Even though the end result of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening preseason game is meaningless, head coach Mike Tomlin still came away from the effort expressing his disappointment in the sentiment that they made themselves an easy team to beat.
Outside of individual performances, if there is one team goal that you look for in the preseason, it is a minimization of instances in which you beat yourself, but that would be hard to say about the Steelers’ opening exhibition game of August.
With two turnovers, eight penalties, 3.2 yards per play, and just 26 percent conversion success on third down, it’s not hard to understand why the offense was only able to generate three points all game, although the Vikings only scored 14 for themselves.
Early in the game, wide receiver C.J. Goodwin caught a pass and turned upfield to secure a first down, but he took a big hit and on the way to the ground lost the ball, with the Vikings recovering. He acknowledged after the game that he is still getting used to the size of NFL players.
Later in the game, rookie tight end Jesse James allowed a pass to bounce off his breast plate and into the arms of a defender. It was initially ruled an interception, but was later changed to a reception and a fumble. My initial impression is that it should have stayed an interception until I get a better look at it, but whichever it was is beside the point.
Of course, James also dropped an easy reception from the one-yard line that should have been a sure touchdown. He was also responsible for a holding call that negated a nine-yard run, and got off to a false start on a punt. He had a busy day in the worst manner possible.
Another rookie, undrafted wide receiver Shakim Phillips, was responsible for a pair of penalties of his own. While his offensive pass interference penalty was understandable, he was also flagged for a personal foul working as a jammer on punt return duty.
Working up the right sideline from the Steelers’ perspective, Phillips forced the gunner out of bounds and continued to block him, which is an illegal play, and one that a young player must recognize. The punt was fair caught on the six and moved the line of scrimmage for the next series back to the three.
The special teams also nearly gave up a touchdown on a 62-yard return that will surely have one coach in particular fired up back on the practice field. And let’s not forget Dri Archer’s muffed punt that ended the first half.
But first-year linebacker Shayon Green playing on defense also failed to drop in coverage, which allowed the Vikings tight end to get behind the defense with ease and score on a 34-yard passing play.
Both of the Steelers’ scores allowed came as a result of miscues, one directly on defense and the other on special teams setting up an easy touchdown with the line of scrimmage near the goal line. These and the other miscues and errors previously mentioned are the types of things that Tomlin will be looking to clear up as the preseason marches on.