An offensive line is based off its collective value, not its individual one. It’s more of a unit than any other group. But Trai Turner shouted one man in particular for a job well done on a day where the Steelers’ front five played as well as they have this year. After missing one game due to a concussion, RT Chukwuma Okorafor returned to help slow down future Hall of Famer Von Miller.
“It’s a 11 on 11 game, but man, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Chuks had a phenomenal week of practice,” Turner told reporters via the team’s YouTube channel. “Had a phenomenal game. He came in and he strapped up and he was ready to go the whole game.”
Miller entered the game as Denver’s top front seven threat, leading the team with 4.5 sacks. He was largely quiet Sunday, finishing the game with just two tackles. No sacks, no QB hits, no tackles for loss. Miller did have a moment or two, stringing out one run that got stopped for a loss and he had a pressure on a T/E stunt on Roethlisberger’s touchdown to Claypool. But overall, Miller was a non-factor in this one.
Pittsburgh’s pass protection in general was as good as its been. Roethlisberger was sacked just once and hit only twice Sunday afternoon. The sack was Roethlisberger’s fault and a product of good coverage by the Broncos’ secondary, something Roethlisberger admitted to post-game.
It helps the Steelers only had to throw the ball 25 times, the fewest passes Roethlisberger’s attempted in a game since mid-way through last season. When he did drop back, the line gave him plenty of time to work downfield. Roethlisberger’s two completions of 20+ air yards both resulted in touchdowns. A 50-yarder to Diontae Johnson on the opening drive and the 18-yarder to Claypool (that went a couple yards into the end zone, putting it past the 20 air-yard mark).
The Steelers’ offensive line has slowly been taking steps in the right direction. It finally came together yesterday.
“I find myself repeating myself,” Turner went on to say. “But it’s just building upon things. It’s a stepping stone.”
Sunday’s performance was more of a leap than a step. And a long time coming for an offense relying on the O-line to be the catalyst. Their next step is an encore performance Sunday night against Seattle.