.
Coming out of this one, I’m not as depressed as I expected if the Steelers were to lose to the Raiders, given that Las Vegas looks like a very solid team led by Derek Carr and an efficient offense paired with a his, intelligent defense with a good pass. Knowing that the Steelers had so many injuries today makes me feel as good as I can be with a loss as I am right now.
It stinks to drop to 1-1, no doubt, but there’s just no way it’s your typical Steelers loss to the opponent we saw in Mike Tomlin’s day. Give credit where credit is due.
That said, I’m still very, very concerned about the Steelers’ offensive line and offense in general. They continue to look really rough, almost like watching the paint dry. Unable to really do anything offensively, a talented defense – already struggling with depth issues – turns gassy in the second half.
Let’s move on to the notes and try to overcome this loss.
QB – C-
Look, Ben Roethlisberger is taking way too many punches in the pocket behind a porous offensive line. I’m worried about his health throughout the season because he’s taking hits.
That said, it just doesn’t perform very well overall. He’s not much on the same wavelength as Diontae Johnson, takes way too many shots down and throws into space, wastes plays, and just doesn’t provide the offensive spark that many were waiting.
However, it is still very early in the Matt Canada era and growing pains were expected. Roethlisberger’s prayer that he vomited in the first quarter was ugly, but after that he was fine – nothing good, nothing bad. He did what he could to quickly get rid of the football behind the line of scrimmage, using midfield for JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie winger Pat Freiermuth, and connected on a down shot at Chase Claypool to set up a Steelers’ landing. Earlier in the game, Roethlisberger hit Johnson on the same sideline for 41 yards.
There are just a few concerns with Roethlisberger that I have right now that makes me wonder what this offense can achieve even in the home stretch. There is still a lot of time left.
RB – B-
I feel so bad for Najee Harris right now. Like I said earlier, I was expecting growing pains, but he has absolutely no room to operate on the pitch behind the Steelers’ rebuilt offensive line. Harris ran 38 yards on 10 carries, including a 14-yard one. Take off Harris’ 14 yards and he’s averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. Not great, Bob!
Where Harris made plays was in the passing game where he received more work than he did in Week 1. Harris passed five passes for 43 yards and made a great job breaking a tackle and getting into the end zone on his 25 yards. touchdown, diving across the goal line for the score.
He’s likely going to have even more work in the passing game on short checks and option routes out of the backfield, as the Steelers need to get the ball into their playmakers’ hands more often and relieve Roethlisberger and the offensive line in motion. cheeky.
WR – C
Johnson had a good day in the home opener, finishing with nine catches for 105 yards and one scoring, showing his ability to open the job with the best of the best in the NFL. The final touch of play for the young receiver was rather disconcerting as he took a trivial hit on a play that didn’t matter and was down long after the game. Just a stupid overall decision on the part of the Steelers’ offensive coaching staff.
I didn’t like how Johnson failed to work through contact on Roethlisberger’s early interception, giving up play leading to an easy interception from the Raiders.
Chase Claypool landed a big 52-yard catch on the left sideline in the fourth quarter, but with all the targets deep in the field, he struggled to finish plays and didn’t shoot any penalties.
JuJu Smith-Schuster was very good on Sunday, making a number of first-down catches, finishing with six receptions for 41 yards and adding a 3-yard touchdown, showcasing his tackle-breaking abilities.
TE – C-
It might be time for rookie Pat Freiermuth to take on the real starting role ahead of Eric Ebron at this point. Freiermuth was solid on Sunday, finishing with four catches for 36 yards, working on the Raiders in midfield. He was a solid control option in the middle as the Steelers were in comeback mode.
Freiermuth was also a good tackle thanks to the live view, providing some key blocks on the Smith-Schuster touchdown and Harris’ 14-yard run.
As for Eric Ebron, he was again under the line as a blocker and under the line as a catcher, dropping his only target in the game. We could witness the changing of the guard at the position as Ebron was pretty calm after that.
This group is really, really tough.
From Trai Turner ejected for utter stupidity spitting at an opponent and Kendrick Green roughed up after the whistle trying to establish dominance, to the Raiders racking up 10 hits and two sacks, the offensive line was largely an embarrassment on Sunday.
