A win is a win is a win. That’s all that matters. And what I’ll tell myself about an ugly 21-18 win by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Cleveland Browns.
Antonio Brown: The rest of the NFL is reminded Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the league. On a day where the offense was stuck in the mud, Brown was the consistent source of the light. 11 targets, 11 catches for 182 yards. That included a critical triple-teamed jump ball on the final drive, a circus catch even by AB’s own lofty standards. On a day where little went right of the offense, Brown stood tall.
T.J. Watt: Not bad for a rook. Two sacks and an INT? Watt showed why he was the Steelers’ first round pick. It wasn’t perfect, there was a penalty mixed in there which negated a sack, but his effort as a pass rusher and his rush IQ were on display. Can’t wait to break down his INT too, a heck of an athletic play.
Jesse James: While I ragged on James during camp, it was still bad, he shut me and a lot of other people up too. The coaching staff too, perhaps, outshining Vance McDonald. James’ first TD was an area he has to win in, contested end zone, and he did so. Don’t think his blocking was that great – no one did well – but as a receiver, he came up clutch.
Javon Hargrave: The whole front seven was able to get pressure. That included Hargrave, walking back center J.C. Tretter and shedding him for his sack. Did well to clog up the middle against the run, too. Stephon Tuitt probably would’ve made the list too if he could’ve played out the whole game.
Anthony Chickillo: Chickillo continues to answer the bell when called upon. No Bud Dupree, no problem. Chick finished the day with a pair of sacks and six tackles. If Dupree has trouble getting back on the field, and even if he doesn’t, the coaching staff needs to think about ways to get Chickillo on the field.
Tyler Matakevich: Should’ve added Dirty Red too. Punt block to get the party started. Huge play on a day where the offense suffered.
Offensive Line: Pass protection wasn’t terrible, though Alejandro Villanueva went Jonathan Scott on a butt-block sack, but the run game couldn’t get anything going. And when they did, they were negated by penalty, like Maurkice Pouncey’s crucial 2nd and 2 hold on the Steelers’ final drive. Lot of room for improvement for a unit with sky high expectations.
Mike Hilton: Hilton supplanted Will Gay as the starter in the slot. By somewhere around halftime, he was back on the bench. It’s hard to get a great read on what happened. Hilton did get beat down the left sideline but DeShone Kizer overthrew the ball.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Smith-Schuster certainly would’ve hoped for a better debut. Two holding calls and was held without a reception despite a surprising amount of playtime. Better days ahead but this one to forget.
Martavis Bryant: Same could be said for Bryant. He did make a pretty snag on a comeback but dropped an early bubble screen and curiously had his feet in concrete on another one. He and Ben missed on a deep ball and I think Roethlisberger was upset with him after the play. Roethlisberger clearly didn’t look great either but did just enough to save him from being on this list.