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Steelers start to the 2017 season is better than you may think

You may be disappointed with the Steelers starting the year barely beating the Browns, but the season may be off to a better start than you may think.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Breath. Now exhale.

Your Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-0.

Now, of course, the aftermath of their 21-18 season-opening victory over the Cleveland Browns has been mired in doom and gloom. From the penalties to the lack of continuity on offense in the first half, to how Le’Veon Bell looked out of sync, has fans in an uproar.

Chill out. It’s not as bad as you think.

So many fans were and still are upset over the team’s lack of effort on Sunday. The fact of the matter is that the Steelers looked better than you think. If you took some time to look below the surface of the stinking onion, you might find more than what’s just on the surface.

1. Steelers D gathered 7 sacks and a pick by T.J. Watt.

Watt not only made a great snare of a DeShone Kizer pass in the 3rd quarter to negate a bad personal foul call earlier in the drive, but he added two sacks as well, becoming the first player in team history to do just that. I said weeks ago when the team named him to start over James Harrison that it would benefit the team, and in their first game, it did.

2. Roethlisberger still has it like that.

I’ve said for years (and I’m one of the few in the Burgh) that when you have a guy like Ben Roethlisberger, you let him do what he does best, and that’s throwing the ball downfield. I’m not talking about the 3-yard, dink-and-dunk BS that Tom Brady does. No, Roethlisberger is a once in a lifetime QB. You let him throw the ball down the field, as in 10 yards or more. Look what happened when he did that. The team moved the ball and Roethlisberger is a QB who moves the offense with his arm.

Twice in the first half, the Steelers threw on first down and didn’t complete a pass. In an almost pathetically, predictable manner, the team decided to run the ball on 2nd-and-10 or more yards. One play went for zero. Another went for a gain of 3 on a 2nd-and-15. That’s unacceptable when you have Big Ben as your QB. If you commit to throwing on first down with no success, then either you keep passing until the first-down is made or you punt. Period.

In at least one media account, Roethlisberger voiced his anger toward his coaches about the first-half game plan and rightfully so. He’s a Hall of Fame-caliber QB and he should be unleashed. He completed 67-percent of his passes on Sunday, and the numbers he put up were better than most of the QBs that started the 2017 season!

It’s a shame Ben isn’t mentioned among the truly “elite” QBs in the NFL, like Aaron Rodgers or Brady, but he definitely belongs. That, however, is an article for another day.

In the end, Ben’s ability to get the ball downfield is what led to additional points for Pittsburgh after the game was tied at 7-7.

3. The Steelers never trailed in the game Sunday.

Sorry to burst your bad-start bubble, but this ugly truth remains. It took less than three minutes for the Black-and-gold to take a lead against the inferior opponent they faced.

Now before you say, “Hey JP, the Browns responded with a TD and pushed the Steelers around on both sides of the ball for much of the first half.” I’ll remind you that despite all that, and despite the fact that Bell really wasn’t game-ready for running as effectively as he’s capable, the Steelers never trailed.

Not once on Sunday.

Ever.

I’m saying this now, as I’ve said it on at least one occasion prior to the start of the year. This team is going to play in a Super Bowl; there’s no doubt in my mind. The stars are aligned. The tea leaves have been read. It’s only a matter of playing the games. Call me a “homer” like some did last week when I said the Browns were a cupcake served up to start the season.

One thing about me that you might not know is that I’m not a homer. Far from it. I’ve spent my entire adult life in media, in some form or fashion covering sports. I don’t see things from a fan’s perspective. I’ve always been a journalist first. The who, what, where, when and why is what I’ve always subscribed to. As my career went on, as I become more of an opinion guy, I’ve commented based on the facts and information I’ve gleaned.

No matter how you look at it, people, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-0. And that’s a comforting thought as they prepare to host Minnesota this Sunday.

John Phillips is the author of this article and has covered sports in Pittsburgh professionally since 1993. JP’s stories are also sponsored by Morrie’s Wigs. Morrie’s Wigs don’t come off...even under water and can be found next to the Suite Night Club, Queens, New York.