The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to take on the Buffalo Bills for the season opener in Buffalo in one hour from now. Welcome to the 2021 season, and thank you for joining us for the discussion thread on Steelers Depot. Be sure to refresh the page for interesting tweets and updates throughout the game and join the discussion in the comment section.
The Steelers will start a handful of rookies in a break from tradition as Najee Harris, Kendrick Green, Dan Moore Jr., Pressley Harvin and maybe even Pat Freiermuth will get the start. A big break from the years of rookies taking two or three season to crack the starting lineup.
Steelers Inactive Players
QB Dwayne Haskins
G Rashaad Coward
ILB Robert Spillane
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
DE Isaiahh Loudermilk
Bills Inactive Players
RB Zack Moss
T Tommy Doyle
DE Boogie Basham
DT Star Lotulelei
LB Andre Smith
The inactive list is out and it looks like Ahkello Witherspoon will require at least another week until he provides any snaps to the team and understandably so given the quick turnaround. It also does not appear that Karl Joseph was elevated. Dwayne Haskins is inactive, which is where he will likely sit most of the season barring injury.
Interestingly enough, Robert Spillane is inactive with rookie Buddy Johnson getting a helmet. This was unexpected and is a huge blow for Robert Spillane who was initially counted on to be the team’s starter prior to the Joe Schobert trade.
Further information came out that suggests Spillane suffered a calf injury in warmups which is why he is a late scratch.
It would appear people are optimistic on Najee Harris getting his first career touchdown in his debut.
That was pretty cool to sync up the national anthem among all stadiums for the 9/11 memorial to kick off the season. Football is back!
The Steelers won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Defense will get the first shot at the 2021 season.
Special teams with a horrible opening play allowing a 75 yard run back near the red zone.
The defense is holding strong so far with an impressive tackle by Cam Sutton out in the flat 1 on 1.
Cameron Heyward on third down deflected the pass and forces the field goal attempt. The field goal is good. 3-0 Bills.
Honestly, not the worst outcome given the run back. This team could not afford a 7-0 hole that early.
Ray-Ray McCloud was back for the kick return, but it went into the endzone for a touchback.
Matt Canada’s pre snap motion on full display the first play. Najee Harris ultimately got the ball up the middle for a short gain.
Diontae Johnson for about 14 on 2nd down. He is currently at 100% catch rate, hopefully he can keep up that energy.
Najee Harris turned nothing into something, showing patience around the left end for a gain of about 4. The first 3rd down opportunity for this offense. Only 4 yards to go.
Ben overthrew Diontae Johnson on 3rd down leading to the punt. Pressley Harvin III’s first punt was pretty solid and was called for a fair catch inside the Bills’ 20.
The punt was almost blocked however, which is something to keep an eye on throughout the game.
The Bills with a run for 8 yards on first down. Melvin Ingram was very close to tackling that for no gain. On 2nd, the Bills picked up a first down.
Melvin Ingram nearly had the sack there on Josh Allen, but the offensive linemen mugged him. Robbed of his first sack as a Steelers, but the holding call creates 1st and 20.
Minkah Fitzpatrick just flew in and obliterated the receiver for a pickup of 6. Tre Norwood and Devin Bush in on the tackle in the flat. 3rd and 10 for the Bills. The Steelers struggled in 3rd and long last year. The struggles continue (at least for now).
Watt was being held around the waist on that one.
Off the hands of Cole Beasley on 1st and Minkah Fitzpatrick nearly got the interception on the deflection. On the next play, an explosive play for Emmanuel Sanders.
Another flag on this 1st down play following the explosive pass. The Bills are shooting themselves in the foot and the Steelers defense must capitalize.
Sanders had the step on Tre Norwood deep for an easy touchdown, but Josh Allen overthrew him. A drop for the Bills on 3rd for what would have been an easy first down. Another penalty, but declined to force the punt. Ray-Ray McCloud back deep. The punt went into the end zone, touchback.
The Bills offensive line is getting worked and being forced to hold nearly every play. If the Steelers win this game, that will be the reason why.
Ben Roethlisberger to Diontae Johnson on first down for a gain of 6. Ben to Claypool on the quick out, but it was too far out ahead and fell incomplete. 3rd and 4.
Ben Roethlisberger was strip sacked on 3rd, but the Steelers recovered. Chase Claypool called for unsportsmanlike on the play. The Steelers will punt from deep in their own area.
Chase Claypool probably shouldn’t have been the one called for that, but it is what it is.
The punt coverage unit did well with a Benny Snell tackle. Another solid punt by Pressley Harvin III.