Dan Moore Jr. continues to struggle here and there on pass rush reps, allowing for pressure, but he hasn’t really shown much in the running game.
Kevin Dotson was average on Sunday; he struggles to create a lot of things in the racing game, while Turner was virtually invisible until the ejection. His pocket will be much lighter this week. On the right tackle, Chukwuma Okorafor is almost unplayable at this point. He gives up way too much pressure and cleared a sack that day, and he’s not a factor in the running game as he just can’t move people in place.
I don’t know how this group is still improving noticeably from week to week, other than just adding reps to their credit.
DL – B +
It’s a shame Tyson Alualu is lost for the season due to the ankle injury he suffered early in the loss to the Raiders as he was pretty solid early in the game. Now the Steelers have yet another key defensive lineman, damaging the depth the Steelers apparently had in the trenches on the defensive side of football.
After Alualu was released, I thought Cam Heyward was phenomenal again. Heyward recorded a tackle for a loss, smashed a third assist on the line of scrimmage and finished with seven tackles, once again an inside force for the Steelers.
Chris Wormley was fine in limited action, finishing with a tackle and a pass at the scrimmage line. With Alualu likely lost for the season, Wormley will need to step up his efforts for the Steelers, at least until Stephon Tuitt returns.
LB – B-
Before injuring himself in the second quarter, TJ Watt was once again phenomenal in rushing the passer. Watt registered a sack and forced his 14th forced fumble at the top of the NFL. Unfortunately, the Steelers couldn’t get the ball back. Once Watt came out, Melvin Ingram really showed what he can do in an expanded role. Ingram recorded a sack, got a detention penalty and was all over for the Steelers.
Alex Highsmith was rather calm, finishing with three tackles and one tackle for a loss, but at times he seemed to get serious attention from the Raiders, who were certainly worried about the speed rusher in front of Watt and Ingram. Second-year pro Jamir Jones also had a few points with Watt down, finishing with two tackles and a quarterback hit. Hopefully Watt doesn’t run out of time.
On the inside, without Devin Bush due to a groin injury, I thought Robert Spillane and Joe Schobert were doing fine as the Steelers linebacker. Spillane flew around, made a few plays around the line of scrimmage and held on in cover, finishing with a team record of 12 tackles and a loss tackle. Schobert more than held up in cover, helping to limit Raiders tight end Darren Waller to just five catches for 65 yards, although Waller had some big catches on Schobert in cover late in the game, and had gave Foster Moreau a big catch at the bottom of the seam.
DB – C-
Henry Ruggs ‘touchdown aside, the Steelers high school went well on Sunday, holding the Raiders’ passing game mostly in check without Joe Haden. That said, I really didn’t enjoy seeing the Steelers blitz Minkah Fitzpatrick, especially a week after the Steelers got super creative with him in the cover. You’d think the Steelers would have made sure Minkah was walking around the high school with Haden down, but it wasn’t.
James Pierre was below the line on Sunday struggling in the cover at times but it was nice to see him run more and learn on the fly which will make him better in the long run. Cameron Sutton was also rather calm, playing almost exclusively in the slot machine after watching live with Haden, forcing guys like Justin Layne and newly acquired Akhello Witherspoon onto the field. Witherspoon was in cover for Ruggs’ decisive 61-yard touchdown.
I liked what I saw of Terrell Edmunds, especially around the line of scrimmage. Edmunds finished with six tackles and two tackles for a loss and looked really comfortable living around the line of scrimmage.
Special teams – A-
Hats off to Chris Boswell for scoring the longest field goal in Heinz Field history on Sunday, breaking through his 56-yard field goal to make history.
Boswell aside, I liked what I saw of rookie punter Pressley Harvin III, who averaged nearly 50 yards per punt and three of his four punters inside the line. of the Raiders’ 20 yards, including one inside the 5-yard line.
The kicking coverage was also pretty strong, although the Steelers special teams had a blunder on a 16-yard punt return by Hunter Renfrow. I liked what I saw of Ray-Ray McCloud on his 32-yard kick return, although I hated seeing him get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a kick return that placed the Steelers on their own 8-yard line.