The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to win their 2014 regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday and after one quick pass back through the game replay, here is just a small sampling of some winners and losers for you to discuss.
Fell free to add your own in the comments below that you think I missed.
Markus Wheaton – Wheaton really took a big step forward in this game and he made several big catches. His two catches on the final drive helped secure the victory and because of that he gets top billing. On top of his receptions, I like what Wheaton did in the blocking department as well.
Antonio Brown – While Brown was shut out in the second half, his play in the first half provided the Steelers a huge lead. Brown showed in the game that he has a huge catch radius and that Browns cornerback Joe Haden needs help covering him. I can forgive his karate kick on the punter. Like Wheaton, Brown showed some improvement in the run blocking department.
Justin Brown – I was worried about Justin coming into this game, but I thought he played well. He is a tremendous blocker and that showed up on both of the touchdown runs. It would have been a near-prefect game for the second-year wide receiver had he held onto the third down pass that hit him in the hands following the fake punt.
William Gay – Gay was the only player on the Steelers defense that showed up in the second half. He had two huge plays on the Browns final offensive possession that resulted in them going three and out. He ended the game with two pass breakups, one tackle on defense and two tackles on special teams.
Brad Wing – Wing had some key punts in the game and two of them were inside the Browns 20-yard-line. in total, three of his punts required fair catches.
Cam Thomas – Thomas, who played left defensive end and nose tackle during the game, was noticeably blown off of the ball several times. I could probably get away with listing all five defensive linemen here, but Thomas’ play was the worst of the bunch. His Illegal Use of Hands penalty on a failed third down pass also kept a Browns drive alive that resulted in a touchdown just three plays later.
Marcus Gilbert – Two of the four sacks allowed should get credited to Gilbert. He gets on his heels too easy at times and is easily driven back when that happens.
Ryan Shazier – Shazier looked lost at times on defense. Also, when he shot gaps a few times, he chose poorly and took himself out of the play as a result. He needs to stay on his feet better and must learn to get off blocks better in addition.
Ike Taylor – Taylor not only had trouble staying with a few of the Browns wide receivers, he was also guilty of two penalties in the game. Throw in the dropped pass that hit him right in the hands in the end zone and it made for a rough day for the veteran.
Dri Archer – The rookie made a very bad decision when he decided to bring out a kickoff that was seven yards deep into the end zone early in the fourth quarter. He cost the offense 10 yards by doing so.