Pittsburgh Steelers Week 1 Review: Improvement Needed to Compete

Finally.

The time is here.

We get to recap some Steelers football, after their first game of the 2020 season. Let’s begin.

The Steelers had to knock off some rust in the first quarter. The defensive line had no rust whatsoever though, and was spot on throughout the whole night. They held stud running back Saquon Barkley to just 6 yards gained on 15 carries. Once all of the rust was knocked off, it was business as usual for the team from the Steel City.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during a regular season game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, NJ. (Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger ended up throwing three touchdowns on the night, with two of them going to Juju Smith-Schuster who looks like he’s having fun playing football again.

Keep in mind, the criticisms that follow are tempered by the fact that there was no preseason, and a shortened off-season.

The number one criticism that I take away from this Monday Night match-up, is the fact that the special teams were not in top form.

Boswell missed his first extra point of the year, along with kicking the ball out of bounds on the kickoff, giving the Giants the ball at the 40-yard-line. But, he rebounded pretty nicely, with two field goals. Diontae Johnson muffed a punt (on his first contact with the ball in 2020), which set up for a field goal for the Giants. After all of this, I feel that it’s necessary to point some blame at the third phase unit for a sloppy game.

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton (28) and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) during a regular season game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, NJ. (Ben Solomon / Pittsburgh Steelers)
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Steelers

On defense, the secondary deserves some blame as well. Even with the defensive line doing a solid job, it seemed like the Giants offense knew they could easily pick up first downs by passing the ball.

(Editor’s note: Well they certainly couldn’t run the ball.)

It seemed like every time the Giants had a third down, Jones would end up passing for a 10-yard completion. If it wasn’t for the questionable (in my opinion) pass interference call on Joe Haden, there would have been no touchdown on the next play for the Giants.

Coming into the 2020 season, there’s been so much talk about the defense being elite. Well, the defensive line and linebackers look elite, but when you have two interceptions, and neither are from your secondary, you start to look at it like a weakness. The fact that they gave up over 250 yards passing and made Daniel Jones look like an elite quarterback is insane to me, especially after all the hype over the secondary’s performance in 2019.

Finally, let’s talk ball security. We already touched on the muffed punt at the beginning of the game that led to points for the Giants.

We shouldn’t forget the fumble that Benny Snell had, though. Fortunately, he was bailed out by Juju Smith-Schuster, who was thankfully in the right place at the right time.

All in all, it was the first game of a weird season. So, I don’t want to be too critical of the team because in the end, they took home that 26-16 victory.

Coming from a Steelers fan, knocking off some rust in your first game is necessary. I’m okay with how the game went, although I had a lot of emotions throughout the entire thing. I wanted this article to cover the few things they need to improve on for Week Two if they want the same result.

If they work on the secondary, ball security, and special teams, the rest of the team already seems like they are clicking and this will be a team that nobody wants to play against come playoff time.

John Ankeny

@johnankenyjr

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