Winners and losers from the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-17 loss against the Cleveland Browns Thursday night.
George Pickens – For what could wind up being catch of the year. Pittsburgh finally gave Pickens a chance to make plays and he responded with an absurd, horizontal, one-handed snag deep down the right sideline. One of the wildest you’ll ever see. Pickens’ production today outperformed what he had done the first two weeks and it was good to see him make a much-needed splash play.
Will say Pickens didn’t end the game on a high note from there, a chance for a TD that he went up for with one hand and a false start on an onside kick but that play is one that’ll go on the highlight reel. Unfortunately, there weren’t many other highlights tonight.
Miles Killebrew/Miles Boykin – Want to shout out the Miles-special teamers for what they did tonight. Killebrew had a partial punt block that gave Pittsburgh great field position, the Steelers aggressively went after the Browns’ punter tonight, while Boykin had a strong kick coverage tackle. Boykin could end up making a Pro Bowl for what he’s doing this year.
James Daniels – The whole offensive line held their own tonight, though faded a bit more in the second half, but Daniels stuck out positively. Daniels got a good push in the run game. Overall, this group still has to sustain and finish but I thought they did relatively well tonight. I haven’t charged this front five for a sack in the first three games. That’s…unexpected.
Devin Bush – It’s probably a bit relative to expectations and the run defense overall was poor but Bush seemed to play well tonight with a big stick on the goal line against Kareem Hunt and staying clean in the run game while doing well as an underneath zone dropper. Finished the game with 11 tackles (six solo). It’s been a decent year for him. Better than what it’s been.
Alex Highsmith – Pittsburgh’s pass rush is still far too invisible but Highsmith had a pretty-looking stat sheet tonight. Finished the day with 2 QB hits, 2 TFL, and 1.5 sacks. He’s been about the only guy near the QB these last two games.
Terrell Edmunds – Edmunds gave up two touchdown on the night, one to Amari Cooper and another to David Njoku. Both slants with Edmunds late to read and close. He can tackle but he’s still not instinctive enough and always a step late to reading the route or playing he ball in off-coverage. And Cleveland picked on him in critical situations tonight.
Ahkello Witherspoon – Tough night for Witherspoon, who was cooked by Amari Cooper throughout the game. Cooper saved him by stepping out of bounds on a would-be long catch and run but still, Witherspoon struggled to man up on him. He missed a tackle on a gap run by Nick Chubb, leading to a 36-yard pickup, and left the game late in the third quarter with some sort of leg injury.
Third Down Offense – A third down offense that’s only been decent for about a half this season, the first half of Week 2, they were 1/6 mid-way through the fourth quarter. The best thing Pittsburgh did on third down was avoid them in the first place but they couldn’t convert in those moments. Ended the day 1/9, making them 2/13 since the second half of the Pats’ game.
End Of Half Offense – They’re tough spots but in each of the last two weeks, the Steelers had the makings of a two-minute drive. Around midfield with roughly 20 seconds left. Both games, Pittsburgh couldn’t even line up for a field goal. Last week, Mitch Trubisky took a bad sack that ended the half. This week, he missed a wide open Diontae Johnson along the right sideline. Chance to steal points late and that matters a lot in close games.
Diontae Johnson – Johnson made a couple of nice snags along the sideline but his third down drop on a deep ball down the left sideline, a beautiful throw by Mitch Trubisky, went right through his hands. Johnson ended the day with two drops. Receivers say they want to make plays but can’t finish some crucial opportunities.
Run Defense – Steelers’ front was gassed by the fourth quarter of this game but still, they got run all over. After holding Cleveland to under 100 yards in both meetings last year, despite their otherwise horrendous run defense. No such luck tonight with the Browns wearing the Steelers down, finishing the day with over 150 yards on the ground. Missed tackles, inability to get off blocks, allowing the cutback, the Browns were the more dominant and physical team tonight.