Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans are probably having a tough time finding any positives to glean from the team’s opening day tie against AFC perennial doormat, the Cleveland Browns. That said, the Browns are different this season, and there were some good things that happened on Sunday.
Here are three positives and three negatives from opening day.
- TJ Watt Looks Like a Superstar in the Making: Watt managed four sacks, eight tackles, and a blocked kick which kept the Browns from walking away with a win. The former Wisconsin star had some trouble with injuries in the preseason but gave every reason to believe that he would improve immensely on a very favorable rookie season that saw him net 54 combined tackles, seven pass deflections, seven sacks, and an interception.
- James Conner Replaces Le’Veon Bell Solidly: Yes, Conner fumbled at a very inopportune time. Further, he does not run like Le’Veon Bell. But his explosive running style led to 135 yards on the ground. Further, he proved more than serviceable as a pass receiver, which is one of the things that sets Bell apart from the crowd, achieving 57 yards through the air. The bottom line is that Conner can play, which allows Pittsburgh a level of power in their current running back predicament. And it was refreshing from a youngster that when asked about his fumble after the game, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he took full responsibility by saying– “Can’t let it happen anymore.”
- JuJu Smith-Schuster Still Has It: Smith-Schuster managed five catches for 119 yards on a day when Antonio Brown didn’t seem himself. And he did this during a game when his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was struggling. The reality is that as a second option he is truly outstanding.
- Ben Roethlisberger and Turnovers: People can talk about every other player on this team, but the reality is that as Roethlisberger goes, so go the Steelers. Considering the rain, the stats look okay- 23-of-41 for 335 yards and one touchdown- until you consider the three interceptions and two fumbles he accrued. A very poor performance that reminds of the negative way that he started last season.
- Joe Haden Injury: It wasn’t all bad when his replacement, Cameron Sutton, came into the ballgame. That said, Haden gives the team a veteran cornerback who can lock down on great receivers and have a chance. Sutton gave up two big pass plays in the fourth quarter when he came in, one of which led to a score. The bottom line is that Haden is very important to this team.
- Chris Boswell Missed a Huge Field Goal: He’s been a good kicker, and the weather was bad. But the bottom line is that when you pay a kicker the kind of money that Boswell is getting, you expect him to deliver in overtime from 42 yards out.