The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Saturday night when they hosted the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 of the NFL preseason. The Steelers were winners in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good performance.
With it being the preseason, many of the players who are being criticized are not even going to be employed by the Steelers organization come September, but the judgement process must go on. 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: 4/7, 63 yards, 9.0 average, 1 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks, 126.8 Rating
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Trubisky in his first time with the Steelers. To be honest, I thought he was probably going to struggle a bit; however, I was happy to be wrong. Trubisky looked cool and calm, and did something rarely done in the last three seasons — scored on the opening drive. A good start for Mitch in Pittsburgh.
Stat Line: 9/15, 93 yards, 6.2 average, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack for 10 yards, 100.1 Rating
Rudolph’s start was the complete opposite of Trubisky’s. Trubisky’s looked smooth and calculated, Rudolph’s first snap was a strip sack which was fortunately recovered by the Steelers. In the end, Rudolph hit George Pickens for a beautiful touchdown just two plays later. Rudolph played well enough to keep himself in the mix.
Stat Line: 13/15, 95 yards, 6.3 average, 2 TD, 0 INT, 2 sacks for 17 yards, 132.6 Rating
Playing the entire second half, Pickett didn’t look rattled or excited at all. Pickett was as advertised, and the fan base is going to want to see more of Pickett in the coming weeks. Will he ever get a shot with the back ups? The starters? Pickett’s play on Saturday night certainly is good to have on the resume.
Stat Line: 3 rec, 43 yards, 14.3 average, 1 TD, 26 long, 5 targets
If the hype train for Pickens was picking up steam heading into Week 1 of the preseason, it is officially off the rails. Pickens caught the first pass of the game, and topped it off with the crazy touchdown catch where he got his feet in like a seasoned veteran. The former Georgia Bulldog has a different look to him, one which hasn’t been seen in Pittsburgh, as a rookie, in a long time.
Backup Running Backs
Anthony McFarland: 7 carries, 56 yards, 8.0 average, 24 long
Jaylen Warren: 6 carries, 34 yards, 5.7 average, 13 long, 1 fumble
Master Teague III: 6 carries, 31 yards, 5.2 average, 9 long
With Najee Harris and Benny Snell not playing in the game, these backup running backs put their best foot forward. McFarland, Warren and Teague put together an impressive outing in every aspect. While Warren did put the football on the turf, the Steelers running the ball as well as they did throughout the entire game was a pleasure to watch.
Stat Line: 1 rush, 38 yards / 1 reception, 2 yards / 1 punt return, 38 yards
One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. That is a sentence fans have heard from Mike Tomlin for a long time and it certainly rings true with Steven Sims. With Anthony Miller (shoulder) and Calvin Austin III (foot) out of the lineup Saturday, Sims did everything he could to make a case for himself on making the 53-man roster. A big run and a big return had people turning their heads. An opportunity he may not have gotten had the other two players been ready to play.
Stat Line: 3 rec, 47 yards, 15.7 average, 1 TD, 25 long, 4 targets
Gunner O wasn’t used much as a receiver in his time with the New England Patriots, but he certainly looked like he is capable of catching the football. Olszewski led the team in receiving yards, and had the touchdown on the opening drive. A nice addition to a developing offense.
3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 7-for-13
If you are new to this article, I always want to see the offense be over .500 in this category. Mission accomplished Saturday night.
Stat Line: 2-for-15 yards
On top of 3rd down efficiency, the Steelers were not highly penalized, and that is a good thing when you are talking about third and fourth string players grinding for a quarter, or more, in a Week 1 preseason game.
Stat Line: SEA 26 carries, 159 yards, 6.1 average, 1 TD, 18 long
The team was short-handed, not having Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt, Larry Ogunjobi or Montravius Adams, but you expect the backups, especially those who have experience, to be better. Mike Tomlin said it best when asked about missing Heyward and Watt, “the standard is the standard”. On Saturday night, the standard wasn’t good enough when it came to stopping the run.
Stat Line: Better get healthy quick
When you look at the players who showed up and showed out, you have to think some players might be feeling the pressure to get back on the field before the next preseason game. Players like Benny Snell Jr., Marcus Allen and even Kevin Dotson have to be itching to get back out there after other players put their best foot forward on the biggest stage thus far this season.
For more on the Winners and Losers from Saturday night’s game, check out the most recent Let’s Ride podcast: