In this new series, BTSC will take a look at the possible outcome of each of the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers opponents and analyze not just the potential outcome, but how the game plays out. We will travel week-by-week through the schedule, and we continue Week 2 when the Steelers host the San Francisco 49ers.
Steelers Strike Gold In Home Opener Against 49ers
After succumbing to the defending champion New England Patriots last week in the season opener, the Steelers got exactly what they needed in the form of the San Francisco 49ers and a 44-16 victory.
In front of a sellout crowd, the Steelers won the 11th out of their last twelve home openers at Heinz Field against a team barely recognizable from a season ago.
After Dri Archer took the opening kickoff to their own 45 yard-line, Ben Roethlisberger led the team on a nine-play drive that culminated with a DeAngelo Williams one-yard plunge for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. Williams rushed for 61 yards and that lone touchdown, his second in as many weeks, on the afternoon.
Colin Kaepernick countered with an impressive drive of his own, but it halted when Jarvis Jones sacked the San Francisco quarterback at the Steeler 38 yard-line, knocking the red and gold out of Phil Dawson's field goal range. Jones sack was one of three Steeler sacks registered by the defense on the day. The others belonged to Cam Heyward and Arthur Moats.
Following a 43-yard field goal courtesy of Phil Dawson's toe and a 36 yarder by Garrett Hartley, the second quarter featured Roethlisberger twice hooking up with Antonio Brown for touchdowns. The first was from 33-yards out, that featured a shifty run-after-catch. The duo's second scoring-collaboration was a 12-yard strike with 4:03 remaining in the half.
Kaepernick and the Niners answered back with a five-yard scoring dash as the clock neared zeroes to close the half. The 49er scoring-drive was aided by a pair of 18-yard receptions by Torrey Smith and Anquan Bolden and a questionable helmet-to-helmet penalty called on safety Mike Mitchell.
The Steelers led at the half, 24-10.
The third play of the second half found William Gay jumping a route ahead of former Ravens WR Torrey Smith for an interception. Gay, who returned three interceptions for scores last season, took the pick-six 27-yards to glory. The score was 31-10.
Hartley knocked through his second field goal of the game in the third quarter and another in the fourth. The former Saints and Browns kicker, brought in after incumbent Shaun Suisham's ACL tear in the Hall of Fame Game, triumphed with three field goals and no misses in his Heinz Field debut.
Roethlisberger, 22 of 29 for 337 yards, found Martavis Bryant in the fourth quarter with a 51-yard bomb in the final quarter to extend the score to 44-10. It was the veteran quarterback's fourth touchdown of the game and his sixth, so far, of the early season.
Heath Miller, the eleventh-year tight end, said of Roethlisberger's performance, "Ben's our leader. This is what we've come to expect from him and he keeps on giving us games like this."
Jim Tomsula's club added a score late in the game when Reggie Bush took a screen pass from Kaepernick 25-yards into the end zone. Linebacker Vince Williams tackled running back Carlos Hyde short of the end zone, as the ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed.
The final score read Pittsburgh 44, San Francisco 16.
In his post-game presser, Mike Tomlin relayed his thoughts on the game by saying, "Obviously, after a game like last week, we wanted to prove that we could finish and close what we started. We did that today. But we still have a lot that we want to accomplish this season and we need to continue to build on what we accomplished today."
The Steelers evened their record at 1-1, while the 49ers dropped to 0-2.
Next week, Pittsburgh continues their battle with NFC West opponents, as they travel to St. Louis for a date with the 1-1 Rams.
Be sure to check back tomorrow, and every day leading up to the start of the 2015 regular season, for the latest edition of 16 picks in 16 days.
Week 1: Loss to the New England Patriots