We’re less than an hour away from getting underway now, the Steelers among the last teams to play for opening week as they pay a visit to the New England Patriots.
There’s nothing shocking on the inactive front, though a couple of things worth noting. The Steelers chose to dress six wide receivers, including rookie Diontae Johnson, instead opting to sit tight end Zach Gentry, so there are only two tight ends active. The team has done this a couple times before with Xavier Grimble. Additionally, Zach Banner is dressing over Chukwuma Okorafor as the swing tackle.
For the Patriots, Kyle Van Noy is an inactive because his wife is in labor. Demaryius Thomas is also sitting as he continues to recover from injury. The tight end LaCosse is dressing despite missing the past several weeks due to injury, one of two tight ends dressing.
The Steelers kicked off first, with Anthony Chickillo and Jordan Dangerfield making the tackle. Stephon Tuitt made the tackle for a run stop on first down. Mark Barron chased down the back after about seven yards around the right end to set up third and four. They went back to the same play for the first.
Following two more running plays, the second for a loss with Terrell Edmunds on the tackle, Tom Brady threw for the first time, having time to throw on third and 10 but his pass skidding short of Julian Edelman down the field. Ryan Switzer fielded the punt out of bounds at around the 10.
The offense starts with a three-yard rush by James Conner to the 15. Ben Roethlisberger completed to JuJu Smith-Schuster for the first down. With pressure in his face, he completed to Conner crossing the field for eight yards. Conner yet another touch for the short conversion and the Steelers start with a pair of first downs.
Conner again up the middle for two or three. Both teams starting off with a lot of touches for the backs. Jaylen Samuels checked in for a carry, stopped for two to set up a third and six. Johnny Holton was on the field on third and six, Roethlisberger going to him down the field but incomplete. Jordan Berry punted for a fair catch at the 18.
Brady looked for Edelman again to start the second drive, a wide pass incomplete, but it looked initially like it might have been a catch before the ball squirted out. Bush was caught behind in coverage trailing Rex Burkhead for a nice chunk of about 15, picked by the tight end.
At the 35, Bush blitzed, Brady overthrowing the bell, Edmunds almost in position to pick the ball off. Ryan Izzo was flagged for OPI on the pick play on Steven Nelson over the middle. Now first and 20, James White got the carry and a head of steam for about eight, Bush on the tackle in chase. After another chunk run set up third and five, Brady out of four wide completed to Dorsett off a legal pick.
A trick play, Brady to Edelman to the right, who throws back across the field to White, gathering blockers for a big 38-yard gain. Now at the Steelers’ 20, Josh Gordon was wide open over the middle, Joe Haden missing a tackle inside the 10 for the touchdown as the Steelers trail early. After a first and 20, the defense looked bad on that drive.
The Steelers used a two-back set with Conner blocking for Samuels for a one-yard gain. Still both on the field, Samuels now in the slot. Roethlisberger fakes a pitch to Conner and pitches to Samuels out of the slot for a short gain, but Alejandro Villanueva is flagged for a hold. Now second and 18, it’s a short pass over the middle for a couple yards to Donte Moncrief. On third and 20 after a false start, Roethlisberger threw over the middle to Diontae Johnson, who reeled in a high ball without breaking stride, but for fewer than 10 yards. Berry punts again from the 24, fielded at the 19 but returned out near the 40.
Jakobi Meyers fielded a downfield pass taking a big his down to the 40. White added a short pass for about six. Sony Michel converted on third and a foot. A nine-yarder to Gordon set up another one-yard conversion for Michel. Brady completes to Edelman for about nine. At the 11, Michel converted yet again on short-yardage to set up first and goal.
A short pass to the right to White put the ball at the seven. Brady threw too far ahead of Burkhead for an incompletion. Now third down, he was pressured and threw out of bounds as the Patriots settle for a field goal, 10-0.
Starting from the 21 after a Switzer kick return, Roethlisberger started the following drive in a five-receiver set, Switzer making the reception on first down for eight. He went back to Switzer, who was tackled after a yard. Now with a back on third and one, it’s Conner getting the carry and is stopped just short, Tomlin deciding to punt on fourth and inches from the 31. Holton got down the field but couldn’t induce a fair catch or get close enough to make the tackle, so the Patriots got a decent return as well.
From the 35, Michel was stopped after three yards up the middle. Brady threw incomplete on second down. On third and seven, Brady threw early seeing T.J. Watt beat his right tackle, off-line as the defense forces a three-and-out. Switzer back to return the punt, fair caught past the 30.
Quickly back into a third and one, the Patriots completely buried Conner on a wide pitch for a loss of four yards, the Steelers going three-and-out a second time in a row. Jamie Collins blew it up. Berry on to punt yet again in the middle of the second. Fair caught at the 20.
Kameron Kelly came in to undercut a run on first down for a short gain of four. It was the first-year safety again on the tackle to set up third and three. Brady completed to White with Barron in coverage for the conversion.
A quick completion to Edelman to midfield followed the first down. Again on play action, it was Edelman for the second play in a row for a first down and more. Inside the 30, Brady hit Dorsett over the top for another touchdown, going up 17-0, beating two in coverage. Hilton out of the slot and Edmunds the safety in the area.
Buying time, Roethlisberger looked for Moncrief, but the pass was broken up. Five wide, it was a deep shot this time to Moncrief, again incomplete. Already third and 10, he finally goes back to Smith-Schuster, catching a first-down grab in front of Stephon Gilmore.
Switzer was stuffed on a short pass for just a yard. On second and nine, Roethlisberger overthrew James Washington down the right sideline. On third and nine, a quick hitter to Johnson saw him wriggle his way for about eight at the two-minute warning to set up fourth and short, down three possessions. Three wide on fourth and one, Roethlisberger called a timeout. They came out five wide after that, Roethlisberger hitting to Moncrief, who dropped the ball after Patrick Chung got in there.
Brady took over from his 47, starting with a screen to Burkhead for 11. A short pass and then an incompletion down the field set up third and five. Brady to White picked up about eight, now inside the 30 and a first down.
A low pass with Edmunds in coverage was completed for four yards to Dorsett. Bush in coverage on Burkhead for an incompletion over the middle. Now third and six, Brady looked for White again, incomplete, with Edmunds in the area. Watt got a hit on Brady after the throw. A field goal from 41 yards out made it 20-0 with 17 seconds in the half.
The Steelers ended the half with a short carry by Conner to head into the locker room with their tails between their legs.