The officiating crew monitoring Pittsburgh's 24-16 win over Cincinnati on Sunday failed to overturn a late Tyler Boyd fumble, despite the fact that the rookie receiver's knee appeared to be firmly on the Heinz Field turf well before the ball escaped his grasp. Boyd's fumble halted Cincinnati's potential game-tying drive with less than two minutes remaining in Sunday's contest and allowed the Steelers to run out the clock on a win.
For once, Bengals fans have a legitimate reason to be upset.
Of course, the Bengals needed a touchdown and successful two-point conversion to even tie the game. They also needed to stop Pittsburgh from scoring again in regulation in order to force overtime. A tall order, indeed, but certainly not out of the question.
Regardless, the Steelers are 2-0. Let's dig deeper...
Stock up: Tight ends
Even if Ladarius Green does get healthy this season, he might not have a spot waiting for him when he returns. Jesse James is a legitimate all-around tight end, and the fact that Pittsburgh left him on the field for almost every offensive snap speaks volumes to his abilities. His blocking abilities are still a work in progress (especially his pass blocking), but the second-year tight end has established himself as one of Ben Roethlisberger's favorite targets. Xavier Grimble scored his first NFL touchdown on Sunday, and tight end/fullback David Johnson made some key drive-extending blocks. As long as Pittsburgh's two or three tight end formations are successful, the team will continue to utilize these schemes.
Stock up: DeAngelo Williams
He's already on a million "Week 2 winners/players of the game" lists, so this is kinda obvious, but I just wanted to give my take on a 33-year-old running back who is, without a shred of hyperbole, the MVP of the league through two weeks. In addition to posting workhorse numbers (NFL-leading 58 carries for 237 yards), Williams has repeatedly bailed Roethlisberger out of would-be sacks by hanging out near the pocket and catching screen passes. Pittsburgh's current identity is no mystery to anyone (notice that Pacman Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick spent most of their afternoons shadowing Antonio Brown), so the fact that Williams allows the Steelers to add another dimension to their prolific offense makes him an invaluable member of the team.
Stock up: Sportsmanship!
No egregious personal fouls (except that Javon Hargrave horse collar tackle) for either team? Players offering fallen opponents a hand? It's almost as if these players...gasp...respect each other.
Or, more likely, the NFL threatened these guys' wallets.
After that botched call at the end, however, the game at Cincinnati in Week 15 should be interesting.
No change: Todd Haley's stones
Third and four near midfield in a tightly contested game against a hated rival in a torrential rainstorm? You better believe Boss Todd is going to dial up a bomb.
This statistic is not made up: Roethlisberger threw four passes that traveled at least 30 air yards to Sammie Coates on Sunday. Coates caught two of these passes for 97 yards (he is averaging an almost unbelievable 38.3 yards per reception this season), while one was intercepted and other almost intercepted.
At least Haley maintained balance. Roethlisberger attempted 37 passes, while Williams compiled 32 rushes. Andy Dalton, meanwhile, attempted 54 passes.
Stock down: Superstars
Kirkpatrick and Jones held Antonio Brown to just four catches and 39 yards, while Steelers CB Ross Cockrell held A.J. Green to two catches and 38 yards. Now, the weather certainly impacted both teams' passing attacks, but don't let that distract you from the fantastic jobs that these secondaries did against two of the NFL's top five receivers.
Stock up: Overall
The Steelers are 2-0 for the first time since 2010. In Week 3, the Steelers will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that is another year or two away from fielding a truly competitive roster. With Bell set to return in Week 4, Pittsburgh's arrow is definitely pointing up.