The Pittsburgh Steelers came back home after a Week 1 victory over the Buffalo Bills last week. Despite offensive struggles, the Steelers fought back from a 10-0 halftime deficit to beat the reigning AFC East Champions 23-16. The Steelers faced off against the 1-0 Las Vegas Raiders, who beat the Baltimore Ravens 33-27 in overtime last week. Despite keeping the game close, the Steelers offense falters late as they fell to the Raiders at home, 26-17.
Steelers Offense Falters in Loss Against Las Vegas
The Tale of Two Schemes
The Raiders were led by quarterback Derek Carr, who threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns against Pittsburgh. Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger improved from last week, totaling 295 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The Steelers stifled Las Vegas’ run game, limiting veteran running back Peyton Barber to just 32 yards on 13 carries. However, Pittsburgh’s run game was also slow; rookie back Najee Harris rushed for just 38 yards, but this is mostly to blame on poor offensive line play. Once again, the Steelers offense falters and falls short after a slow start. They had difficulty putting up points against Buffalo, just as they had difficulty putting up enough points against the Raiders this week.
Impressive Performances from X-Factor Receivers
Harris was also a factor in the passing game; he hauled in all five of his targets for 43 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Receivers Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster also had large roles in Sunday’s offense. Johnson had nine catches for 105 yards, while Smith-Schuster had six catches, 41 yards, and a rushing touchdown off of a 2nd quarter jet sweep. For Vegas, second-year receiver Henry Ruggs III had five catches for 113 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown reception to seal the Raiders’ victory.
The Raiders started the scoring with two early field goals, including a 46-yarder and a 33-yarder in the first half. The pair of field goals put Las Vegas up 6-0. Less than three minutes later, the Steelers’ Smith-Schuster ran in a 3-yard score to make it a 7-6 ballgame. Vegas kicker Daniel Carlson made another field goal, this one from 41 yards out, to give the Raiders a 9-7 halftime lead. Carr then completed a nine-yard pass to fullback Foster Moreau for a touchdown, making the score 16-7. Early in the fourth quarter, Harris scored found the end zone a 25-yard pass. Less than two minutes later, Ruggs had his 61-yard touchdown reception that put Las Vegas up 23-14. The Steelers offense falters at the end of the game, as they failed to put up any more points after Ruggs’ dagger-of-a-catch. Each team would kick another field goal to make the final score 26-17.
Boswell’s Historic FG
Pittsburgh’s 4th quarter field goal was made by kicker Chris Boswell, who put it through the uprights from 56 yards out. That is now the new longest field goal made at Heinz Field.
Steelers’ So-So Defensive Day
T.J. Watt led the Steelers defensive effort by recording one sack and forced an unrecovered fumble on the same play. Watt now has three sacks on the year, including two forced fumbles. Newly-signed linebacker Melvin Ingram also recorded a sack, a tackle for loss, and had three quarterback hits. Ingram’s impressive pass rush has caught the eye of the Steelers; expect him to have an increased role in the Steelers top-tier defense going forward. With lineman Cam Heyward wreaking havoc on the line and Watt and Ingram’s presence, the Steelers front seven did well. However, Pittsburgh’s secondary was absolutely toasted on Sunday. Five Vegas players had 40+ receiving yards, including Ruggs’ impressive 113-yard performance.
Impactful Injuries and What’s Next
The Steelers were without starting cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Devin Bush on Sunday’s game. Also, Pittsburgh lost all-star outside linebacker T.J. Watt to a low-grade groin injury. He is expected to only be gone for a short amount of time. Also, defensive lineman Tyson Alualu suffered an ankle injury that will most likely sideline him for the remainder of the season. Obviously, all of these injuries are bad for the Steelers and their defensive front could continue to be taken advantage of. The Steelers play the Cincinnati Bengals at home next Sunday, 9/26, at 1 pm. Both teams are 1-1 and will be looking for their first division win in the first AFC North divisional game all year.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images