The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the Green Bay Packers 27-17 last Sunday and are now 1-3. Future Hall of Fame QB, Ben Roethlisberger finished the game 26 of 40, throwing for 232 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception with a QBR of 78.3. Najee Harris toted the ball 15 times for 62 yards and a leap into the endzone for his first rushing touchdown on the day. Diontae Johnson led the Steelers’ offense in receiving catching 9 receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers are back at home against the Denver Broncos tomorrow afternoon to try to turn this season around!
Last week in review
The three things I noted to keep an eye on last week were:
1) TJ’s Back!
My prediction was right! The Steelers got back into the sack column with 3 total sacks and 7 QB hits. Star edge rusher, TJ Watt registered 2 of those sacks and 2 of those QB hits last week against the Packers. The outside linebacker is tied third in the league with sacks and that’s with missing a game! Even with the loss, the Packers felt the impact of Watt on the defensive side of the ball.
2) Create a Turnover, Splash Play on Defense!
The Steelers’ defense collected one turnover against a stingy Packers’ offense. No splash plays on defense or special teams. The field goal block unit was able to block a kick that would be returned for a touchdown by none other than FS Minkah Fitzpatrick, but it was ultimately called back by an offsides penalty. In my personal opinion, that was a bogus call and the timing of the play by CB Joe Haden was so excellent that it looked offsides by the naked eye, but further investigation proved it was the wrong call by the officials. As soon as the ball moves, Haden moves to block the kick! This would have swung the game entirely, but to quote HC Mike Tomlin “We won’t get into hypotheticals.” Get it right, refs!
Finally seen multiple replays. The one below's the most conclusive that Joe Haden was NOT offside. He and Minkah Fitzpatrick both had great jumps, which can be visually misleading, but watch the snap of the ball:pic.twitter.com/mUBnhNhpYR
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) October 3, 2021
3) If you get extra offensive opportunities, take advantage of them!
The Steelers’ defense collected just one turnover against the Packers last Sunday. The following offensive possession ended in a punt. I noted last week that it was important for the offense to capitalize on extra opportunities, but that wasn’t the case. Aaron Jones fumbled the ball and it was recovered with pretty decent field position for the Steelers at their own 35, but the Steelers’ offense got one first down and then punted the ball back to the Packers without really any progression on offense. Th Steelers’ offense gained a first down, but a false start by WR Johnson on a crucial 4th down, forced them into a punt.
Let’s take a look at 3 things we should watch for against the Broncos:
1) Build on the improvements of the offensive line play!
One of the biggest question marks of the 2021 off-season came to play this past Sunday. The offensive line played a lot better than previous weeks, according to PFF.com, the Steelers and QB Roethlisberger was hurried on only 7% of drop backs this past Sunday. He was sacked twice, but seemed to get rid of the ball a lot earlier than need be. Harris was able to gain 62 yards on 15 carries and the Steelers’ offense gained a total of 62 yards on 16 carries, including a carry by Benny Snell for 0 yards. Harris tallied 4.1 yards per carry on Sunday. As a whole, the offensive line opened more holes for the running game and created a pocket for the QB better than they had all season. I’d like to see the unit build on this performance against the Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
2) Get to the QB!
Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Broncos offensive line gave up 5 sacks. This is the week for the Steelers’ pass rush to wreak havoc! The three headed monster of Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Melvin Ingram III will all be available this week and should apply pressure heavily! A key to the game for the defense to be successful against this Broncos’ offense is to get to the QB. Teddy Bridgewater will be active and can make plays outside the pocket, as he is great at extending plays, the Steelers’ defense must wrap up and finish sacks when they get their hands on the QB!
3) Fix the issues, Big Ben!
Big Ben, in a press conference earlier this week, discussed how he has noticed his throwing mechanics being a big issue in the offensive struggles early this season. He has missed several throws just by a hair, including a couple touchdown passes. What is it, Big Ben? Is father time catching up to you or is this just mechanical issues you can fix? Hopefully, on Sunday afternoon we will see an answer to this question! It’s Week 5 in 2021 and you’re a 39-year-old QB, we shouldn’t be discussing so many mechanical issues!