The front 7 is holding up their end of the deal causing another incompletion due to pressure. Melvin Ingram looks like an early favorite for the top offseason addition to the team.
Josh Allen faked the drop back and ran up the middle. The Bills with the flea-flicker, but Cam Sutton under cut the route and deflected the pass. Great defensive discipline by the Steelers’ secondary.
Zach Gentry appears to be in at tight end for this series.
Back at their own 13 to start the series, the Steelers offense must get something going. Juju Smith-Schuster peeled out towards the left sideline and Ben hit him for a pickup of 6.
Najee Harris up the middle for a pickup of 2 setting up 3rd and short. Juju Smith-Schuster up for the first down catch. Diontae Johnson down injured on the play and it doesn’t look great. They are examining his right knee.
This would be a huge blow for the offense as he provides a unique skill set.
Diontae Johnson was sandwiched on the play by defenders, but walked off with a little help. Hopefully it was just knee to knee contact and a contusion of some sort.
James Washington entered the game and went for 9 yards to setup 2nd and short.
END OF QUARTER 1 – BILLS 3 – STEELERS 0.
Najee Harris swallowed up for a big loss to setup 3rd and 5. Ben Roethlisberger lobbed one up to Chase Claypool and the defender probably should have been called for pass interference. He wasn’t. The Steelers punt.
Alex Highsmith with the tackle on first down, but the next play Emmanuel Sanders for the 1st down reception. Josh Allen ran up the middle and Cam Heyward stripped the ball. He nearly recovered too, but Josh Allen was able to wrap it up.
Another deep shot attempt by Josh Allen, but Terrell Edmunds made it too difficult to secure. On 3rd down they went into the left flat, but it fell incomplete and are forced to punt.
Diontae Johnson back out on the field for this drive. Must have just been a dead leg. Good news for the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger rolled out to the right, but the pass fell incomplete to Diontae Johnson with several defenders in the area.
Kevin Dotson with the false start. 3rd and 12 now from the 4 yard line. Ben Roethlisberger to Juju Smith-Schuster, deflected and nearly picked off. Pressley Harvin with a bit of a shanked punt and the Bills start on the 35 yard line in scoring position.
3rd and 13 for the Bills after a TJ Watt quarterback hit to force the incompletion.
TJ Watt with the strip sack in pursuit as Allen rolled out of pressure. Cam Heyward recovers. This was exactly what was needed for the Steelers. The offense must convert the touchdown with this gift.
Ben to Juju on first down for an 11 yard pickup. A nice physical play by Juju.
Ben Roethlisberger was being sacked and dumped the ball, called for a grounding penalty. Najee Harris for nothing on 2nd. Ben tried to dump the ball to Najee Harris on 3rd and 20 to try and get enough yardage for field goal range, but Najee didn’t get his head around quick enough.
The Steelers punt and Harvin III does a line drive with very little hang time. It took a good bounce and the Bills will take over from their own 9.
This Steelers offense is struggling mightily.
Alex Highsmith held on first down after a conversion on 3rd. 1st and 20 for the Bills from their own 11. Cole Beasley for about 10 with Devin Bush and Terrell Edmunds in coverage.
Cameron Sutton tackled the receiver on the next play to set up 3rd and 5. Too many men on the field called on the Steelers. The deep reception will stand. They somehow got a deep reception while the Steelers had an extra defender.
Arthur Maulet stopped Josh Allen on a rush to limit him to a pickup of 3. On 2nd, Alex Highsmith was nearly there for a sack, but Allen got the ball off. Steelers called for offsides on Highsmith. A little too quick on his get off.
Pittsburgh is doing a great job shutting down the Josh Allen rush for the most part. On 2nd down, Cole Beasley with the catch inside the 10 yard line. 3rd and 1 for the Bills.
The Bills went for the rugby scrum approach on that 3rd and short and succeeded. 1st and goal.
Excellent coverage by Pittsburgh and Josh Allen throws it away on 1st. On 2nd, he faked the pass and rushed for about 3 yards. Tyson Alualu with the stop.
The Steelers call the timeout on 3rd down. It would be huge to force the field goal here. Cameron Sutton in coverage on Gabriel Davis in the back of the endzone. The coverage was fine, but Sutton didn’t know the ball was coming. Touchdown. 10-0 Bills.
The Steelers have 66 total yards on offense. That is going to have to change. The Steelers get the ball at the beginning of the second half.
The Steelers take the knee and send the game into halftime.
HALFTIME 10 – 0 BILLS
Join us for the second half here.