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Pro Football Focus shines light on the Steelers Week 1 win, and the rookies who contributed

PFF dives into the Week 1 games prior to the Steelers turning the page onto Week 2.

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Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers Week 1 win over the New York Giants was certainly noteworthy for a lot of reasons. Whether it was Ben Roethlisberger’s return to the NFL after missing almost all of last season, the injuries sustained along the offensive line or even the rookies who had a hand in the win.

Plenty of headlines came out of the team’ first game, and first win, of the 2020 regular season.

But what trumped all others, as it pertains to the win, according to the folks at Pro Football Focus? The folks at PFF highlight players who played well, and those who didn’t, in their recaps. Here is what they had to say about the Steelers win on Monday Night Football:

STORY OF THE GAME

Many of the overall offensive stats ended up looking close, as the Steelers allowed the Giants to chew clock late and put a score up to flatter the end result a little, but Pittsburgh forced critical turnovers, including the first red-zone interception of Jones’ young NFL career. Conversely, while the Steelers put the ball on the ground with fumbles on multiple occasions, they were able to recover them to prevent further damage. Even an early muffed punt recovered by the Giants at Pittsburgh’s 3-yard line became only a field goal.

Perhaps no stat better shows this 2020 defensive unit’s impression of the Steel Curtain than the Giants’ rushing numbers. They had 24 net rushing yards, and their backs were hit 1.3 yards behind the line of scrimmage on average.

Roethlisberger’s return to action after missing almost all of 2019 started a little slowly, but things started to click for the Steelers once he got into a rhythm; he found an impressive connection with all four of his top wide receivers. Roethlisberger found himself under pressure at times, but it tended to come late in the play. When he was in rhythm, the passing offense looked like it could become something extremely formidable over the season.

Though Jones made a few nice plays, the Giants’ offense was just overmatched by Pittsburgh’s defense and, in particular, the pressure packages that they deployed to keep pace on the scoreboard.

PFF also highlights rookies who performed well, and the Steelers’ top two picks made the list:

ROOKIE WATCH

Steelers rookie receiver Chase Claypool looks set to continue the team’s incredible draft record at the position. He didn’t play many snaps (just 14 of 57 offensive plays), but he made a spectacular sideline catch from a Roethlisberger pass as well as a short catch and a late end-around to seal the victory.

Edge defender Alex Highsmith saw 10 snaps on defense for Pittsburgh as well, notching one defensive stop and chasing after Jones on one play as he escaped from the pocket.

It is now time to turn away from the Giants win, and look ahead to the Denver Broncos game in Week 2 at Heinz Field. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the upcoming game.