The title of this article may be a little bit confusing but I am not reacting to the entirety of week 1, just the Steelers game and I will most likely continue this as much as I can throughout the season. So let's hop right in!
I went into this game with 0 expectations and came out filled with excitement and optimism for the season. I had us finishing third in the division at 9-8 and missing the playoffs but after a win against a top team in the AFC I think we've got a pretty decent shot to compete with the Browns, Ravens, Chiefs and obviously the Bills. The offense was pretty rough in the first half but stepped it up and moved the ball well in the second to really jump start the comeback. Overall there weren't any standout performances on the offensive side of the ball but they played well and I think Canada is going to start opening up the playbook and really stretch the field more in the coming weeks. I would like to touch on the offensive line to say that they did not play good. There is no sugar coating it, as a unit they were not good and while they were definetly better by games end I am not getting my hopes up too much. Now the defense tells a completely different story, they dominated throughout the game and were undoubtedly the reason that we won. As a unit Pittsburgh held one of the most prolific offenses in all of football last year to just 16 points. Josh Allen was an MVP candidate last year and averaged 284 yard a game and had a passer rating of 107.2 on the year, in this game he had 270 yards and a 79.7 passer rating. Devin Singletary did average 6.5 yards per carry but that was largely due to a few big runs in the second half and other than that we shut down the run game. Allen was facing pressure the entire game and we didn't even have Tuitt. I thought that with the losses of Vince Williams and Bud Dupree and Steven Nelson we might take a step back but that was not what I witnessed on Sunday.
Players of the Game
Offense: Diontae Johnson
5 Catches, 36 Yards, 1 Touchdown
As you can tell by Diontae's stat line we did not have any significant performances on offense but Johnson was the recipient of the single offensive touchdown and it was a heck of catch. It somewhat reminded me of Juju's toe tap against the Raiders a couple years ago but luckily we didn't blow this game. Aside from the touchdown Johnson consistently moved the chains and had no drops, a great sign that all the work he did to improve his hands has paid off and maybe we'll see a true breakout year.
Defense: TJ Watt
3 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble, 5 QB Hits
Is it even a surprise to see TJ here? 4 days after walking into Mr. Rooney's office and signing his contract TJ Watt has a massive game. Watt was in Allen's face the entire game and Buffalo seemed to be running to wherever he wasn't when running the ball. If this is the standard for TJ this season then we are in for a great one. Hopefully he can take home his DPOY this year and prove the doubters wrong. Expect to see him on here a lot this year.
Special Teams: Miles Killebrew and Ulysees Gilbert
Blocked Punt (Killebrew), Touchdown (Gilbert)
This is unusual for a couple of reasons, the main one being that I have two players here. Now it makes sense because it all happened on the same play, Miles blocked it and Ulysees scooped it up and took it to the house but it's a very rare occasion and I wouldn't expect it very often. The second reason being that it isn't just a kicker or a punter, I will likely have Chris Boswell or Pressley Harvin in this spot on most weeks unless of course we have some sort of splash play like this week so let's take advantage of it while we can. After multiple years of battling injuries it's nice to see Gilbert making his mark on this team and it's also nice to see a new addition like Killebrew making plays.
Other Notable Players
4 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovery
The wrecking ball known as Cam Heyward was back to being a dominant force after a slight down year last year. He only managed to rack up 1 tackle for loss (the sack) but he was in the backfield the entire game and it was beautiful to watch him shove his way through the Bills offensive line. If Cam and TJ can play like this all year and Tuitt goes back to what he was doing last year this defense is going to be extremely scary.
5 Tackles, 2 TFL, 2 Pass Deflections
Cam Sutton hasn't got the respect he deserves for the last two years but with Steven Nelson out of the picture this is Sutton's year to shine and so far he has made the most of the opportunity. I've been projecting a breakout year for Sutton for awhile now and I'm feeling pretty good about that so far. If he can continue this level of play I'll feel a lot better about our secondary once Haden is gone.
Norwood didn't have the flashiest game but he seemed to always be around the ball in the first half and he didn't make any noticeable mistakes. He also played 80% of the defensive snaps as a rookie and got the start at slot corner so even though he didn't have the best stat line in the world I'm a lot more confident in our secondary heading into next week, largely because of Norwood.
16 Rushes, 45 Yards, 2.8 YPC
Another guy that didn't have an incredible stat line but played an important role, Najee Harris looked pretty good in his debut even if it wasn't anything special. He averaged less than 3 yards per carry which is troubling but I'm not super worried considering the quality of play by our o-line. He broke some tackles and fought hard for extra yards and looks like the back we've all been expecting him to be. I'm hoping to see some improvement next game behind a slightly more experienced line and against a Raiders defense that gave up 189 rushing yards to Baltimore just last night.