The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got themselves in the win column on their third try, clawing themselves to a 1-1-1 record to start the season. But as has so often been the case lately, it hasn’t been easy. They held a 30-10 lead at halftime, and only narrowly escaped with a 30-27 victory.
It doesn’t matter how you get a win as long as you get it, of course. You get full credit no matter how ugly it may look. But it would sure be nice if they can win convincingly a bit more often, especially when they at any point hold a three-possession lead, as they did in the fourth quarter tonight.
The offense failed to score at all in the second half, and it was fortunate that it didn’t have to because the defense made it close, giving up 17 points. They did spot the offense seven points with a pick six in the first half though.
There was a lot to be concerned with in all three phases once again, as with last week, and that includes penalties. A number of flags against Alejandro Villanueva, several roughing the passer calls, and even an unsportsmanlike conduct on special teams. The team is playing stunningly undisciplined football to the point that it’s a wonder they’ve gotten as far as they have.
Ben Roethlisberger even got the ball with just under six minutes to play and quickly gave it back, giving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a chance to command a game-winning drive after the defense allowed a second fourth-quarter touchdown pass to make it 30-27.
It seemed that Joran Berry had done them a favor by pinning the Buccaneers down inside their own two-yard line, but Darrius Heyward-Bey was flagged for an illegal shift before the snap. He then argued with the official to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. They were nearly in field goal range and got backed up inside their own 40. Berry’s second punt went for a touchback.
Luckily for them, Ryan Fitzpatrick misfired or made bad decisions on all three of his throws on the ensuing drive to induce a three-and-out, and the offense was finally able to close out the game thanks to James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster, a pair of second-year players who have been critical for the offense this year.
One can only hope that finally getting a win will help things start to settle down both inside and outside of the locker room. Antonio Brown said that he’s angry because the team isn’t winning. They won now. He only had 50 yards, but he did score.
It was an ugly win, and one that they came far too close to letting slip away, but it’s good enough to count in the record books. For now, that’s all that matters. We’ll have to see how patterns from it emerge in next week’s game, on a short week against the Baltimore Ravens.