The Pittsburgh Steelers lost another close game in Week 3 by way of a 24-20 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers on the road, but the entire story surrounding this game wasn’t all doom and gloom.
The Steelers’ defense registered 5 turnovers on the day, Mason Rudolph showed signs of life in the second half and Minkah Fitzpatrick showed off some dazzling playmaking ability via an interception and forced fumble.
But was his overall game really that strong in his Pittsburgh Steelers debut? Fans think so, but the folks at PFF highlighted the Week 3 game saw plenty of missed tackles and blown assignments to give him their nod of approval after Week 3.
Check out what PFF thought of the game, Rudolph’s overall play, T.J. Watt’s quiet game and how James Conner might be one of the biggest disappointments for the Steelers so far in 2019.
The Steelers appeared to try and protect Mason Rudolph by limiting his time in the pocket in the first half. Rudolph threw mostly short passes and screens. When Rudolph did throw the ball down the field in the first half, he was frequently off-target. In the second half, Rudolph delivered his best throws of the day. In the third quarter, Rudolph hit JuJu Smith-Schuster in stride on a crossing route. Rudolph’s ball placement literally hit Smith-Schuster’s facemask and allowed him to outrun Ahkello Witherspoon on his way to a 76-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Rudolph threw a well-placed deep ball down the right sideline to Diontae Johnson who had beat Jason Verett deep for a 39-yard touchdown.
James Conner was largely ineffective on the ground and fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter. Conner was also used on screens but the 49ers’ defense kept him largely in check.
New addition Minkah Fitzpatrick turned in an up-and-down first outing with his new team. Early on, he snagged an interception off a Joe Haden deflection as well as forcing a fumble, but he had too many missed tackles to call it a good day.
TJ Watt had a rather quiet day at the office as a pass-rusher against Mike McGlinchey and co. Overall, Pittsburgh’s pass-rush had a rather solid evening with Laken Tomlinson struggling to pass protect on the inside.
Diontae Johnson didn’t have an incredible stat line, but his day was highlighted by a deep touchdown grab over Jason Verrett. It was a beauty.
The overall commentary on the game was negative, and this is understandable. Starting a season 0-3 is as bad as it gets, but when you look at the logistics for the game in San Francisco you have to see some hope in the Steelers moving forward. Will they make the playoffs? At this point the statistics don’t weigh in their favor, but this team will certainly show some improvement as this young nucleus of players begins to develop.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 on Monday Night Football.