The Pittsburgh Steelers won their second meaningless game Saturday by defeating the Tennessee Titans 16-6 in Week 3 of the NFL Preseason. While the outcome of the game means nothing in regards to the team’s standing heading into the regular season, many players are on the field trying to make plays to secure their spot on the team’s 53-man roster.
During this process, there are those who perform well, and others who fall short of the standard. This is where the Winners and Losers column comes in. After the game, when the dust settles, we decipher who fall into which category.
As always, you are more than welcome to comment on the list in the comment section below. Be a part of the conversation!
This should always be the No. 1 winner after a preseason game, and although the Steelers had some seemingly minor injuries to James Washington and Jesse James, they came out healthy. Cameron Heyward’s knee didn’t look great, but he seemed okay and stayed in the game into the third quarter. Having Heyward, Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey and others all healthy after the final tune up is the biggest winner of them all.
James Conner — 10 rushes, 18 yards / 6 receptions, 62 yards
I’m sure some will criticize this decision, but for the lack of holes in the running game, Conner showed me a lot in the game vs. the Titans. Conner has never been known as a great pass catcher, but did his job and made plays in the receiving game. To be honest, his stat line, in the receiving category, was very Le’Veon Bell-esque. In other words, I’m impressed with the complete back Conner is becoming, and this bodes well for the future of the running back position in Pittsburgh.
Terrell Edmunds — 4 tackles, 3 solo, 1 pass defense, 1 interception
I still go back to the 2018 NFL Draft when the Steelers took Edmunds and fans around the globe gave the same response, “What?!” No one knew what the team got, but every time I watch him play he impresses me more and more. Sure, he still has aspects of his game which need to improve, just like every other rookie in the NFL, but his progression is much further along than I expected at this juncture of the season. The interception of Marcus Mariota was sweet, and shows the athleticism the team has lacked at safety in years past.
PIT Defense — TEN: 5-15 3rd downs, 210 total yards (168 passing/42 rushing), 2 turnovers, 28:55 TOP, 6 points
After the loss to the Green Bay Packers black-and-gold fans were wondering if the team’s offense would have to score 30-points every game to win in 2018. Against a Titans offense sporting an athletic quarterback and plenty of running potential, the Pittsburgh defense stymied the opponent. After an opening drive which neared midfield, the Steelers’ didn’t allow a point until the 4th quarter, and didn’t let the Titans across midfield till late in the second half. 6 sacks, 2 interceptions and 6 points allowed is a great day at the office. This should help Steelers fans calm down a bit...for at least a week.
Matthew Thomas — 9 tackles, 5 solo
I have to be honest, I’ve read a lot about Thomas here on BTSC from some of our other writers, but hadn’t really noticed him outside of special teams throughout the preseason. I made a concerted effort to watch Thomas vs. Tennessee and I liked what I saw. Thomas, who saw time as the inside linebacker in a 4-3 style defense with Vince Williams moving to the outside, played great and his special teams play is superb. In my opinion, Thomas solidified his spot on the team in Week 3.
3rd Down Offense — 4-for-14 / 4th Down Offense — 0-for-1
After offense outputs of 31 and 34 points, the Steelers mustered just 16, 7 with the starters in the lineup. One aspect of the game which struggled was the 3rd down offense. The Steelers’ managed just 4 out of 14 conversions, and that simply isn’t going to cut it. While many of these occurred with the backups in the game, two came with the starters, and the failed fourth down conversion came with the starters as well. It is early, but if the Steelers’ offense is going to be as lethal as they want, they can’t just be a big hitting unit, but also one which can churn out long, time consuming, drives to ice games away.
Penalties — PIT - 8/68yds / TEN - 9/51yds
The preseason is both good and bad. It is good because the games go by so much faster with less advertisements and commercial breaks. It is bad because the product in the late quarters isn’t as good, and the officials seem be wanting to warm up their flag throwing arms. The 17 penalties in this preseason game came mainly in the second half, and it really killed the momentum of the game. You can’t always change this, but it is a frustration nonetheless.