Throughout the offseason, not one member of the Steelers organization found themselves in trouble with the law or breaking the NFL substance of abuse policy/performance enhancing drugs policy. Thinking back just a few short years ago, an offseason like that would have been a dream come true.
If we learned anything about the Steelers Week 1 victory over the New York Giants, it’s that this team is willing to do whatever it takes to win. No one was clamoring for more targets, no one was throwing a fit on the sideline, and no one publicly complained about the job the coaching staff asked them to do. Combine this with a laundry list of hustle plays and the Steelers have found the recipe for winning in the NFL.
Just take newest Steelers tight-end, Eric Ebron. Ebron has been a high-volume target in years past, but only saw two targets thrown his way, one of which was sailed over his head. But Ebron didn't complain, in fact he was celebrating his teammates success like JuJu Smith-Schuster when he scored in the first half. He also bought into the blocking game which is something he’s really never been asked to do. And he was successful.
1-0‼️‼️ GREAT TEAM WIN! (I was in them trenches) relax haha.— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) September 15, 2020
Speaking of JuJu Smith-Schuster, the fourth-year wide out scored a pair of touchdowns in the game, but his biggest play may have been when Benny Snell Jr. fumbled the ball in the second half. The Giants had just turned the ball over at the conclusion of a 19-play drive, and the Steelers defense was obviously exhausted. The second play of the Steelers subsequent drive, Snell broke a carry 21 yards but fumbled the ball at the end of the run. The ball was surrounded by blue jerseys but, Smith-Schuster put himself in a perfect position to recover the ball in case catastrophe happened. He didn't have to trail the play, but he did and the Steelers marched down the field and added another three points to its lead.
JuJu on the fumble recovery: "literally in that pile, all I could hear was my teammates say, 'watch the ball, watch the ball.'— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 15, 2020
"My left knee was about to bend, and my finger was twisting." ... said the ball was under his right rib and he was keeping pressure to hold possession
Another receiver that made a great effort play was third-year guy, James Washington. Washington caught a Ben Roethlisberger pass with less than 10 seconds on the clock and fought his way into the end zone. Washington fought off two Giants defenders to get across the plain before half-time and the Steelers would take the lead into the half. A lead in which they never surrendered.
And finally the Steelers defense as a whole. Mike Tomlin noted that the game plan was to stop Saquon Barkley at all cost. Considering he only rushed for 6 yards on 15 carries, I would say they did a good job. But in order to stop Barkley the Steelers stacked the box and forced their defensive backs into one-on-one matchups for the majority of the game. On paper it would appear that the Steelers secondary didn't have a great game, but when you take into consideration how difficult it is to win one-on-one throughout an entire game, I would say they did a great job. No one in the secondary complained, they just gutted it out and won the game.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that his defense compromised the secondary in order to maintain their commitment to containing Saquon Barkley.— Jackson Thompson (@Jacksonbht) September 15, 2020
The combination of these players doing whatever it takes to win and apparently having one of the most ego-free locker rooms in the NFL is a recipe for success. Mix in the level of talent on the Steelers roster and fans are looking at a Super Bowl contending team.