After an off-season full of so many questions and uncertainties, the Pittsburgh Steelers began the 2020 season with a Week 1 win in New York against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. From the good, the bad, and the ugly, there was a lot to learn from the Monday night contest. After evaluating the rollercoaster of highs and lows, here are three takeaways that stood out from the Steelers Week 1 win against the Giants.
1. Ben Roethlisberger looked solid
A healthy No. 7 is a sight Steelers fans have been waiting for. If there had been no other positive takeaway from the Steelers Week 1 game against the Giants then a solid return for Roethlisberger would have been enough for Steelers fans quite honestly.
Pittsburgh’s first two drives both stalled out early, but after a little bit of time and going through the motions again, it seemed like Ben Roethlisberger settled in nicely.
After two of the first three drives resulted in punts, Roethlisberger led two drives that ended in touchdown passes — one to JuJu Smith-Schuster, and another to James Washington with just seven seconds left in the half.
During the final drive of the first half, Roethlisberger went 5/7 for 65 yards and one touchdown, running the two-minute drill to perfection. Roethlisberger also had an 11-yard scramble to get the Steelers inside the Giants 15-yard line.
He was calm, cool, and collected throughout the game. Roethlisberger was accurate, and he didn’t turn the ball over. Although there were instances in which he tried to extend the play rather than throw it away leading to multiple sacks. Ultimately, Roethlisberger looked like he didn’t miss a beat en route to a 21/32, 229 yards and three touchdown night.
2. The weapons will be great
All the rave this summer was about the variety of talent all over the offense, and they did not disappoint.
Chase Claypool made a quick impact with his first career catch being a 28-yard reception on the sideline in between two defenders — showing similarities to the Santonio Holmes catch in Super Bowl XLIII.
JuJu Smith-Schuster had a much-needed big game, leading the Steelers with six receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
While Diontae Johnson had the muffed punt and a few miscommunications on offense, he still reeled in six receptions of his own, and James Washington had one of the grittiest touchdowns you’ll ever see.
The biggest standout, though, was Benny Snell Jr. rushing for a career-high 113 yards after James Conner got off to a slow start, and was lost for the game due to a hamstring injury. Expect Snell to be featured more in the offense in the coming weeks.
The ability to spread the ball out that much does wonders for the offense, and will be pivotal to their success going forward. Tonight was a good start.
3. The Steelers’ defense bent but didn’t break
Like their offensive counterparts, the Steelers defense started off slow. They gave up a long touchdown pass to Darius Slayton after Minkah Fitzpatrick was caught creeping up rather than playing deep. That said, they rebounded in a big way.
T.J. Watt had an interception that set up the Steelers’ first touchdown of the game, and Cam Heyward picked off a pass in the end zone to kill a 19-play drive after immense pressure came from Bud Dupree causing the erratic throw.
Pittsburgh also accounted for three sacks and held Saquon Barkley to just six yards rushing.
This is not to say that the defense was perfect. The pass rush didn’t get nearly as much pressure as they should have. That said, they made the plays they needed to. Pittsburgh forced two turnovers and held arguably the best running back in the NFL to less than 10 yards rushing. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid outing, nonetheless.