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Keys to the game: Pittsburgh Steelers need to reduce number of penalties

With a weak secondary and several key players out due to injury or suspension, the Steelers cannot afford to give away yards through avoidable penalties.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

There were so many frustrating aspects to the Pittsburgh Steelers season opener that several lower-profile problems flew under the radar. Some of the most glaring problems: Rob Gronkowski completely uncovered more than once, multiple instances of poor clock management, and a failed trick play at the beginning of the game when a simple play action would have been adequate.

The Steelers also gave up an inexcusable number of yards with avoidable penalties. How bad was it? Four teams will take to the field on Monday night, but of the 28 teams that have already played, the Steelers ranked fifth in terms of total yards given up to penalties. How many yards? Seventy-seven yards on eight penalties.

The Buffalo Bills totaled an astounding 113 yards on 11 penalties en route to their victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Every other team that totaled more penalty yards than the Steelers was a loser on Sunday. Cleveland had 12 penalties for 109 yards; Tampa Bay had 12 penalties for 97 yards, and Washington had 11 penalties for 88 yards. The Baltimore Ravens had only three penalties for 15 yards. Carolina, Kansas City, and Jacksonville all 25 yards or less in penalties.

The main offenders on Thursday were Kelvin Beachum and Cortez Allen. Beachum had 3 penalties for 19 yards. Two of those penalties were pre-snap penalties, one a false start, and the other an illegal formation. His final penalty was an illegal use of hands. Allen totaled the highest number of penalty yards with two penalties for 33 yards. These came in the form of defensive holding and defensive pass interference.

With troubles on the defensive side of the ball and Maurkice Pouncey, Le'Veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant all missing for the upcoming game against San Francisco on September 20, the Steelers can ill afford to repeat those sorts of mistakes and give yards away.