The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Thursday when they played the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 of regular season action. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or 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 latest game...
Stat Line: 3 catches, 39 yards, 13.0 average, 36 long, 7 targets, 1 amazing catch
The Steelers fan base had been waiting for Pickens’ “WOW” moment in the regular season, and he provided that on a national stage in Week 3. A tremendous catch which is one of the finest you’ll see in the NFL. Outside of that catch, Pickens was rather mundane, but that one catch puts him on the winners list.
1st Half Offense
Stat Line: 14 points scored
The first half offense was everything fans had wanted with Matt Canada at the helm. Running the football, sustaining drives, moving Trubisky out of the pocket. It was fun to watch, and it was productive. If this team could put together four quarters like this they would be tough to beat. But that didn’t happen Thursday night...more on that later.
Stat Line: 1 sack surrendered / 104 rushing yards, 4.7 average
The whipping boys for the fan base, the offensive line, continue to improve as the year progresses. Again, before the running game was seemingly abandoned the team was moving bodies and they continued to protect the quarterback. It was their best performance of the season, and while it wasn’t perfect it was a big step in the right direction.
Stat Line: 5 tackles, 4 solo, 1 pass defense
Before Witherspoon left the game with a hamstring injury he was constantly in chase mode vs. Amari Cooper and giving up big plays. Throw in some hesitant, putting it nicely, tackle attempts and Witherspoon certainly left a lot on the field Thursday night.
Stat Line: 2 tackles, 1 solo
Edmunds had been having a great season following a great camp/preseason, but his coverage skills certainly are still his Achilles heal. The Browns isolated Edmunds on David Njoku early and often, and it paid off. Edmunds wasn’t as solid as usual in run support, and at a tie when they need everyone at their best, Edmunds reverted back to the player fans love to hate.
Defense w/o T.J. Watt
Stat Line: Winless without Watt
T.J. Watt is the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, but the defense can’t be that reliant on one player, can they? It certainly seems like it considering the lack of negative plays has become a two week trend. Will they be able to finally win a game without Watt in the lineup fully healthy? They better hope so, or else this season could spiral out of control.
2nd Half Offense
Stat Line: 3 points
As much as I loved the first half offense, the second half offense was the polar opposite. The Steelers couldn’t run the ball due to three-and-outs, and their lack of positive plays on first and second downs allowed the Browns’ pass rush to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. It was bad all around, from coordinator to quarterback.
Stat Line: 171 yards, 4.5 average
For all those people who thought the Steelers run defense was fixed, well, think again. For the second straight week the defense was gouged by the run when it mattered the most. Whenever the Steelers absolutely needed a stop, it was the run defense who was faltering. Again, this can’t be life without Watt, can it?
3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 1-for-9
I honestly don’t know what else needs to be said...
Time of Possession
Stat Line: PIT: 23:51 / CLE: 36:09
A growing theme for the season is the Steelers’ defense being gassed due being on the field far too long. See the previous loser for reasons why this stat line is so skewed.
Pat Freiermuth Targets
Stat Line: 0 until the final offensive drive
I understand keeping a tight end in to block, but when you have a player who can stretch the field and be an absolute mismatch nightmare for linebackers and/or safeties, I don’t understand why it took until the waning minutes of the game before even seeing a target.
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!