The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 of regular season action. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a bad performance.
Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the first game of the preseason...
Stat Line: 14 carries, 40 yards / 14 catches, 102 yards receiving, 19 targets
The way the game ended for Najee Harris might have left fans with a bad taste in their mouths, but Harris is the real deal. Some bogus calls negated roughly 60 yards on the ground, and it was nice to see the Steelers finally utilize Harris in the passing game. He is the team’s best offensive player right now, and utilizing him the way they have is their best course of action. As long as they don’t run the wheels off him before the bye week.
Stat Line: 3 receptions, 22 yards, 5 targets, 1 TD
Don’t look now, but Freiermuth is now the Steelers No. 1 tight end. The Steelers are determined to use Freiermuth more, and he hasn’t disappointed. Freiermuth is just starting a very promising career, and the former Penn State tight end hit pay dirt for the first time as a professional. A good start to Freiermuth’s young career.
Stat Line: 5 tackles, 2 solo, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 pass defense
Edmunds has been Mr. Reliable for the Steelers’ defense since he was drafted. He benefited from an interception which was being in the right place at the right time. Nonetheless, on a day when the defense looked anything but dynamic, Edmunds was a bright spot.
Stat Line: 38/58, 318 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 4 sacks, 70.9 rating
I can’t speak for everyone, but it is becoming increasingly clear what the main, not the only, problem within the Steelers’ offense is Roethlisberger. His awareness, pocket presence and overall ability is certainly not what it used to be. Father Time catches up with all of us, and Roethlisberger might be seeing his career come to an end. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still capable of winning some games. The question is if the Steelers’ offense is capable of giving Roethlisberger enough support to allow him to still make the plays he is capable of making.
Stat Line: 1-for-2 on FGs
Being on this list is just for one game, not the season. And in a game where the offense is struggling to even get into field goal range, you can’t miss a makeable kick. Boswell’s missed field goal was the first sign the game was over, and him missing has been abnormal this season.
Stat Line: 4 sacks, 7 QB Hits
Some of the sacks, at least half, were not on the offensive line. They were Roethlisberger just holding onto the football too long and not willing to throw the ball away. Nonetheless, for the second straight game there have been way too many pass rushers getting hits on Roethlisberger. Want to see someone other than Roethlisberger under center? You might get your wish because I doubt if Roethlisberger can play a full season behind the front the way it is currently constructed.
3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 9-for-19
For the third straight game, the Steelers’ lack of offense on third downs has been on the Losers list. All I want to see is 50% or higher, and they failed in this venture once again. Mike Tomlin always talks about situational football, and this is an area, among many, the Steelers need to improve upon.
Stat Line: 10 accepted penalties for 73 yards
As stated earlier when talking about Najee Harris, there some really big plays which were called back. Whether the penalties, like the roughing the passer call and the two offensive pass interference calls, were justified is a different topic. The Steelers aren’t good enough to give any advantage to their opponent. They need to stop shooting themselves in the foot, and this can be put on the shoulders of the coach, in my opinion.
Sack Streak Ending/Pass Rush
Stat Line: 0 Sacks AND 0 QB Hits of Joe Burrow
The Steelers’ 75 regular season game sack streak ended Sunday, but that wasn’t the most disappointing stat of the game. The most disappointing was the Steelers had zero hits on Joe Burrow. Four quarters of play, and no one hit the quarterback on a play that wasn’t penalized. Think about that.
Stat Line: Must have been watching a different game
About those penalties. If the NFL is going to call roughing the passer on Melvin Ingram hitting Burrow in the chest and helping him to the ground, you can’t play defense anymore. If they are going to call Chase Claypool for offensive pass interference on a rub route, why aren’t they calling it every week on every crossing route across the NFL? Anyone think that holding call on Kevin Doston was legit? I didn’t. These penalties were back-breaking, and were tough to swallow. There were way too many penalties in this game, and some of them left fans scratching their heads...for both teams.
If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!