By Jared Villani
Pittsburgh’s defense came out swinging in this matchup against the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers as a pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to running back Matt Breida was tipped right into the hands of T.J. Watt.
The early 49ers turnover set the Steelers offense up for a Chris Boswell field goal. Pittsburgh would get off to a 3-0 lead.
The newest addition of the Steelers defense, Minkah Fitzpatrick, was next up for a big play as he intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo for a second time on a ball intended for wide receiver Dante Pettis.
Fitzpatrick’s interception allowed the Steelers defense to add to their point total as Boswell knocked in a 26-yard chip shot for a 6-0 lead over the 49ers.
Despite the utter lack of any kind of offensive flow from either team in this matchup to this point, Fitzpatrick made himself known on defense once more. This time, the Steelers defensive playmaker knocked the ball out of San Francisco’s running back Raheem Mostert‘s hands, as he coughed up the ball which lead to yet another turnover for the 49ers.
Despite further lackluster play from both offenses, the 49ers were finally able to put some numbers on the board with a 24-yard Robbie Gould field goal.
As the second half began, the Steelers offense was looking to showcase Mason Rudolph‘s arm with some attempts deep down field, but the young quarterback threw the ball right into the hands of K’Qwuan Williams.
San Francisco did everything they could to make Pittsburgh pay after their turnover and found themselves in the redzone for just the second time. Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. ultimately finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. San Francisco takes the lead, 10-6 over the Steelers.
On Pittsburgh’s next offensive drive, Rudolph got comfortable and dialed in on a strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 77-yard touchdown. Nobody was more excited than Rudolph as he celebrated with the big guys up front after the long Steelers score. Pittsburgh leads 13 to 10 after Boswell’s successful extra point conversion.
THERE GOES @TeamJuJu
— NFL (@NFL) September 22, 2019
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Garoppolo and the 49ers offense wasted no time and marched down field with ease to finish right where they left off on their last drive. Wilson Jr. got his second touchdown of the day and put San Francisco back on top, 17 to 13.
The Steelers opened up their next drive on offense with a strong run by James Conner, followed by a shot deep down field to James Washington, and luckily 49ers cornerback Jason Verrett got called for a blatant pass interference call to give them an easy first down. Followed by the penalty, Rudolph found Diontae Johnson for 39-yard touchdown to regain the lead. Steelers get back on top 20 to 17 over San Francisco.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 22, 2019
The following sequence was far from productive for the Steelers after recovering yet another fumble, James Conner coughed the ball up to give it right back to San Francisco after T.J. Watt’s previous recovery in the redzone.
Garoppolo took advantage and found Pettis for a 49ers touchdown. Now San Francisco leads with just a little over a minute and a half to go, 24 to 20. Unfortunately, Conner’s fumble and a late Mark Barron penalty were the difference maker late in the game, despite Rudolph’s second half surge and the defense’s early dominance.
Steelers Stat Leaders
Mason Rudolph 14-27 174 Yards 2 Passing Touchdowns 1 Interception
James Conner 13 Carries for 45 Yards 1 Fumble
JuJu Smith-Schuster 3 Receptions 81 Yards 1 Touchdown
Devin Bush 11 Tackles
T.J. Watt 2 Tackles 2 Passes Defended 2 QB Hits 1 Interception 1 Fumble Recovery