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Instant analysis: Steelers stars shine in chaotic Monday night win

The Steelers snuck away with a must-win game in Week 2.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

I... I’m not quite sure what we all just watched.

Despite their best efforts, the Steelers came out of Week 2 with a .500 record of 1-1 after defeating the Cleveland Browns in one of the dumbest football games in recent memory.

On the first play from scrimmage, Deshaun Watson continued to prove all his doubters correct by throwing a wild interception that was batted around and caught by Alex Highsmith, who returned it for a touchdown. What we all failed to realize was that the opening-play interception was only the seventh or eighth craziest thing to happen in this game.

The Steelers began their first offensive drive from their own nine because Gunner Olszewski seemingly forgot where he was and fielded a kickoff that surely would have gone out of bounds. Don’t worry, though. Olszewski’s awful play would peak through again later on with a bad fumble. Kenny Pickett would follow that with an ugly interception thrown to Grant Delpit, to which the Browns got nothing out of because of a missed field goal.

The next three drives for the Steelers were reminiscent of last week against the 49ers: three-and-out, the Olszewski fumble, punt. The Steelers had two turnovers in their first seven plays, and Pickett looked bad, which would be a theme for the evening.

Pickett went 15-of-30 for 222 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Pickett wasn’t good, and he should be thanking George Pickens for making his numbers look even remotely competent. If you take away Pickens’ long catch and run, Pickett’s numbers are 14-of-29 for 151 yards. And let’s give Pickens his flowers because he was tremendous. He had four catches for 127 yards and that 71 yard touchdown that gave the Steelers the lead in the second quarter.

The offense wouldn’t find the end zone the rest of the game, though. The rest of their offensive drives went as follows: punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, kneel down to win the game. That’s simply not good enough. Matt Canada shouldn’t be employed another day, but no one should get their hopes up that any sort of action will be taken. Nor should we expect Najee Harris to be benched in favor of Jaylen Warren, even though it is clear that Warren is the better back. They play behind the same offensive line. The only difference is Warren gets positive yards. Harris had consecutive runs late in the game that make his already bad box score look better than he performed. Take away those two runs, he posted eight carries for five yards compared to 20 yards on six carries for Warren.

Now, let’s talk about the defense, and we’ll start by highlighting some of the good things that took place. Larry Ogunjobi had his best game as a Steeler. He had a sack, two hits on Watson, and was getting consistent pressure all night- game ball kind of performance from No. 99.

Trent Jordan Watt is now the all-time sack leader in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only did he register a sack, he picked up a fumble forced by Highsmith and returned it for what would end up being the game-winning touchdown- a great evening for the best defensive player in football.

Alex Highsmith had his best game as a pro with the aforementioned interception and forced fumble. He also registered two additional quarterback hits.

Joey Porter Jr. didn’t see the field a lot, but he made an impact when he was on the field. He broke up a pass on third down in the first quarter, and locked down Donovan Peoples-Jones to seal the game on an incompletion on fourth down.

Other names included Markus Golden getting his first sack as a Steeler, DeMarvin Leal getting his first sack on the season. Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb were also everywhere.

Now, there was a healthy amount of bad on the defense, as well. For starters, it’s time to bench Levi Wallace- he was a complete liability lined up against Amari Cooper. Montravius Adams was largely ineffective all game in the trenches, as was the entirety of the Steelers run defense. For the second straight week, they gave up a run of 65+ yards. That fell mostly on Levi Wallace for not keeping contain, but the Browns totaled 198 yards rushing on 5.7 yards per carry- that’s unacceptable, especially when they’ll see Josh Jacobs next week.

A win is a win, and the Steelers will certainly take it, but there is much that needs to be cleaned up. Kenny Pickett can’t have a third consecutive bad game, or there will be serious questions asked on if he is the guy, and rightfully so. The Steelers haven’t beaten the Raiders on the road since 1995, and by no means is this game going to be a stroll down the Vegas strip, especially if we see a lot of what we saw Monday night.