The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an opening day victory over the division rival Cleveland Browns, but after the way the second half transpired, it’s clear to say that everything is not rosy. In the first half, the offense put up 27 points, while the defense held the Browns to three.
But the second half was another matter, with the defense relinquishing the 24-point lead before the offense finally got on the scoreboard in the second half with a game-winning field goal as time expired. Here are a few things to look for tonight against the Baltimore Ravens on the offensive side of the ball.
For the second straight game, free agent signing Lance Moore will not participate, still hampered by a groin injury. On the other hand, rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant is listed as probable to play after missing the opener.
Don’t expect anything to change from the opener, though. Second-year receiver Justin Brown showed that he is comfortable working with Ben Roethlisberger, and vice versa. Roethlisberger went to him in a key late-game situation on third down. Even though he had the ball knocked out before he secured it, it shows that the quarterback has faith in the 6’3” receiver.
On the other hand, we shouldn’t assume that Bryant will even be on the active roster. The Steelers are already trying to finagle Brown onto the special teams units as a jammer, at which he was not very successful, and Bryant is not likely to fare any better.
His best shot at getting a helmet is perhaps if the Steelers want to use him as a kick returner, because rookie Dri Archer is out with an ankle injury. However, that is a role that Brown can fill, and LeGarrette Blount is listed as the second-team kick returner anyway.
With Archer out, however, expect to see fullback Will Johnson get involved in the running game, possibly getting a couple of carries. It would be surprising if he doesn’t see more than the two snaps that he had in the opener.
On the offensive line, center Maurkice Pouncey had a nice first game back, while tackle Marcus Gilbert struggled significantly pass protecting along the right side. Both he and Kelvin Beachum will be tested by Terrell Suggs, whom the Ravens like to move around.
The interior offensive line appears equipped to handle the Ravens’ defensive line, however, as they worked well in the running game against the Browns. David DeCastro had some issues pulling to his left, which is an area of his game that still needs improvement, but don’t expect the Steelers to move away from that.
After this week’s performance, and based on his past success against the Ravens, there’s no reason to think the Steelers won’t ride Le’Veon Bell in Baltimore.
He had two of his best games as a rookie against the Ravens, rushing for 93 yards on 19 carries in game one while going for 73 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown in the second. He also had seven receptions for 63 yards in the second game, in addition to a second touchdown taken away when his helmet came off prior to the ball breaking the goal line.
As far as the starting wide receivers go, Antonio Brown could be in for another big game if Lardarius Webb is out. Markus Wheaton showed in the opener that he has an impressive skill set that includes strong hands and adjusting to the ball. He should continue to benefit from Brown’s stature until defenses learn to respect him.