Winners and losers from the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week Two.
Steelers Pass Rush: Pittsburgh’s front four made their name known for the second straight week. TJ Watt and Bud Dupree notched their first sacks of the season. Dupree had a strip/sack fumble that knocked Drew Lock out of the game after Watt got the initial pressure. Watt wore out RT Elijah Wilkinson. But it wasn’t just those guys either. Mike Hilton had a sack for the second straight week while Tyson Alualu clubbed and swam over rookie center Lloyd Cushenberry for another.
In total, the Steelers finished with seven sacks.
Mike Hilton: Hilton was our X Factor of the game. And he stepped up today. More of the same from him, excellent timing on blitzes, tough, physical run defense, the Broncos didn’t have an answer for him fitting in the run game or getting pressure on the QB.
Chase Claypool: Claypool’s first touchdown was a big one. An 84 yard sprint down the left sideline, making it look effortless against a fellow rookie corner. Fourth longest TD by a Steelers’ rookie receiver in team history. Big play potential the team drafted him for.
He also finished the day with three tackles, including a great stop on the opening kickoff, showing his well-rounded ability on display at Notre Dame.
Kevin Dotson: Didn’t hear much from Dotson today. That’s usually a good thing for a guard making his first career start. Overall, the line communicated much better than they did last week. No easy feat with a new right guard and right tackle this week.
Diontae Johnson: Johnson had an ugly fumble on the first play of the game but that blemish won’t keep him off this list. He showed his ability to win in the open field, rarely brought down by the first player, and had an 81 yard punt return touchdown wiped out by a Cam Sutton penalty. He showed better hands throughout the game and made a nice snag behind his body on a 4th quarter touchdown to thwart Denver from creping back into the game. If he can just be a little more consistent, he’ll be a stud.
Steelers TEs: Eric Ebron had a couple catches in the second half. But the group hasn’t been as productive as expected two weeks into the year. He and Vance McDonald had drops today while Ebron was too focused on trying to draw PI on a failed 4th down conversion. Neither of these guys have been assets in the run game either.
Screen Game: Gotta be the worst screen team in football. The anti-Chiefs. OC Randy Fichtner needs to come up with a new approach, or bail altogether, but the execution has been poor here too. Steelers don’t sell the pass well and defenses too quickly snuff out these plays.
Benny Snell: Snell was the clear backup behind James Conner today. When he saw the ball, he fumbled it away. That’s twice in two weeks. Not going to earn feature back duties that way. Winners list last week. Losers this week.
Penalties: Not every penalty was as fair as others but the Steelers were far too sloppy today. Steelers beating Steelers. Ten penalties, several that extended Broncos’ drives, and one of the big reasons why Denver hung around all game. Virtually everyone in the secondary was called for something. Fitzpatrick, Edmunds, Haden. Problem across the board.
On offense, penalties put Roethlisberger and company off schedule, 2nd and 15+, stalling out too many potential drives.