The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the New England Patriots in the 2022 home opener and couldn’t come away with a win as they lost 17-14. There was a lot more bad than good in a frustrating conference loss. As we do every week, let’s take a look at the winners and losers for the team on Sunday afternoon and analyze the play of several players and the approach of an unpopular coach.
1.) Minkah Fitzpatrick, Safety
Fitzpatrick is not shying away of leading the defense with T.J. Watt on IR due to a pectoral injury. He came up with a big interception in the first half and was all over the field. The team will always have a chance to win as long as Fitzpatrick is healthy and continues to make plays during Watt’s absence. He already should be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.
2.) Diontae Johnson, Wide Receiver
Johnson was the bright spot of the offense on Sunday. He had 6 catches for 57 yards and proved to be the most reliable wide receiver regardless of who is playing quarterback. He had an incredible catch to convert a two-point conversion after the team’s first touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter. Johnson is not just solidifying himself as the clear-cut #1 in Pittsburgh, but one of the best pass catchers in all of football. Najee Harris also had a solid game receiving out of the backfield, but averaged just 3.3 yards per rush.
3.) Myles Jack, Linebacker
Jack led the team with 13 tackles tackles on Sunday afternoon and once again backed up the team’s decision to sign him in the offseason. Devin Bush looked like he took a step back after an encouraging game last weekend, but Jack picked up the slack. He was flying around the field and is making a significant impact on the defensive side of the ball. This was a great signing.
4.) Pressley Harvin III, Punter
Harvin began his 2022 season on a positive note. Many were critical of his play a season ago and rightfully so as he was in the bottom half of the league in most punting categories. He was a winner last week and he is again after Week 2. He punted four times, averaging 51.8 yards per punt and one went for a whopping 69 yards. Harvin III seems to be settling in nicely in his second NFL season.
1.) Matt Canada, Offensive Coordinator
Canada will remain #1 on this list every week if the offense continues to sputter. There is a clear refusal from a play calling perspective to attack the middle of the field and there seems to be no trust in Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. No one is falling for anything the Steelers are calling offensively and Canada will continue to be a loser, regardless of how the game ends, if his unit is consistently this bad. The Steelers only have two total offensive touchdowns in the first two weeks of the regular season.
2.) Gunner Olszewski, Wide Receiver
In a critical moment after a big stop from the defense in the third quarter, Olszewski muffed a punt which led to a Patriots touchdown. The former All-Pro also fumbled once in the preseason. His stint in Pittsburgh may be short if errors like these continue to happen, even though he did have a solid 18-yard run afterwards. The offense wasn’t great again on Sunday and Olszewski can’t give the ball away when the defense needs a breather. The muffed punt was a main contributor to the loss.
3.) Pass Rush
Not having Watt out there led to what many expected. The Steelers did not have a sack after taking down Joe Burrow seven times a week ago. The defense had just three QB hits and Mac Jones was kept up the majority of the game. The star edge rusher won’t be back out there for at least another month and something needs to change here, and quickly, as the team has a quick turnaround this week.
The run defense also needs to be called out. The defensive unit looked winded and allowed the Patriots to chew the clock in New England’s final drive of the game. The Steelers are now 0-5 in games that Watt did not play in. New England’s running backs had 24 carries for 118 yards.
4.) Mitch Trubisky, Quarterback
Trubisky isn’t just a loser because Steelers fans were chanting “Kenny. Kenny. Kenny.” during Sunday’s game, but also because his offensive coordinator and head coach don’t seem to trust him whatsoever. The offense bounced back after a rough three quarters or so and while play calling is partially to blame, Trubisky needs to be held accountable. He was 21/33 for 168 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It’s probably too early to turn to Kenny Pickett, but Trubisky isn’t doing himself any favors.
Who are your winners and losers from the Steelers first regular season game of 2022? Let us know in the comments below!